Friday, October 12, 2012

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 2: What's Up, Tiger Mommy

A totally not creepy man wants to check out an item from his safety deposit box in a bank. That item would be in box number 1 – so already very very old. Inside the box is a bone, a very old bone. Once he has his bone he turns to the nice helpful bank employee – there’s a scream and a classic Supernatural blood spatter. The monsters of Supernatural are so messy with their food.

With the Winchesters, Ken is worried about his mother having seen Channing killed by demons last episode. He’s worried that she’s not ok and could be in demon hands. Dean doesn’t want to go, it’s out of their way, it’s probably a trap, Crowley needs Ken’s mother alive for leverage and, of course, a trip to Purgatory has burned away several more layers of Dean’s empathy. Ken doesn’t give up and Dean agrees to the road trip.

At Ken’s mother’s he notices she’s ok – but sad. Dean notices 2 demons scoping out the place. After stabbing them both with the doom dagger (have they forgotten how to perform exorcisms?) they go in, slightly spoil the touching reunion by dousing Ken’s mother with holy water, and then stabbing her good friend, Eunice (they actually use an exorcism to stop the demon escaping them get with the stabbing – exorcism guys, at least try to leave people alive).

Ms. Tran takes a minute to absorb the vast amount of knowledge they drop on her in a very short period of time. She takes a breath – then decides to get with the programme and get to it, including packing a bag to come with them. They try to talk her out of it, but she’s not having it, she’s coming with. They set conditions, including that she and Kevin both need to get anti-demon tattoos, he seems reluctant, she says “like it’s my first tattoo” leaving Kevin a little poleaxed

They go to collect the Word of God where Kevin stashed it in a locker – but it’s been removed. There were a string of thefts from the lockers by the ex-guard who is now in gaol.  They go to question him but while Sam is asking the questions, Dean gets a flashback to purgatory, questioning monsters to try and find where Castiel was. He grabs the prisoner and holds a knife to his throat – the prisoner tells them where the Tablet is.

They go to the pawn shop for the tablet and he isn’t answering questions. Dean starts to get menacing but Ms. Tran takes over and is much much better at it, threatening him with tax evasion over the car he has.

Going to collect a tablet they have a problem – it’s not there and it’s up for supernatural auction. But they’re invited to attend, at the behest of the right-hand man of Plutus, god of greed, who is running the show. They consider what little they have to offer (briefly consider selling Dean’s car but he threatens Sam for even suggesting it) before deciding they can just take Kevin in and he can memorise the relevant spell on the tablet without having to buy it.

When they get into the auction – and Dean has his weapons stripped from him – they find that there is a plate placed on the tablet, preventing it from being read. To make matters worse, Crowley is in attendance, ready to taunt everyone – but Ms. Tran smacks him good – it’s beautiful to see and I like Crowley. Dean has also acquired the nickname “Squirrel” to go with Sam’s “Moose.”

Dean also runs into Semandriel – and angel using a teenaged fast-food worker as a vessel to try and get the Word of God back. He also has questions for Dean about Castiel – what happened to him. Dean tells him they were sent to Purgatory – Semandriel asks if Castiel managed to escape and Dean is sadly silent. The angel tells Dean that some in Heaven knew that Castiel did what he did for the right reasons – and that too much heart was always Castiel’s problem.

Dean has another Purgatory flash back to him and Benny the Vampire finding Castiel, ragged and dirty, by a lake. Castiel also says he’s perfectly sane – if you can trust that given most psychotics think they are. Dean is extremely happy to see him – but Benny wants to know why Castiel ran out on Dean. Dean starts to make excuses for the angel, but Castiel says he ran away and heard Dean’s prayers, but ignored them. Since he arrived Leviathan have been hunting him and he’s been running to keep ahead of them and to keep them away from Dean. There’s lots of Castiel trying to convince Dean to leave – with Benny agreeing, but Dean is determined, he’s not leaving without Castiel.

Castiel, Castiel, Wherefore Art Thou, Castiel?
Back at the auction, the bidding begins on various magical artefacts in which they find that they don’t have a whole lot of money to bid – and that the bidding is in esoteric currency anyway. (Creepy guy from the beginning of the episode is bidding on Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. He offers a finger of an ice giant for it and later he hugs the hammer saying he missed him – was this Thor?)

