Anyway - now we get into a bigger run of mythology episodes as we near the end of the season. Starting with Misha's Directorial Debut:
Mother's Little Helper
Meatloaf is awesome, buddy. Also, that eye thing is messed up.
Sam: "You catch any shut-eye last night?"
- And so it begins... well, it had already begun, as we saw with the bloodlust, but now the real demonic symptoms begin - such as not needing to sleep if he doesn't want to.
Sam: "And maybe there are better ways to spend our time then just spinning-"
Dean: "Maybe we don't HAVE TIME!"
Sam: "What's up with you?"
- Dean is craving the Blade, Sam, and he knows he's not going to get it until he finds Abaddon.
Sam: "Okay, I get it. Just, hit me up if you find anything..."
- So, yeah, Sam kind of Dean's reasoning here - which I didn't write about but can be summoned up as "killing Abaddon and Crowley is our job too." And maybe that's what Dean believes too, but I think he already knows there's more to it than that.
- This is also a pretty neat role-reversal, (role-reversals happen A LOT on SPN and I love it), because usually it's Sam who is determined not to be dissuaded from the main goal to go on side-quests, and Dean who is like "no, we should check this out and save some people, we'll get back to the big boss later..." But, that's probably also why this excuse works so well on Sam, because Sam can completely understand the logic and emotion behind trying to just steadfastly go after the big bad.
- What's really interesting about it is that just 7 episodes ago, the big bad for Dean was Gadreel, for the crime of deceiving him and killing Kevin - basically as soon as Crowley convinces him to get the Mark of Cain in order to eventually kill Abaddon, Gadreel's all but forgotten for Dean - out of sight, out of mind. Even when Kevin comes back as a ghost, Dean may apologize to him, but it doesn't renew his quest to avenge Kevin's death, like you'd figure it might. I think it's because when Dean got the Mark, the target in his head for it's use was Abaddon, and the bloodlust that comes with the Mark is amplifying the desire to kill that target. It's sort of like the super-serum and its imitators in Marvel - it amplifies the personality/drive of those who receive it - so, for instance, Bruce Banner, who has a little bit of a temper problem, suddenly becomes the Hulk.
Anyway, back to SPN. I actually really love it when they split up for cases, especially in these later seasons - because it really speaks to how far they've grown as hunters, that they're able to be like "demonic possession? Yeah, I can handle that solo, no bigs" whereas in S1, when they encountered a minor demon, they freaked the hell out. :P
Sam: "And was her husband abusive?"
- I love the fact that Sam asks this, that the first thing he wants to dismiss is whether it was just self-defence.
And Karen's dead... I forgot about the writing on the wall. It doesn't really come into play at all and it's sort of unexplained. I didn't necessarily see what it said. "She will die"? Something like that. Very strange.
I love the way Jared does the scene in the diner - all of Sam's faces are just perfect. The face he makes when Billy first talks back to the waitress, and Sam is taking a sip of his coffee and then immediately pulls it away from his mouth like "oh, you were not just rude to this waitress!" and then the face when he says "Buddy, give it a rest." It's just so perfect - the sort of "listen to me, I'm your elder" face mixed with "I will fuck you up if I have to."
Oh, more writing on the wall - "end, dark, to die, missing." It's very strange... because basically they're just soulless, but they're acting WAY more insane than Sam did when he was the same.
I love how Sam heavy this episode is - not that I don't love Dean, of course, I just think it's rare that we get super Sam heavy episodes.
Sam: "What are you, Billy?"
Billy: "Clear of everything."
Sam: "Why are you doing this?"
Billy: "You think there's a why? No, it's because I want to and I can."
- Yup, definitely soulless. It's all right there. It's basically repeating what Soulless!Sam said on occasion, that he was free and wasn't restricted by a soul. It's interesting that Soulless!Sam still had SOME morality though - maybe because hunting is all Sam's ever known, so Soulless!Sam knew how to keep doing that, he just got more brutal in the practice - sacrificing innocent people in order to do the job more efficiently. I don't think he ever killed anyone just for annoying him though - he seemed to retain the knowledge that he shouldn't, he seemed to still care a LITTLE bit about what was a justifiable reaction and what wasn't in the eyes of someone with a moral code.
Sam: "It's like the littlest things can set them off... kinda like me.
Sam: "Yeah, soulless me, remember that?"
Dean: "How could I forget - but you weren't out of control like these people?"
Sam: "Yeah, well, maybe everyone has a different reaction to losing their soul..."
