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5.13 - The Song Remains the Same (SPN)

After the debacle that was the previous episode, this one couldn't come more timely and welcoming. Sera Gamble rarely disappoints, and here is no exception.

The episode title is interesting. As I understand, it received a last minute change. In fact when the episode finally went up on iTune, it's still listed as "Back to the Future II". Sometimes you gotta love those eleventh hour inspirations. Personally, I think the new title captured the essence of the story better.

The hour started with Dean's little naughty dream. The thing is we all know dreams hold deeper meanings. So what does this lusty sequence say besides showing the obvious that Dean is a red blooded womanizer? Here's what I see: a) Dean gets a more literal and visual awareness of the two opposing forces here, courting and seducing; b) subconsciously Dean accepts sin and virtue go hand in hand; and it takes both of them together to make a "pretty" picture -- isn't himself a prime example of this?! and c) in Dean's world, angel is as "perverse" as the devil -- a revelation that has become quite anvilicious by now.

I find it amusing that despite he's sitting in what appears to be a private stripper lounge, enjoying not one but two sluttishly clad dancers gyrating in front of him, Jensen managed to make his character come off naughty rather than sleazy. When Anna crashed the "party", Dean looked like a mischievous boy who was caught with his hands stuck in a cookie jar. The way his doe like eyes blinked reminded me of those cute characters from Japanese Anime cartoons I used to watch when I was a kid.


credits: made by lere8

Speaking of Anna, how has she changed here! The last time we saw her, she was still Dean's (if not Sam's) ally. Now she's all bent on killing John and Mary before either Winchester boy gets conceived. For awhile it confounded me why she went back to 1978 if all she wanted to do was to make sure Sam doesn't get born. Then it hit me she wanted Dean gone too! After all Dean is the one that broke the first seal and got the ball rolling so to speak. I gather her "Sam Winchester must die" speech was for Castiel's benefit only. She left Dean out because she knew Castiel won't let her harm Dean. Sneaky little angel she was. But she miscalculated. She didn't count on Sam earning Castiel's friendship also.

The scene where Anna dropped back in time was pretty cool. I didn't catch this until it was pointed out to me that she landed right on top of the Firebird of a 70s Pontiac Trans Am. The painted wings of the bird spread neatly behind her back. The show has found yet another symbolic way to give an angel its wings.



Dean's smart alec remarks and pop cultural reference throughout the episode were hilarious. The Glen Close one took me a while to figure out he was talking about her movie Fatal Attraction. But this exchange between Dean and Castiel cracked me up instantly:

      Dean: So what? You are like the DeLorean without enough plutonium?
      Castiel: I don't understand that reference.


Bwahahah, that must be why they named it "Back to the Future II" in the first place. Oh Cas, you are the best foil against Dean's smart mouth!

I don't want to dwell too much on the scenes where all the Winchesters were at one place. I'm sure they have been discussed at great length, and the emotional impacts of these scenes were clear and precise. While none of them made me cry like the Dean/Mary scene from "In the Beginning" did, I truly adored the one where Sam told the oblivious John how he felt about him, and the one where Dean told Mary she should grab Sammy and run on the morning of Nov. 2nd, 1983.

I love it whenever the show reminds us how much like John Sam actually is. It felt gratifying to have Sam finally get to tell John, defending him even, that he now understood what John had to do when he and Dean were growing up. Ironically, the father and son's positions were reversed here with John essentially repeating younger!Sam's old complaints. It's sad that as Sam reached across time to connect with his Dad, John had no way of comprehending the love and understanding his son was giving him.

I'm an unabashed Dean!girl, so even when I'm moved by Sam's plight, oftentimes my heart trips over Dean's predicament more. In this case, it clenched hard when Dean told Mary to take Sam and run and never look back. "But what about you, Dean?" I wanted to ask. The thing is I don't think Dean spared himself a thought for even a second. His natural instinct was centered on saving Sammy and his mom, even at the expense of himself being abandoned. Once again, I see Dean's self sacrificing way was ingrained, unshakable.

Mary's revelation was entirely expected. What I didn't get was why everyone was so surprised. Did they travel back further than the 9 month prior to Dean's birth? Did Mary have an unusually long pregnancy with Dean, or something?

