Friday, April 5, 2013

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 19: Taxi Driver

 Kevin is working for the Winchesters and this annoys Crowley, yes yes it does. He has creative and bloody ways of expressing that annoyance  - including removing all of someone’s limbs. Yes it’s a dream – but still you’ve got to give him kudos.

Dean and Sam arrive at Kevin’s boat, called when Kevin had a rather understandable reaction. Kevin’s worried about Crowley in his head but neither Dean nor Sam are especially worried (considering the things they’ve had in their heads, that’s understandable) particularly since if Crowley knew where Kevin actually was, he’d have more than dreams to worry about. He’s also translated the second trial for closing the gates of Hell – about time! Rescue a soul from Hell and deliver it to Heaven

That sounds a mite more difficult than stabbing a Hellhound.

Deciding they need to figure out how to do this, they summon an expert – a crossroad demon.  Into a demon trap (really, it’s that easy to capture a crossroad demon? You could continually summon them one after another and stab or exorcise them and decimate the ranks of hell like this!) Dean is perturbed that the Crossroad demon is no longer a “hot chick” (typical Dean) I suspect this is because graphic torture is going to happen instigated by the heroes and TV land has tropes for that – they can die tragically after becoming a quasi love interest or otherwise heart-stringy for the Winchesters. Have a disposable Black guy instead.

Yup, holy water torture begins and after some token protests we get the story – Rogue Reapers will smuggle you to Hell, to heaven, just about anywhere, really. The demon then begs for death so that he doesn’t have to go back to Crowley who may be Disappointed In Him. Dean wants a little more info first.

Tim to go see Aajay, the Taxi Driver Reaper Coyote – and he wants a favour for them in payment. How does he know them? Because he was the one who took Bobby’s soul to Hell. Now why would a good guy like Bobby go to Hell? Why because he’s on the King of Hell’s shitlist and he can corrupt the system if he wants. Yeah that was the cannon just screeching and crying.

Anyway, Dean is determined to go as well because Sam is under-the-weather with that whole coughing up blood thing and aside from the trials, Dean isn’t leaving Bobby in Hell. But Sam insists it has to be just him for the sake of the trial – which leads to Sam going for exactly 24 hours. They’re also watched by someone I assume is suspicious since the camera focused on him for some reason.

Some zappy magic and special effect and Sam and Aajay arrive in… Purgatory. Hey, you got lost! Apparently this is a round about route into Hell. He gives Sam directions to a portal, this way he isn’t caught sneaking a Winchester into Hell which could make people Unhappy With Him. he leaves after a quick warning of how dangerous Purgatory is.

Dean, meanwhile, is with Kevin trying to deal with his paranoia. Which he does in his own classic style of “no this doesn’t end, it’s not going to get easier, they don’t get normal lives but they suck it up and move on. Kevin steals his pie. I believe this is karma.

And Aajay gets a visit from the always-awesome Crowley who is so very curious about the deal he made with Sam Winchester. He quickly tells Crowley everything he knows (which isn’t much) and when Sam is due back – followed by getting an Angel Blade through the chest.

In Purgatory, Sam only has to kill one monster before finding the portal into Hell, he goes through and marks the way back with his watch (don’t you need that Sam, since you have to be back for a certain time?).

Hell is pretty hellish - stone corridors with lots of background screaming and crying. There are a lot of people, with horrible torture wounds, imprisoned, chained or caged begging for Sam to help. He finds Bobby pretty easily – which is kind of impressive. Did he get a floor plan or something? And Bobby punches him because he thinks Sam is a demon imposter.

Yes, Bobby is awesome. Not as awesome as Crowley, but still pretty damn awesome. And yes I had a glee moment seeing him back. Sam, quickly tell Bobby some highly embarrassing and secret things only he should know (actually, one of them only Dean should know, oops).

Crowley is not happy and explaining the facts to his temp: the Winchesters have a prophet translating, have killed his hellhound and now the “jumbo sized” Winchester is in the Mother Ship. He needs Kevin and his tablet since “his tablet has the good stuff, my half has the acknowledgements and the about the author.” See, this is why I love Crowley.

On Earth, Dean has to deal with Kevin who has succumbed to paranoia and hidden the tablet somewhere – and a visit from Naomi who is spinning like an entire government’s media department. Dean is not the most receptive to her message but she plants the seeds before leaving – including letting Dean know that the gateway to Hell is through Purgatory. Ok, I know Dean has been to Purgatory and it’s a scary place, but he’s also been to Hell and it was a mite worse, so I’m not sure why this would freak Dean out (also, is there a horrible torture afterlife dimension Dean hasn’t visited yet?)

Naomi? Not nearly as awesome as the others. But I don’t predict her living past the end of the season

Back in hell many demons die – including a Sam clone (Sam “you knew, right?” Bobby took a chance – 50/50!) They rush back to the portal. Just as Sam arrives at the Earthside to find Aajay’s body. Dean calls Benny – he has a favour to ask. In Purgatory, Bobby thinks he’s being tapped to get back in the action before Sam explains the reality. Bobby still holds some hope that they’ll spring him somehow – he’s not a big fan of Heaven either. Which is when Sam realises that Aajay isn’t appearing

Time for Benny’s big favour – Dean needs to get to Purgatory and the only way he knows how to do that is to kill a monster. Like a vampire. That’s a pretty big favour right there. But benny, on the strength of their immense shared past, despite Dean dumping him due to Sam’s petulance, is in. Benny adds in one of the brilliant emotional scenes Supernatural does so well, that he just doesn’t belong any more, not with vampires or humans – though Dean intends for Bobby to ride out of Purgatory with Sam like he did with Dean. After more emotional scenes, Dean beheads Benny

In Purgatory, Bobby asks about Purgatory and the enormity of Dean spending a year there fighting and running all day every day. He also is sympathetic to Sam for spending that year unable to bring Dean back. Aww that’s sweet, Bobby still has faith in Sam. That’s so Season 6, Bobby. Bobby is not amused by Sam’s failure to look for Sam despite the agreement – he knows that agreement, he taught them that agreement, everyone knows you don’t follow it!

