Monday, April 9, 2018

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 17: The Thing

In Providence, Rhode Island in 1925 we have a Men of Letter’s chapter that has kidnapped a woman in order to sacrifice her to a tentacled monstrosity. As one does

And why are these monstrosities always tentacled? Is it entirely because of Lovecraft? Or did he base his calamari loathing on previous beliefs?

So to the present and we have Dean and Sam desperately researching the remaining ingredients they need for their portal spell so they can cross over and rescue Jack and Mary. It’s very boring and Dean especially hates it. He also decides to amuse himself posting little post-its all over Sam’s back like an immature high school student.

Hey remember I mentioned last episode that we need to re-examine Dean’s eternal child thing? Well double down on that. Dean is 39 years old. It could be an interesting point to unpack that Dean has pretty much frozen in his maturation in many years. While he’s evolved as a hunter and even grown more cynical and hopeless, in many ways he’s frozen in terms of emotional and social growth. It’s an interesting angle on his highly inhibited life.

Anyway, they’re looking for the seal of soloman for the portal and their research leads them to, surprise surprise, a kind of secondary Chapter House in Rhode Island

So off they go, find their way in, do some exploring, find a little research aaaand find Sandy. The woman from the 1920s who was kidnapped and sacrificed to the great god of tentacly badness. She’s still alive and hasn’t aged a day

Being the Winchesters they rescue her (of course). And take her to a diner (because there’s ALWAYS a diner) full of local friendly folks and a particularly sinister silent chef who is Not Pleased to see Sandy (who is all confused and culture shocky at the 100 years that have passed and trying to figure out why Dean and Sam are pretty unphased by a 100 year old woman who hasn’t aged - because weird is normal to them). He calls another Not Pleased person -all of whom have Men of Letters tattoos.

Sam orders kale and is duly punished by having his food drugged. The other cultists attack when Sam is incapacitate - and quickly find that Dean most certainly isn’t (with some added stabbing from Sandy). They manage to escape with Sam, leaving a few bodies and some confused locals behind. Local cultist wannabes are no match for Winchesters

Brother and sister cultist team question Sam and bring some necessary info dumping: they’re the grandchildren of the original Men of Letter’s cult leader who, after a traumatic world war 1, decided the best thing to do would be to summon a tentacled god from another world to turn Earth into a Utopia

Unsurprisingly, this did not go well.

When said tentacled god turned out to be evil and want to Eat All The Things with a side order of summoning her mate over so they could breed and Eat All The Things together, the cult decided to leave the demon-god chained up and bound and starving. The rest of the Men of Letters investigated, declared this to be an Almighty Clusterfuck. I actually want to see the reaction of these supernatural experts upon hearing one of their members decided to summon a tentacle monster to make the world a better place.

Said tentacle monster possessed Sandy and the Winchesters went and let her out. Oopsie. She has now eaten several hapless townsfolk but taken Dean with her because she thinks he’s a sexy host for her summoned tentacle monster boyfriend. He is very sassy when tied up. This is a good quality. Thankfully the Winchesters have spent so many many many many many many times tied up by now that they’ve finally learned some escape artist skills and Dean frees himself just as Sam arrive and after some shenanigans Sandy and her tentacled hubby end up banished back to whence they came.

With the evil calamari duly banished and not, say, gently braised in red wine or hot fried in lots of salt and garlic, the Winchester brothers get the Seal of Soloman and can now go back to the bunker with some helpful summoning tips.

Meanwhile it’s time to catch up with Ketch who thinks of himself as an independent contractor to Asmodeus, the Kentucky Fried Demon Prince. Asmodeus, as a demon prince, is not having this nonsense and instead makes it clear Ketch belongs to him. Ketch is made to wait in petty power plays and when that doesn’t work Asmodeus beats him blood and warnings him he’ll hunt him to the ends of the Earth if he gets sassy again.

And… yeah? I mean he’s a demon prince. Did Ketch, simple, non-magical Ketch, really think he could interact with him as an equal? This whole plot line makes no sense. There is no way that Ketch could possibly have thought this would work out ok for him.

While imprisoned he also sees that Asmodeus is extracting Grace from his captive Archangel, Gabriel, and injecting it into himself. I still want to know how Asmodeus captured and Archangel since Archangels are like the mega-nukes of terror.

Ketch, duly outraged and horrified that the Archdemon is not friendly - especially after Asmodeus gets all in his face about how he’s totally not a good person and is completely off the redemption train (of course), Ketch has two real options: complete collapse and capitulation or rebellion

And I may not like Ketch but we know capitulation is not on the cards

So he escapes, taking with him a deeply traumatised and fragiled Gabriel AND the Archangel blade - which is one of the ever growing number of super weapons which kill anything no matter how supreme they are. There’s like a dozen or so of these things now.

Gabriel is rather ridiculously poorly guarded and Ketch pretty much walks out despite dragging a snivelling, broken Gabriel behind him. Again, can Asmodeus really know so little of how humanity works that he didn’t anticipate Ketch doing this?

So Ketch is able to go to the Winchester bunker to make a deal

He will give them Gabriel’s Grace (which has already been extracted no need to take more and further traumatise the poor broken angel) for their portal spell. He also gives them the Archangel blade.

In exchange he wants sanctuary: because the Winchesters and the Winchester bunker may be the only thing that shields him from the wrath of Asmodeus.

Sam is dubious because Ketch is, well, Ketch

But Dean agrees for both of them, overruling Sam

More, he demands they cast the spell to open the portal straight away. Not even pausing to wait to heal Gabriel (who is in a terrible condition) or to prepare. He wants to leave right now

And he’s not taking Sam. He wants Sam to stay behind to launch a rescue in case it all goes wrong (and someone needs to stay and tend Gabriel). Sam protests, wanting more time to heal Gabriel and want to come with them. He double protests when Ketch decides to go instead (since another world is a long way from Asmodeus). But, again, Dean puts his foot down: they need Sam in case there’s a need for a rescue

It’s interesting to see Dean preparing for failure, having Sam back in reserve. We see him both being classic Dean - charging in without a plan (though what plan they could have I don’t know) but also making a plan in the event of failure. Usually he never even considers that - nor would he set up Sam to provide a rescue for him because that would assume failure which he normally doesn’t do. Is he doing it because he feels the need to have someone else rescue Mary in case he fails? Or is it just to keep Sam out of harm’s way? I suspect the latter

But what is noteworthy is Dean pretty much laying down the law and Sam not even arguing very much. It’s a definite ceding of control. I think Supernatural has always leaned slightly more towards telling Dean’s story and centring Dean than Sam… but I feel this is becoming more the case as the show goes on. I think there is a slight chance of Sam becoming more sidekick than co-protagonist if they’re not careful, especially as we’ve had previous issues with relationships: Dean and Castiel; Dean and Benny and even Dean and Mary have all been stronger than anything Sam has had, not since the very early days of Supernatural. Having Dean go on another solo mission just risks this becoming more of a problem

I’m not saying I disagree with Dean - a rescue plan would be useful. But really hurrying doesn’t seem sensible - at very least they could call on Castiel to help.