Hell's Half Acre (hells_half_acre) wrote,
Hell's Half Acre

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Quick Reaction: 13x05 Advanced Thanatology

 Hello! I am writing this is sunny southern California! Where I have foolishly gotten a sunburn on my first day in town, because I'm a dumb Canadian! 

It also meant that I watched the episode live, on TV, on it's own network! What the heck?! 

Now let's talk about the episode! Because it was really good (IMO) and I'm quite pleased with Steve Yockey's work here...

So, we begin with a THEN that reminds us that the Winchester's lives are all Pain, Horror, and Death - also, that they're a disruption to the natural order and that Billie wanted to throw them in the Empty.

NOW - we open in Grand Junction, CO, with my note of "Youths!" Stupid youths who are breaking into an abandoned mental health centre... all ghostfacers style, except for only one of them is enthused. Then they're dumb and they steal one of the plague masks from the ghost - guys, just, don't steal from ghosts, 'kay?

The ghost attacks them and they both get a drill to the head, though one of them manages to run away.

Now to S&D, it's breakfast time! They often start episodes at Breakfast now... and I kind a like the habit. It makes timelining easier, because I know vaguly what time of day they may have left... though, that being said, there's no way to tell whether they're having breakfast in the morning or the afternoon, because they live underground. BUT, for simplicity sake, and because we've seen Sam wake up at 6am before, I'm going with the headcanon that they actually keep a pretty strict and regular sleep pattern, probably partially drilled into them by John. (Hey, fun fact, for a while my mother tried to live like a solder on a submarine, who apparently get by sleeping on rotating 6 hour sleep-shifts, or something. It didn't work, but my mum was momentarily convinced that pretending she lived on a submarine and was in active naval combat was some sort of solution to her problems.)


Sam compliments Dean's breakfast choice and then offers him a beer... and Dean's getting suspicious - but then Sam distracts him with a case! The case of the attacked boy in Colorado. Dean asks about Jack, and we get the explanation that it'll just be Sam and Dean, like ol' times! And that Jack is watching all of Sam's old fantasy DVDs like Red Sonja and the Beastmaster movies... um, Sam, really? *shrug*

So, it's off to Colorado, where we find out that Sean, the kid, has become mute in his trauma... so what do you do? Send in Dean! Who was at one time also a trauma-mute... though it was when he was five, so he may not remember well at this point. While Dean tries to get the kid to talk, Sam talks to the mother - who tells him about how there's a third friend who probably knows what happened and is lying to the cops. Dean doesn't make much headway with the kid, who like most fictional mute kids, is obsessively trying to communicate through drawing...

Also, why didn't Dean take one of those drawings? Who knows.

Dean tells the kid though that he and Sam hunt monsters, and it's a pretty good speech. 

Then they take off and go to the motel/hotel place, and Sam starts laying it on a bit too thick when he acts like he wants to go to a strip-club with Dean.... a strip-club that he claims got good reviews... and just, the thought of Sam looking up yelp reviews for strip-clubs is hilarious.

Dean ask Sam what the heck he's doing - because earlier (which I forgot to mention), Sam let Dean be Agent Page, even though Sam always insists on being Agent Page (and man, I LOVE that little scrap of info that Sam has a preference for which member of Led Zeppelin he's using as an alias. We have such little Sam-preference information in SPN... though, in the last couple years we've gotten serial-killer interest and now crappy fantasy movies.)

Apparently, the last time Sam went to a strip-club and had a lapdance, it was Christmas (Did Dean say last Christmas? Or give any time-reference to this, btw? I need to know for timelining purposes)... and Dean's gift was a lapdance (they have a very weird brother relationship...was Dean there? He had to have been there, watching, because he knows what Sam did during the lapdance... I mean, this fic pretty much writes itself and I don't even like wincest*).. and Sam spent the entire lapdance convincing the stripper to go back to nursing school.

(*unless it's super fucked up)

Sam, as we find out, is trying to be nice... because Dean said he was struggling...  so, I'm of two minds on this, 1)I wish the show would remember more often that Sam has feelings too - last week was really good about that, and I loved it. 2)This DOES support my theory that the way Sam is dealing - and the way Sam usually deals - is to become hyper-focused on something to the exclusion of all other thought. With Jess, it was revenge, for example. This time, it's training Jack to reopen the door and convincing himself that Mary can be rescued (this keeps the focus away from Cas and himself firmly in denial-land about the finality of Mary's disappearance.) Last episode, Sam started questioning his denial and was distressed, and Dean was like "don't be as distressed as me, please!" and Sam was like "Dean is distressed! I MUST HYPER-FOCUS ON DEAN-CARE!" and so he looked up strip-clubs, and made new IDs so that Dean could be Agent Page (seriously, how cute - it was an arts&crafts I LOVE YOU project.).

Sidenote: I loved the note Jensen through in here with Dean thinking the doors were automatic and then getting frustrated when they weren't. We've all been there, and it's little things like that adds the verisimilitude to a fantasy show.

Dean insists that Sam doesn't have to lay it on so thick and that he'll be fine with his usual coping mechanisms - Bullets, Bacon, and Booze. 