- So, Sam wasn't out of control, BUT, he does immediately connect that these people can be "set off" by the "littlest things" - since Sam has all his memories now, we can only gather from this that Sam REMEMBERS being set off by the littlest things.... yet, we also know that Soulless!Sam never killed people just for annoying him, which means that if he was being set off be the littlest things, he had to also be exercising a large degree of control that these people just don't have.
- Further to that, we also know from previous seasons that Sam held a large amount of anger his entirely life - "angry all the time" is how he put it - now, that MIGHT have been attached to his soul, since Soulless!Sam was fairly emotionless, but let's assume it isn't. That means that we have someone who already has a base of anger, who then has the thing that tempers that anger removed, and yet he's STILL able to contain and subdue that anger in order to not murder excessively. That's pretty damn amazing!
Crowley: "You're lying to Sam like he's your wife - which kind of makes me a mistress."
- Firstly, Sam IS Dean's wife, they got married in that church last year - you were the ONLY WITNESS, CROWLEY. Geez.
- Secondly, I wonder how far in the future it will be when the joke stops being "like he's your wife" and instead becomes gender neutral, "like he's your spouse" - because marriage is no longer heteronomative and it's no longer amusing to refer to men as women, because we're all equal. Spoiler alert: I will be dead by then.
Julia: "Now listen young man, those demons are back...
Julia: "Don't patronize me, you little turd!"
- Haha, I love her.
Sam: "Now why don't you tell me all about these demons, Ms. Wilkinson."
Julia: "Please, call me Julia."
- And we get a character named after my friend Jules!! So awesome!! Most of you probably know Jules as missyjack, or the admin for the Supernatural Wiki (who also runs the SuperWiki twitter account). It's not the first time Supernatural has named a character after a prominant person in the fan community, but it's the first time it's been someone who is a friend of mine! So, I get a bit giddy about it. :)
Julia: "Well, Agent, they came.. they came to Milton."
Julia: "I say demons and you don't bat an eye, when everyone else around here thinks I'm nuts on toast."
- I love the fact that she's suddenly suspicious because she's being taken seriously. She goes from "Finally, someone is taking me seriously!" to "Wait... WHY is he taking me seriously, I sound insane?!" and it's awesome.
Julia: "You're one of them, aren't you?"
Sam: "Sorry, one of who?"
Julia: "Men of Letters. They came here in 1958."
Sam: "Men of Letters? Came here?"
- I love how freaked Sam gets that he's stumbled on a Men of Letters' case.
- Did I timeline this? Goddamn it. I have to go look that up now. Yes, yes I did. This is what happens when I timeline and rewatch separately - timelining gets done faster, but then I can't remember how thorough a job I did and have to keep double-cheking everything. (The the answer is usually always "pretty damn thoroguh, ffs it's YOU.)
Henry Winchester and Josie!
I kind of wish sometimes that Henry weren't dead - I don't know what the hell they'd do with him, but I like the character and the actor, so I guess I just want to see him more often. I also wish we'd get more Josie stories too, but I guess we won't. Sigh... the Supernatural universe is pretty cruel, because it's so very rich in fascinating characters yet so very poor in time we get to spend with them.
I love the long shot of Dean racking the pool balls. Actually, this whole scene (or the beginning anyway) is one long shot and it's gorgeous and awesome.
Crowley: "I think you felt powerful, virile, and afraid."
Crowley: "Don't scam a scam artist, darling. You're stalling, because you're scared."
- Ah, so maybe Dean's single-minded focus isn't about craving having the blade back in his hands, but rather avoiding hunting because of the blood lust he can feel rising inside of him. Maybe he's not obsessed, but rather hiding behind an obsession - researching because he knows he'll find nothing, rather because he's desperate to find anything.
Julia: "Where would you like to begin?"
Josie: "Sister Mary Catherine's sleeping quarters, please."
*Julia looks to Henry*
Henry: "Sister Mary Catherine's room it is."
- I love that they added in the sexism, especially in a place like a convent.
Henry: "As our initiation grows closer, I'm beginning to wonder if this might be a selfish endeavour on my part."
Josie: "Selfish how?"
Henry: "If anything were to happen to me, what of John - Millie?"
- Awww... it's sad, because basically all his worst fears came true ON the evening of his initiation. And Millie either moved back to her hometown of Lawrence to live with her parents, or eventually remarried and moved with her new husband to Lawrence... and I wonder if maybe no matter what Henry did, join the Men of Letters or no, if he was destined to die because John had to eventually move back to Lawrence in order to be closer to the Campbell bloodline. It seems kind of fortuitous that the two bloodlines would end up in the same town coincidentally... but I probably talked about this last year when I wondered why exactly Abaddon massacred the Men of Letters and figured that it was probably part of the apocalypse plan being orchastrated by Heaven and Hell, even though they hadn't gotten the location of Lucifer's cage yet.