I was surprised at seeing a younger looking Uriel, who was certainly alive and kicking back then. Anna lied to him since it was her who killed him in the future, not the Winchesters. This is the first time an angel told a direct lie, isn't it? In the past, they may tell half truth and withheld information, but I don't believe they've outright said anything that was untrue. When Uriel and Anna snuck into the cabin, I couldn't help but wonder why the Winchesters didn't use those Enochian anti-angel symbols featured in "Death Takes a Holiday" to protect their lair. Guess their objective wasn't to keep Anna out, but to trap her and kill her instead. Too bad they didn't anticipate she got help of her own.

Gosh, Sam's death took my breath away. Even though intellectually I knew Sam would live to fight another day, hearing Dean's raspy cry of Sam's name shook me. And it didn't escape me that the last word on Sam's dying lips was a whispered "Dean"!

With this episode, I've also anticipated the entrance of Michael. As soon as I saw the spoiler awhile ago that they were traveling back to the year right before Dean was born, I suspected the story somehow would involve the last Archangel we've yet to meet. What I didn't know was the format in which he'd be introduced.

Since I learned Dean is the "Michael Sword", I've been speculating at the relationship between Dean and Michael. I thought their connection runs deeper than a vessel to its designated angel. Why? Because why refer to Dean as the "sword" if he's only a "sheath"? (Okay, mind out of the gutter!) Anyway, for awhile I thought Dean Winchester is Michael the same way as Anna Milton was the rebellious angel. However this episode eliminated that hypothesis. Nonetheless, having Michael appear in young!John's form was quite brilliant. The audience finally got the long awaited confrontation between Michael and Dean:



Looking at the still of the scene, I've noticed the curious lighting angle: the "celestial" beam that came through the little window hit Dean squarely in the face, awash him in light and creating an unconventional halo behind him; at the same time, leaving the actual archangel Michael's face completely in the dark. Is this symbolic or random, I wonder?

Michael's revelation that Sam and Dean are the direct descendants of Cain and Abel was like a flashlight that went off in my head. This exposition is inspired. It strengthens the claim that Sam and Dean are the destined "avatars" for Lucifer and Michael. After all, there were countless blood-brothers throughout times, why are Sam and Dean so special? Looking at the first brothers in history, I have this thought that maybe the Winchesters are direct descendants of Cain (on account that Cain is settled farmer), while the Campbells descended from Abel (on account that Abel is hunter-gatherer). Thus John and Mary's union resulted in bringing the fated brothers' offspring back into the same family.

Michael told Dean that a master plan is at work where there's a beginning and an end. In between, although millions of different choices can be made, they all work towards the same destiny in the end. Is he right here? I think it depends on how one defines the end, or the master plan. For instance, let's look at life itself. There is a master plan in which beginning is birth; and it ends in death. No matter what happens during the lifespan, death is inescapable (unless one's a Cylon of course -- sorry I couldn't resist). But Michael's claim of fate has a gigantic hole: who is he to say his plan, or his brother's plan are the master plan here?! It's quite arrogant of him to presume IMO. For all we know, the end he and Lucifer sought after perhaps is only one of those "inconsequential" choices Dean and Sam have to make along their journey of life.

I can't be too disappointed with Michael though because his arrogance I expected, and I guess he means well in his own way. Despite him being the betrayed one here, Michael freely admitted he still loves Lucifer. But Michael vowed he would not let his personal feeling interfere with his duty. Because I'm a good son, he said, implying it was God's wish, therefore righteous, to kill Lucifer. To that Dean promptly replied That's a dead end street, meaning blindly following order isn't going to get them anywhere off the beaten path. Despite Dean's vocal defiance, Michael wasn't worried because he believed the master plan would play itself out, thus echoing the same sentiment Lucifer gave Sam. The difference between Michael and his brothers is Michael cared about Dean. He promised he won't leave Dean a drooling mess once he's done with him, as Raphael did to his vessel, as Lucifer possibly would do to Sam. Michael telegraphed his care not only through promise, but in gesture as well. His gentle straightening of Dean's jacket was almost like something John would do to his son.

Another elegance of this episode is it wiped out a continuity glitch introduced since "In the Beginning". Because Michael erased all the memories of Mary and John's encounter with Dean and Sam, it stands to reason why Mary was seemingly unaware of the ill fate awaited her on the night of Nov. 2, 1983. Thus the song of Winchesters' life remains the same -- yeah, that's "Carry On My Wayward Son" you are hearing in the background. ;-)

Jokes aside, I think the title also has a clever pun. In my opinion, the "song" is also the "son", which could only refer to Dean, the one Mary was carrying when Anna went Terminator on them. The Team Freewill Dean scrambled together, consisting one ex blood junkie, a dropout with 6 bucks to his name, and Mr. Comatose is quite the evidence that even after Michael's ominous warning he can't fight the City Hall, Dean remains the rebel to the end.

