Thursday, October 17, 2013

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 2: Devil May Care

Ominous opening! A man dragging a body in a body bag – the body is very very very charred. OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS.

To Sam and Dean and Sam is back with us and it’s time for a recap on Fallen Angels, Castiel et al (but not the fact that Sam is now sharing his body with Ezekiel). And Crowley is still locked up in the boot of the car, in the portable demon trap.

Meanwhile the man with the body bag in the ominous opening is a demon – and pouring some of his blood on the charred body (to a backdrop of essential runes for setting) resurrecting… Abaddon.

Sam and Dean go to the Winchester bunker and find Kevin holding the fort – and freaking out a little since every alarm in the place has been screaming. The angels falling will do that to a secure supernatural bunker.

They bring in Crowley (which Kevin isn’t joyful about, all things considered) for some questioning (aww like that’s going to work. You’ll tie him up, hit him a few times and he will throw so much witty sarcasm back at you that you’ll eventually surrender. It is known). Which is exactly what happens – especially since the humanity Sam saw in Crowley last season appears to have vanished in a puff of sarcastic smoke.

But the Winchesters may be wise to this – they leave him. Alone. No audience! No-one to be witty at! Now that is torture!

Kevin is still very not happy about Crowley being around but Sam and Dean want Crowley to spill the name of every demon on Earth for them to hunt down. Kevin goes to research the spell that kicked out the angels on the angel tablet while Dean rings round the hunters to warn them that a) there are lots of fallen angels around and b) they’re not friendly.

Abaddon marshal’s the troops and her man Jason has brought her a crew of very successful demons. Abaddon isn’t impressed and is bemused about what happened to hell – and why is a lethal demon wearing the body of an old woman?! The answer - to settle more deals (kids love grandma) – sums up all that Abaddon thinks is wrong with hell; demons buying souls, not taking them. A salesman, Crowley, in charge of Hell. Abaddon isn’t having this – the monarch of hell is a conqueror, a warrior – and she will be that monarch, leading an army into hell before taking her demonic army and conquering the Earth.

Well, she’s ambitious. Of course, grandma demon isn’t impressed and wants some proof that Crowley is gone and isn’t all that impressed by the knights of hell. Grandma gets sent back to hell. To start putting her plan into action, Abaddon has the demons swap the humans they’re currently possessing for soldiers. From there we see an attractive young woman skimpily dressed and plying helpless lady with a broken car. A friendly vampire stops to help her – and have a snack; and she cuts his head off. Yup she’s a hunter – but then she’s kidnapped by Abaddon’s soldier demons.

Sam and Dean head in to investigate all this demon activity pretending to be FBI – but hit a snag, the case is military therefore not the FBI’s jurisdiction. Lacking Bobby to be their usual cover, Dean resorts to putting Kevin on the phone to confirm their authority. Kevin cannot pull that off – what he can do is hack into her social media accounts and threaten to send the picture of her doing body shots off naked men to her commanding officer. That barrier removed they discover the bodies on the bus are all ex-meat suits of demons and that Abaddon is back.

Abaddon, meanwhile, has now captured 3 hunters and tortures one of them to give her Dean’s telephone number. She calls Kevin to pass on a message about the hunters she has captured – Earl and Tracy. Kevin passes on the co-ordinates to Dean and Sam – they know it’s a trap, but since when has that ever stopped the Winchesters.

The location is abandoned after a chemical spill (which makes Dean fear for his testicles). They find the hunters and rescue them, introducing themselves to Tracy (who Earl comments “has a mouth on her”.)

They plot how to bring down the soldier demons with assault rifles and we learn Tracy’s family died to demons – demons who were celebrating one of Sam’s screw ups (the one that let Lucifer out). She goes off with Dean (who has a talk on how it’s fine to hate Sam, though everyone screws up trying to do the right thing, but remember who the real enemy is) and Sam with Earl – who wants to sacrifice himself so everyone can escape. Abaddon tortured him and he gave up everyone’s locations, it’s why they were captured – but before he can try for redemption one of the Soldier Demons snipes him. Sam fires back at the sniper – appearing to out shoot the guy with his pistol (by the shattered glass in the sniper scopes) and he runs to cover – straight into the next soldier demon.

Dean and Tracy run into Abaddon – Tracy shoots her and hits… Kevlar. Which doesn’t help against the holy water Dean throws at her. Dean sends Tracy for supplies and confronts Abaddon with an Angel Blade – but Abaddon still easily takes him down. She wants Crowley and if Dean doesn’t give him to her, she will possess Dean and use his bodies to commit atrocities.

Sam isn’t doing much better against the 3 soldier demons who batter him back and forth across the room until the death blow is ready – and Ezekiel comes out to play. Now, we’ve seen a lot of angels die throughout the seasons so it’s easy to forget that a fully powered Angel is a gazillion times more powerful than… just about anything (not least of which because so many of these many dead angels don’t bother to unleash full power for… plot reasons).

Samkiel glows. Samkiel grows the awesome angel wings (albeit, raggedy ones. Ezekiel isn’t well). Outside Abaddon and Dean see an explosion blast blinding white light out of every window in the building. Abaddon, realising Dean has Angelic back up, throws Dean through a window and disappears.