I guess they needed the writing in order to link the attacks - "Evil", "Nothing" - that's what's written on the walls of the dead nun's room. I just find it fascinating and/or weird - like maybe the soulless!bodies are still somehow linked to their souls that are being kept in jars.
*Julia voice-over*: "I was so scared. I prayed and prayed, but God didn't answer my prayers - Henry and Josie did."
- This is where religious people say that Henry and Josie were the hands that God worked through in order to answer Julia's prayers. But, SPN is fundamentally a humanist show, about restoring agency to humanity and believing in free will above all else - and of course, we know this is the case here, since we know that by this point God has long since abandoned Heaven.
Mother Superior/Abaddon: "Quickly dear, before this one pays for your stubbornness!"
- I swear, I thought she said "before this one pees for your stubbornness" and I was like "well, someone wetting themselves IS embarassing, but that's kind of an odd threat..."
And now we get Josie sacrificing herself for Henry, because she knows that if Abaddon processes Henry, she'll probably end up killing Henry AND Henry's family.
Sister: "You're going to study the Men of Letters?"
Abaddon: "For a moment - and then I'll destroy them."
- See, this makes it sound like it was a whim, not part of the plan... but I think it MUST have been part of the plan, because it works out too perfectly - the Men of Letters destroyed, when they were probably the only group that could have seen the machinations of setting up for the apocalypse... the Winchester family cut off from knowledge of the Supernatural, returning and/or being lead back to Lawrence where the Campbell bloodline resided. Hell didn't know about the importance of bloodlines until the 1970s, but the angels knew long before then... and we know that the apocalypse was a joint effort. So, it was either a convenient happenstance that Abaddon's whim lead to those events, or Abaddon was actually told to destory the Men of Letters already and had already been looking for a way in, and this was just the first opportunity she found.
Dean: "When I kill, I kill for a reason. I'm nothing like Cain."
- Ah, so, this is the thing - Dean has started to want to kill for no reason - just to kill. And yes, that's what's terrifying him - rightly so.
And Dean stops the dude from killing Crowley... I'm still not sure what the point of this is. Because Dean's not wrong here - the dude is obviously an amateur and bringing a normal knife to a fight with the King of Hell is a fools errand. So, Dean stopping him doesn't necessarily show any change of sympathies or whatever the hell Crowley was testing. But maybe I'm missing something?
Dean: "Demons don't take leaks. Next time you want to shoot up, find a better excuse."
Crowley: "Guilty as charged."
Dean: "What happened? I thought you were cleaning up your act."
Crowley: "Well, I was going to, but then after very little soul searching, I decided to embrace my addiction - what about you? Takes a junky to know a junky. You just want to touch that precious again, don't you?"
- And here Crowley confirms BOTH mine and his hypothosises - Dean is scared of his addiction to the bloodlust/power of the Blade, and he's also obsessiving over Abaddon because he knows that will get him the Blade back faster.
Also, interesting to note: the bar Dean is at is called the Milton. The town Sam is in is also called Milton - did Dean follow Sam to town, just in case he needed help? Or is it an odd coincidence?
Demon: "You did do what you'd say he'd do. He saved you."
Crowley: "Of course he saved me. We're besties. And now he's ready."
- Ready for what? I'm confused.
- Also, he didn't save you Crowley, he saved the inept amateur hunter - you need a better ruse to test him with, because Dean ALWAYS saves amateurs. Dean knew that Crowley was never in any danger - the only person who would have been in danger was the hunter. The only way that ruse would have worked is if the hunter had acted more experienced or had the Colt or an angel blade or SOMETHING potentially fatal to the King of Hell.
And I just realized that the jacket Dean is wearing in this episode is the former "one off" that he wore in Goodbye Stranger when Cas beat the shit out of him. Maybe I should rename it "Dean's Unlucky Jacket" or possibly "Dean's Episode 17 Jacket"
I wonder if Agnus managed to crack one of Sam's lower ribs... though he's kinda holding his waist more - I don't know enough anatomy to know what's over there. I think your spleen is on the other side, kidneys are lower.... *looks up anatomy drawing*... uh, his liver? His ascending colon? It's probably a lower rib that he's injured. Do men have less ribs than women or more? Oh, the same... the fewer thing is just a bible story. Huh. Learn something new everyday! (And apparently I'm learning something that people have known since 1543, obviously I really paid attention in my high school biology class. :P )
Agnus: "So she made a plan - if you can't convince them, make them."