Next we saw the very pregnant Mary benignly admonished the still in the womb Dean as quite a "trouble maker", thus bringing the story here into full circle where the son remained the same from beginning to end (or is that end to beginning). The last thing Mary said before the screen faded out was Angels are watching over you. It made me wonder if Michael didn't put that thought in her head while wiping out other memories. Suddenly the once comforting words took on a dark sinister shade as the credits rolled over the screen.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
ckll
Feb. 11th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
he way his doe like eyes blinked reminded me of those cute characters from Japanese Anime cartoons

You're so right :)

I used to kinda like Anna but as almost all women in the show turned into bitch and died.
maybe the light on Michael was symbolic :D
xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC)
Heee, Dean's eyes (and lashes) are quite epic. *g*

I liked Anna too, and thought Dean and her tryst in the backseat of Impala very romantic. On the other hand, all along I kinda see they were more attracted to the attitude ("Fuck! It's our last night on Earth") than to each other. In that sense, I can see how Anna is able to progress from that to the Terminator she is here. Her cold logic actually does make sense if you take away the emotions and disregard the lives of these people, for better or worse.

If I have any iffiness regarding to this episode, it's what you said here: ...almost all women in the show turned into bitch and died. Although (don't hate me for saying this) I'm not 100% sure this is the last time we see Anna. After all her body was destroyed once already, and we've also seen Castiel came back intact from being incinerated. So who knows what the writers may do with her in the future.

I'd like to think the light thing is symbolic too. ;-)
ala_tariel
Feb. 11th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
Mary said "Angels are watching over you", I guess, it's from her subconscious mind. Somehow, she vaguely remember about her encounter with angels.

I love your review here. And Michael. Gosh! I can't say nothing more than I love him. He said Michael's trait are from John's family. So, what is it from Mary's family? Lucifer's?

Anyway, I'd love to see Young John and Mary again in the future. At first, I don't really like Michael in "In the Beginning". But now I change my mind.

Thank you so much for writing this!!! ♥
xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
Somehow, she vaguely remember about her encounter with angels.
Mmmm... I don't know if that is true. Wouldn't that suggest Michael did a sloppy job there in wiping away the memories? On the other hand, it's comforting (at this point) to think there's limitation to Michael's powers. Having Michael put a thought that's favorable to his cause in Mary's subconscious is very chilling, creepy, and scary to me.

Ummm, I don't think it said specifically Michael's trait are from John's family. It just says Michael is able to ride John because he shares the same bloodline with Dean. I find that interesting because would Michael be able to ride Sam then? Or Lucifer Dean? After all, Sam and Dean shared the same bloodline also. I think we either don't have all the information yet, or the writers haven't really thought this through yet. I prefer to think the first is the case.

I maybe the lone voice here: while I think Mathew Cohen did a good job (an understatement?) as Michael, I still don't quite like him as John. It's not really his fault. It's just JDM left too big a shoe to fill, literally and figuratively.

Heee, thank you dear! Glad you enjoyed this massive brain dump. *hugs*
ala_tariel
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Well, it's more like a deja vu for Mary, about the angels thing.

And yes, nobody can replace JDM as John. He's perfect as the father role.

But call me shallow, I love Cohen as Michael. His eyes! Ooooohhhh....

After all, Sam and Dean shared the same bloodline also. I think we either don't have all the information yet, or the writers haven't really thought this through yet. I prefer to think the first is the case.

Now I want those writers write more about this. But, if there's season 6, I don't want them to dig about Angels and Demons anymore. I want SPN S6 just like S1 or S2. No apocalypse around.

:D
layne67
Feb. 11th, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC)
I didn't know about the original title and I'm so glad that they changed it. 'Back To The Future 2' sounds so ... tacky ...

I didn't notice the wings on the car either! Someone mentioned a halo on the side but I didn't see that anywhere. Was it there?

the "celestial" beam that came through the little window hit Dean squarely in the face, awash him in light and creating an unconventional halo behind him

OHH!! Thanks for pointing that out. I didn't notice that! Awesome!