Dean pretends to go to the bathroom, pickpockets a key and has a look in the vault – but there’s 2 guards inside so that nixes that plan. And when biddings atarts on the word of god, Crowley opens with 3 billion dollars. Semandriel counters with the Mona Lisa (aren’t angels powerful enough to just smite their way to the word?). The bidding continues in the ridiculous: the Real Mona Lisa where she’s topless, Vatican City, Alaska (“Palin, and the bridge to nowhere? No thanks” – quote of the night), the Moon. The reserve has not been met (seriously? They were both upping the already ridiculous bids further, crappy auctioneer) so to sweeten the pot they throw in Kevin, Prophet of the Lord.

In horror, Ms. Tran offers everything she owns for her son, but her assets are negligible. She then offers her soul. Semandriel refuses to trade in souls, angels won’t. Crowley offers a million souls but Plutus says it’s the sacrifice that matters, Ms Tran’s soul represents everything she has – is Crowley going to give up everything? Crowley gathers his courage and bids his own soul – Plutus laughs, Crowley doesn’t have a soul. She wins the auction.

Afterwards she asks Sam and Dean what losing her soul will mean. Sam tells her she won’t die – but she will wish she was dead, he knows having lost his soul before. Semandriel offers to protect Kevin but she says the last time the angels protected him, the angels died and Kevin disappeared for a year – she’d rather have the Winchesters look after him.

They go to the vault with excessively (and unnecessarily – seriously, there was no need for the implied sexual abuse of what he will do with her soul) creepy Plutus. She steps forwards – but then Dean spots that the anti-possession tattoo has been burned off. Ms. Tran’s eyes turn black – she’s possessed by Crowley – she got past the wards with the help of Plutus’s right hand man (who was more than happy to take an island as payment) he and the assistant quickly kill Plutus and his guards.

Crowley/Ms Tran runs, chased by Dean. Sam and Kevin are held at gun point by the assistant, until Sam grabs Mjolnir and hits him across the head with it. He then turns round and kills creepy guy with it since he paid with “5 8ths of a virgin”.

Dean catches up with Crowley/Ms. Tran just as Kevin arrives. The distraction allows Crowley/Ms. Tran to push him away long enough for Crowley to leave her (red and black smoke) and return to his normal body. In her head he learned that they plan to close the gates of hell – and he has the tablet. He also warns Kevin that the Winchesters use people up and they tend to die bloody around them – then he leaves with Dean giving him a pretty poor glare – c’mon Dean, you can do better.

After the fight, Ms. Tran is left catatonic. Kevin doesn’t want to talk to Dean or listen to him and just wants a moment alone with his mother. Sam and Dean leave and Sam asks Dean if he really would have killed her – Dean said yes, Crowley was in there and it would have been worth it. He would hate himself for it – but he already has so many nightmares that one more wouldn’t make a difference.

They notice the silence and return to the room to find Kevin and Ms. Tran gone. They left a note behind saying that since they don’t have the tablet they don’t need him (Sam protests that Crowley still needs Kevin and will hunt him) And the note leaves another barb – people Dean doesn’t need any more end up dead. Sam says it’s not true, but Dean has another flashback of Purgatory and Castiel, reaching out and calling Dean’s name. Nooooo… Castiel!

Ok, “Tiger mom”? No. It would have been bad enough in any situation, but a show that has taken 8 seasons to finally pull out a regular POC character should refrain from them using said character for stereotypes and jokes – especially in the episode titles. I like that Dean objects furiously to someone calling her “mail-order” and then backs down when Ms. Tran says she can handle it. Other than that Ms. Tran is all kinds of awesome, especially how quickly she adapts and how strongly as well. She would be a truly excellent character and is played by a brilliant actor as well. So why oh why oh why did we have to deal with yet another strong woman being effectively killed and sacrificed? Whyyyyy?!

I am glad to see Dean fraying – and it’s really well done the way they interspace the present with the past in Purgatory. After a year of constant fighting for survival (after all the other things Dean has gone through) it should have a lasting effect on him. Seeing him dismiss just one more nightmare and his flashbacks as well as his hyper-awareness is really highlighting how hurt he is.

The assistant to Plutus has some camp mannerisms so, of course, Crowley has to have a snarky “girl Friday” joke which is just so damn typical of Supernatural.

Also, needs more Castiel.