Dean runs in to see Samkiel who explains he had to act to protect Sam and that Sam is unconscious. Samkiel has stabbed all the soldier demons with the knife so Dean can explain it to Sam. Samkiel notices Dean is upset – Dean is feeling guilty since he convinced Sam not to lock the gates of hell – which means he feels responsible for all the evil the demons are still able to do. Samkiel (or “Zeke” as Dean calls him. And yes, you knew he’d have a nickname) reminds Dean he did it to save Sam out of love – which instantly makes Dean hella uncomfortable because he used the dreaded “l-word” which covers emotions and feelings and other things that Dean Does Not Talk About. With added “I don’t know I can trust you” side issues.

Dean impresses Sam with his awesomeness, telling Sam he killed the three demons and Tracy arrives with the car. Tracy also says “good” when Sam says he’s ok, so I guess that’s tacit forgiveness.

At the Winchester Cave, leaving Crowley alone seems to be getting to him, as his thought go back to when Sam was trying to cleanse him, his screaming about deserving to be loved and wondering how to redeem himself. Kevin turning on the lights interrupts the stream of thought which is probably a relief to Crowley (lot of great acting by facial expressions). Crowley taunts Kevin and successfully gets a rise from him (of course). Kevin goes in and talks to Crowley and Crowley steps up the taunting, pushing Kevin into hitting him (torture, it seems, Crowley can handle).

After Kevin has finished venting, Crowley claims that Kevin’s mother, Linda Tran, is still alive. Suffering, but alive. He adds some insidious suggestions that Sam and Dean don’t care about Kevin, using him because they need a Prophet and, ultimately, Kevin is a disposable asset to them.

Sam and Dean return to the Winchester cave Kevin doesn’t answer their calls – they rush to the prison and find the bloodied Crowley. He gives them the names of some of his underperforming demons; Crowley mocks their plan to leave him to stew in his juices (even though it was working) and instead proposes bargaining for intel. And he gives them these names in exchange for letting him play with Kevin who he calls his “new favourite toy” (wind him up, watch him go).

Dean finds Kevin preparing to leave. Dean doesn’t believe Crowley that Linda is alive – and if she is, well “she’s dead in every way that counts”. Which can mean all kinds of awful things. He also warns Kevin how many angels and demons would love to get their hands on a prophet – and that the Winchesters need him. Kevin says “because I’m useful” and Dean says “because you’re family.” He puts Kevin in the same place as him, Sam and Castiel – family who will die for each other.

From that surprising and powerful moment, Dean goes on to Sam who is angsting about what Tracy said. Dean  is quick with a pep talk before checking on Sam’s health. But apparently Sam is on a high not only healthy but happy, seeing friends and family and feeling good, actually feeling better than he can remember.

Dean looks troubled – whether the secret he’s keeping or worrying what Ezekiel’s definition of “healing” stretches to.

Ok, firstly I have to comment on the female characters in this episode.

So Tracy “has a mouth on her”. Really? In all 9 seasons of Supernatural have we seen one single hunter except the comic relief fool Garth, who HASN’T been an ornery, cursing, wise cracking, rebellious, anarchic pain in the arse? It’s kind of a requirement for Hunters.

Also, women and sex on this episode: Abaddon is complaining that the demons are weak and not focused on being warriors and all dangerous and fighty? But she captures Earl with seduction and her banter with Dean is very very sexual.

And the soldier is forced to comply by blackmailing her about her perfectly legal (and, frankly, rather tame) sex life.

And Tracy, the Hunter, who uses her beauty and sexiness to seduce vampires in order to kill them. I know someone’s going to tell me that Hunters use whatever strategy they can – but tell me how often Dean uses his sexiness to reel in monsters? Don’t tell me he’s not perfectly capable of doing it because I will laugh at you. For that matter, how many male hunters have used “honey traps” to lure in the monsters?

It’s another one of those things that, on its own, each example is relatively benign but when you put them together and throw in Supernatural’s awful track record with women and We Have a Problem.

On other elements – Kevin looks interesting. I am shocked and overjoyed with Dean’s acknowledging Kevin as family and as integral to their group as Castiel. I hope this heralds great things for the coming season and Kevin’s role – because it needs to. The words are hollow and even vaguely insulting (like they’re trying to force something that isn’t there) if they don’t back it up – Crowley’s taunts were effective because, ultimately, they were accurate. So I want to see more from Kevin this season and I want to see Sam and Dean treat him as more than the super intelligent, computer whiz researcher (which is kind of an Asian stereotype anyway); Dean has declared him family. Dean has said it. Now show it.

Another interesting element is Ezekiel and Dean exploring Dean’s issues. I have complained episode after episodes, season after season, that Dean has suffered more than anyone on this show while he plays supporter, confidant and even bungling therapist for others, particularly Sam. This episode even lampshaded it with Dean comforting Sam, epicly reassuring Kevin and even having a brief battle time out to talk to Tracy. But now we have Ezekiel – with all of Sam’s knowledge of what the Winchesters have experience and none of Sam’s emotional barriers (nor his reluctance to push Dean’s own emotional barriers). This has potential.