- So, here we get the feeling that besides very bad (faithless) people, crossroads deals are the only way that Hell can get souls, or that demons can amass souls that belong to them (and thus make them more powerful). Crowley is King, because he was first King of the Crossroads - Abaddon doesn't have that skill, so she takes hers by force.
Agnus: "Unbeatable demon army. Loyal only to her."
- Ah, nevermind, it's not so much about pocessing souls as having followers - Abaddon is, I suppose, killing two birds with one stone here. Taking souls and turning them into demonic followers.
The cellphone recording!! So awesome! And Sam must have gotten a VERY strong phonecase (obviously thinking of his job).
And Sam's phone is no more. Crushed by demon - I don't think that's covered under the warranty.
I LOVE the way they did the souls... firstly, because it's gorgeous, and secondly, because they move like a sentient thing.
And I'm guessing everyone in the jail could probably claim psychotic break - since no one will believe them that a glowing thing flew into their mouth and they suddenly didn't feel like killing things anymore.
Sam: "Can I ask you something?"
Julia: "If it's for a date, I'm sorry. I never see anyone under 65 - too much drama."
- Hehehe. I also love Sam's laugh here too.
Sam wore one S8 shirt and two S3 shirts in this episode, and a S6 jacket, btw. (I don't remember every episode particular shirts have been in, but I usually remember their first appearances).
Sam: "After witnessing what you did. Why didn't you warn Henry about Abaddon?"
Julia: "I became a nun because I wanted to help people - make a difference. But they never prepared - they never tell you how to act in the face of true evil. [...] Soon after I left the order."
Julia: "Because I was ashamed. I had betrayed our flock, God, myself. It was and still is my greatest shame."
Sam: "Well, what you shared with me saved lives and I couldn't have done that without you. Take care."
- Awww.... Sam's so awesome. Also, I love the fact that they have a realistic protrayal of someone's choice in the face of evil - that they'd instinctively protect themselves and then only really be able to regret it later when the adrenaline wears off. It reminds us how exceptional people like Sam and Dean are, who have basically had that self-protective instinct trained out of them (or perhaps never possessed it), sometimes to their detriment.
Sam: "You were right."
Dean: "About what?"
Sam: "Finding Abaddon, ASAP. She's mining souls."
Sam: "To create an army."
- So, now Sam has a reason to be super mad at Abaddon too... more so than before, because the longer she's around, the more souls get mined. It's good, because it gives us all a reason for the priority on Abaddon, but I kind of think that perhaps it should have been done sooner - but, I'm just being picky.
- I think they filmed all the bunker scenes with Sam and Dean on the same day (it'd make sense) and I think Jensen might have had a cold at the time, because in both scenes with Sam, there's something just a little off about his voice.
Writer: Adam Glass
Director: Misha Collins
Misha: "I don't really know how this director-writer commentary is supposed to work, so what you're about to see is something of a train wreck."
The teaser death is the one day that Adam brought his daughter to set. It's also one of the multiple times that Adam has written a wife killing her husband, as noticed by Jeremy Carver.
Misha wasn't asked to direct. He had to ask... or insisted, as he puts it.
It's one of the few episodes that has both an A, B, and C plot.
Misha: "No one gets the phone like Jensen, I have to say."
Misha talks about how Jared and Jensen were so excited to prank him at the end of the day, that they actually were really well behaved for the beginning part of the day. Adam talks about how he told Jared to go easy on Misha, and Jared replied "Yeah, that's not happening."
Adam talks about how they decided to have losing your soul be different for everyone.
Bob Singer shadowed Misha on the first day of directing to make sure he wouldn't mess up - but it made Misha so nervous that he did mess up.
Adam: "I actually thought this kid was good!"
Misha: "Why do you say that like you're surprised."
Adam: "Because you casted him."
- I love the fact that Adam screws up his verb conjugation when talking - a true writer! Hahaha
Misha talks about how directing lets you into a side of the production that you never get to see as an actor. Actors show up and everything is ready, and they don't get to see the amount of work that goes into that.
Adam praises the editors, because sometimes they can pick up on things that the directors and writers don't even think of.
Adam says that tying things together by the photos and the flashback is all from his experience writing on Cold Case.
Sam's FBI alias in this episode was a James Bond reference.