Lovely review, Jane :)

xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
First of all, that icon of yours is beyond gorgeous. I love how light Mary is and how dark John is next against her. Stunning!

'Back To The Future 2' sounds so ... tacky ...
Agree! It also sounds so lazy, unoriginal. Not only that I wonder if they would have copyright issue to worry about.

A halo? I didn't notice the side of the car. As far as I know Pontiac Firebird Trans Am cars in the 70s has that bird painted on the hood, but I didn't know they have paintings on the side as well. Hold on, I'll check on that and let you know after rewatch the scene.

Awww, thank you, Layne! Glad you liked my babble. ;-) *hugs*
liebestrume
Feb. 11th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
Oh man! Haven't seen this one yet, but you are making me looking forward to it. These guys use biblical reference quite freely and literally, don't they? Now that Michael has appeared, will God be far behind?

And with all these brother-against- brother parallel and the "good son" reference, I just hope they don't make Lucifer the "prodigal son" - that'd just be all kinds of wrong!
xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
Meeep! Darling, I didn't mean to spoil you! *facepalm*

Yes, these guys are taking quite a lot of liberties with the biblical references. I guess the often mentioned Enochian Occultism reference should be a clue. Now that Michael has appeared, I fear God may just be over the horizon! I have a suspicious that Dean's amulet would come into play at some point. I can't imagine how they could pull off showing God without going trite at this point. On the other hand, I can't say I don't have this little perverse delight in wanting to see them try, and hoping they could just make it work somehow.

And with all these brother-against- brother parallel and the "good son" reference, I just hope they don't make Lucifer the "prodigal son" - that'd just be all kinds of wrong!

This.

*jumping up and down* W00t! You always can say what's on my mind better!
liebestrume
Feb. 12th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
No worries about spoiling me. I'm that kid who can never wait till Christmas morning for the gift opening. Were I a cat, not even the nine lives would have saved me from Curiosity.

Though I am not into SPN fandom, I've come to looking forward to your episode review. In your ability to pick up the nuances I often miss on the show, I recall another dhow, another fandom where you obsevative power and common sense enriched my experience. And that makes me smile. I wonder what people would call that: transitive memory, nostalgia? Or plain old need something to do with my time?

Forgot to comment on the title change last time - the current one is so much more evocative than the old one, episode content notwithstanding.
i_o_r_h_a_e_l
Feb. 11th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, I love your observation about the halo on Dean. It's like Michael is shedding his light to Dean.

But 'sheath'? Bwahahahahaha! :D
xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! <333

It's like Michael is shedding his light to Dean.
Hmmm, I haven't thought about in that sense, but I like it!

But 'sheath'?

Yap, blame it on our Dean for that one. He's the one called vessels names in the first place. But hey, wait a minute, I meant a scabbard! ;-)
(Deleted comment)
xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh hon, thank you! I love your brain too. <333

Glad you enjoyed my brain dump, but sorry to hear you are so exhausted. Moving is both exciting and tiring. Hope you recover soon! *hugs*
(Anonymous)
Feb. 11th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
Where to start?

First, I have to admit to not seeing the angel wings when Anna landed on the car! Thanks for the pic!

I also got a kick out of the scene you posted about (with the reference to "Back to the Future"--one of my favorite movies). I knew about the original title as well, and I agree that I like this one better. The original title made me think of a more comedic episode (given the movie), but the new title gave it more of an emotional feel (if that makes sense).

I wasn't surprised about Mary being pregnant, either. I kept waiting for her to say something. Her being pregnant, for me anyways, made it more heart wrenching. Here she is, at one of the most exciting times of life, and her boys know where and how it's going to end.

I always love your character insights (I always have--going all the way back to BSG), and this is no exception.

mick
xwacky
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
I agree with what you said about naming it "Back to the Future II", plus it's just too obvious. The movie is too iconic for me not to draw immediate comparison between the two. I know tonight's episode is also named after a movie (I'm not thrilled about that until hubby pointed out they are paying tribute to JA's movie), but at least that one is a cult, and much lesser known, so I'm kinda okay with it.

Mary is such a tragic figure. But I just love it they showed her so feisty here. The way she fought with Anna reminded me a little of Kara and Six's fight -- that was no sissy cat fight!

Awww, thank you so much for your kind words! I love to discuses characters and shows with you. We often share similar minds. :)
(Deleted comment)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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