Which is when they’re attacked – and Benny arrives to help out. And Bobby has to deal with the fact Dean has a vampire friend. Bobby leads them to the portal out. Sam cuts his arm and Bobby’s arm so Bobby can be absorbed to let him escape Purgatory. He turns to do the same for Benny – but this is just as 3 figures appear accusing Benny of still working for the Winchesters (this is after Benny described himself as a disgrace to his own kind). Benny tells Sam to go and to pass on his goodbyes to Dean. Sam throws him the Purgatory axe he found and Benny attacks the vampires while Sam runs for the portal. As he leaves, it looks like Benny is not winning his fight.

Sam emerges from the portal to find Dean already waiting for him – emotional reunion followed by telling Dean that Benny isn’t coming back (because having Bobby and Benny sounds like a daft children’s show so it really does have to be one or the other) and didn’t want to come anyway (says a lot about Dean that he believed Sam there).  Sam cuts his arm and Bobby’s spirit ascends – until it’s intercepted by Crowley. How pesky

Crowley uses his telekinesis to slam Sam and Dean against trees – and Naomi steps in. She may be evil angel, but rescuing an innocent soul from Hell is kind of something she has to support, it’s in the job description. Crowley warns her about the Winchesters – how they’ll lock them both away. Crowley calls her a bureaucrat fighting outside her weight class which annoys her a lot – bureaucrat is apparently a touchy word for her. She raises her glowy hand to zap him, but Crowley disappears – and Bobby’s soul is sent on to Heaven.

Sam says the spell  and collapses to his knees in pain, holding his glowing hand, Dean’s worried but it ends and Sam says it’s ok, it’s over.

Kevin gets another visit from Crowley, blowing out his warded windows. This time it seems to be in reality – Crowley claims he found Kevin’s mother and tortured her into revealing his location (if they have killed the awesome Linda Tran, off screen no less, I will be really pissed). Kevin is sure she would never give him up – so Crowley says that’s true, but they killed her and got his address of her smartphone. Crowley makes a big, awesome, dramatic speech and we pan out as Kevin starts screaming

As Sam and Dean drive, Dean tells Sam that he beheaded Benny but didn’t burn his bones and Sam admits that Benny was ok (is that an apology Sam? If it isn’t, shouldn’t it be?) . They head to the boat and find it deserted – and all the stuff missing. Dean assumes that Kevin has freaked and run for it

Ah dear viewers let’s have a quick revisit to episodes of yore, in particular the seals. Remember the Seals? The Seals were the shiny things that kept Lucifer’s cage closed and they could only be broken after the first one was broken. And what was the first seal? A righteous man in Hell being broken and torturing a soul. This was Dean (John Winchester didn’t break) and everyone was all excited that the righteous John and Dean made deals with Crossroad Demons to send their souls to Hell to give this once-in-millennia-opportunity to break the first seal.

And now it seems Crowley can grease some palms and get a righteous soul down there because he’s, what, holding a grudge? Really? Sure, maybe Crowley is more powerful than Azazel and Lillith combined… actually no, that’s beyond a stretch – Crowley became King of Hell because he took over from Lillith the very first demon. I need some explanations why Crowley can pull off, relatively casually, what Lillith could not with far more motivation. Damn it writers, bunch of idjits.

It’s a good thing that Castiel is one of the good guys, or I’d always be on team Crowley.

Linda Tran deserves a damnsite more than being killed off camera – especially after she already had one brush with death. And doubly so in an episode that already killed off 2 disposable POC extras.

This whole gates of hell storyline? I’m not invested. Maybe it’s because it’s only been touched upon among the many other storylines but it just isn’t working for me. It particularly gets me that there’s no epic about it. They get a step after Kevin translates, they do the step then it’s back to Monster of the Week or, the much more interesting, Castiel storyline. Especially this week – Sam just infiltrated Hell and it was easy – no epic quest, no battle to find a way, no arduous task to break the barriers between realms – it was like crossing a state line. That could have easily been 2 or 3 episodes on its own! They can have tearful reunions with Dean all they want – he was gone for a day. A day. During which he killed, what, 2 Purgatory monster and 3 demons? He could have had to hack and slash his way across Purgatory. He could have actually had to FIND Bobby in Hell. It should have been difficult. And you bring Bobby back and that’s it? No dramatic emotional scenes? A couple of short conversations? Really?

The Winchesters just infiltrated Purgatory and Hell, rescued the most dearly beloved person they’ve ever lost and it was a single episode anti-climax. C’mon Supernatural –you can cobble together emotionally devastating scenes and moments of incredible epic – and with this material there was no excuse for this lacklustre performance.

And why are there even Rogue Reapers anyway?!

I’d give the episode a 3 over all, but I’m going to drop it down to a 2 for pulling such shit with such high potential.