Misha tells the story of trying to do a cool transition and the editor didn't include it in the finished product, and when he asked why, she said that if she had done that in film school she would have gotten an F.
Adam talks about how awesome Gil and Alainna are.
They talk about the chemistry between Dean and Crowley...
Misha: "It's very very steamy, very erotic tension..."
Adam: "hahaha, jealous?"
Misha: "A little bit."
Misha talks about another shot he set up with the cameras and then was told by post-production not to do that. :P
Misha praises the local Vancouver hires for being so awesome.
The mansion they used for the flashbacks was actually a former convent. (and a location they use a LOT in SPN).
Adam: "Millie, whatever happened to Millie Winchester?... CANCER! It's a show where everyone dies in horrific- but no, no, all alone, cancer, by herself."
- Geez, man, that's worse.
Misha: "I've never read an entire Supernatural script, because there's all those pages I'm not on... No, when you read a script as a director, you have to think of all this minutia..."
Adam talks about how he and Misha talked about the episode beforehand and how Adam wanted to get back to the mood in the first few seasons and the "darkness" to them, and he really thinks Misha accomplished that.
Misha says he went back and studied mostly Kim Manner's episodes in order to accomplish that.
- And yeah, it makes sense that the show did sort of lose that atmosphere after Kim's death, I never really put that together before - but he wasn't just a director, but also their onset producer, so he had a lot of influence over the mood of those first few seasons.
Adam named Josie Sands after his daughter Josephine.
Adam talks about the fact that had Josie not sacrificed herself then Sam and Dean might not have existed.
Adam: "This one move allows our story as we know it today to exist. Basically making me a God."
Misha: "Interesting how you did that. That's clever. Hey, I want to do a flashback episode that basically makes it so that I created the entire universe."
Adam: "Exactly. Eric who?"
Misha talks about the importance of the cinematographer and the camer operators, and how they keep the consistent feel of the show - so no director can make an episode look starkly different, but there's room for nuance.
Misha: "I think I also shot a slightly slower episode of the show, for better or for worse, but I think that's just how I am. Um, and that's just sort of my personality coming out in this episode."
Adam: "But I think that's what I like about it, that you set a slower pace, so it allows the story to come out..."
- YES! I've said it before and I'll say it again - slowness is what Supernatural NEEDS. A lot of the problems of the past few years are because they've tried to make it too fast paced and tried to cram too much in... give me a five minute opening with barely any dialogue (4x01), that's the kind of stuff that I fell in love with. Give me Sam brushing his teeth while Dean groggily wakes up... give me the quiet slow moments where the boys feel the weight of their lives and we can feel it too.
Misha talks about how the most difficult thing was learning the parts of the process that he had no idea of... he'd never been on a tech-scout before (where you drive around and tell the heads of the department what you're doing at the different locations - what cranes you need, what shots, etc), but Misha was not prepared at all for it... and had to pretend that he knew what he what exactly they were doing at each location.
Misha talks about how often they use the backlot (the old Watchman set)... and how they keep repainting it.
Adam: "It was BFFs, but Mark called me and said he wanted to say 'besties'"
Misha: "Yeah, Mark felt very strongly about that."
*Adam does an impression of Mark Shepperd: "Crowley wouldn't say BFF, he'd say Besties."
Adam: "We actually have one of the few shows where our guys probably could kick some monster butt... they're big dudes."
Misha: "They are, they're scary, they're dangerous, they're a threat - they're a menace... especially [Jared]"
Misha talks about how much easier it is to shoot on set - so if they can build a set, they go with that option rather than use a location.
Misha: "You can do as much exposition as you want, if it's being delivered by a nun holding a bloody knife."
Adam: "That's the rule?"
Misha: "That's the rule."
They joke about making a demon exercism app.
Misha talks about shooting the souls escaping, and how one of the grips held a tennis ball size light on the end of a poll and moved it around.
Misha: "I know it sounds like cheating - we should have just gotten a real soul."
Adam talks again about how good the kid was: "I think we'll be seeing him again, folks. Look out for Kirk."
Misha talks about how awesome the actress playing Julia Wilkenson was.
Misha: "Yeah, something had to sell the writing and directing on this episode."
Adam: "Who isn't good on this!"
Misha: "Well, Jared wasn't that good."
Misha found directing exilirating and would love to do it again.
Adam mentions how much fun it was to set up the backstory for stuff we've already seen. The parting shot of Abaddon wasn't written into the script, but it was a fantastic addition, in Adam's opinion.
And there you have it! Let me know your own thoughts in comments. :)
Also, once again, please forgive spelling mistakes. :)