Meanwhile, little Sean has a nightmare... and yeah, he's going to die, and it's sad. :(

In the morning, Sam wakes up to find Dean's bed unslept in and empty. "Sam's pretty though" my notes say. Dean, as it turns out, is passed out on the floor, with overdone accessories that speak to a night of debauchery.... so, okay, done for amusement, but how on EARTH would Sam have slept through drunk Dean coming back from a strip club? I mean, I excuse a lot of the sneaking-out the boys used to do on each other back in the day, because they're 1)trained to be stealthy, 2)used to the sound of each other's movements...similar to how I don't wake up to the fire trucks going by my apartment, because I've lived down the road from the fire hall since 2012 and I'm used to it.... but come-on, DRUNK Dean? Drunk Dean is probably not stealthy and also probably doesn't sound like regular Dean. So, it's either unbelievable, or Sam takes sleeping pills (which would also be out of character - so yeah, just unbelievable.)


Sam leaves Dean to sleep and goes to interrogate Mike, the third youth. Sam does a good job (and it's a great scene to compare to Sam's first solo interrogation way back in the pilot.) Mike spills the beans about the asylum, and also breaks our hearts by saying hopefully "[my friends] will be alright though, right?" or whatever... and it's like, no Mike, welcome to the cold hard reality of the world. You are the sole survivor.

Sam gets back to the motel to see Dean getting the continental breakfast.. clearly hung-over. Sam hands him a beer. Also, this supports my "wake up early" headcanon, because Dean has SLEPT IN and yet is still awake for hotel breakfast - hotel breakfast often ends at 10am, people. Me having breakfast anytime before 10am is considered a victory in getting up EARLY - if I've slept in, it means that LUNCH is nearly over.

Sam debriefs Dean on the asylum - it's the ol' mental illness horror trope, which is actually quite damaging to the mental health field and should not be supported... but, yeah, I'm not holding my breath on that one, so we'll set it aside so that I can enjoy the episode.

Then they get the call that Sean's dead.... but is he? Apparently he's "GONE" The plot thickens... and my notes mention that if he was taken, he's probably lobotimized by now, and is going to have a pretty rough life depending on what part of the brain was removed. Of course, we find out later that he is indeed dead - because you know, a proper lobotomy needs sterile equipment and for the patient to not be conscious etc.

So, it's off to the mental asylum... and here's my other little nitpick - I thought they pulled up in the night time? And when they're inside it's dark, but through some of the windows it looks like daylight outside? This is actually a critique of a FEW episodes in this season, because I've seen some similar discrepancies in other episodes where they can't seem to decide what time of day it is when it comes to lighting. It keeps throwing me off, and it's really odd, because usually Serge and his crew are some of the best on TV.

Another nitpick is the slow-to-react-to-ghost-for-tension-affect ... but hey, I guess Dean is hung-over, and the ghost DID kind of get the drop on Sam by throwing him demon-style.

Sam rescues Dean from the drill and helps him up, and then Dean does this weird thing where he kind of walks into Sam when he goes to walk by him. I want to see a gif of it, because why be that close? Is it like a Winchester version of a hug where you don't raise your arms? 


They find the masks and burn them, and then I get really confused because I think there's still one in the kid's house. Then I'm confused by the daylight out the window. 

And the next thing I know, Dean is pulling out suicide/resuscitation drugs and telling Sam to revive him in 3 minutes... and then I quickly put together that they DID kill the ghost, but then the ghosts' victims now need to be released too. Dean needs to find out where their bodies are

Dean successfully enters the veil, and very briefly encounters the most flight-attendance like Reaper we've ever seen.... whose name is Jessica. He blows her off, and she realizes who he is, and says "Oh god" and it's a great reaction.

Then she runs off to a file room and announces that Dean's in the veil.

Dean is having a shit-day, because he discovers Sean's ghost. Sean tells him about how he was ghost-possessed and then made to kill himself after returning the mask. So, they DID get all the masks.

Sean rubs in this horrible circumstance by telling Dean that he misses his mom. Ugh. My heart. But also, this is sort of a nice reminder that at least the Winchesters die in the right order... I mean, as horrible as it is, your parents are SUPPOSED to die before you... granted, not in their later 30s/40s/50s... but....yeah.

ANYWAY, Dean finds out where the bodies are and runs back to wait to be revived next to Sam... and Sam gives him the revive drug, and then it doesn't work!

(Also, medical sidenote here: THIS IS A HORRIBLE IDEA. Every time you die, and I'm serious here... any time you momentarily "die", your brain is deprived of oxygen for a period of time. No matter how brief the "death" you WILL suffer brain damage, more than likely PERMANENT brain damage. This is why the current opiod/fentanyl epidemic is horrific and is such a huge burden on our healthcare systems. So, don't do drugs, people.)

So, there's Dean, seemingly dead for realzies, and Sam freaking out... and that's when we get Billie's entrance - and she's fully kitted out as Death. 

She then freezes time, and takes Dean to the file room.

We learn that the way things work - if someone kills Death, then the next reaper that dies takes Death's place. NOW, okay, you all know my feelings on Death and Reapers - A)YOU CAN'T KILL DEATH. You can't kill any of the horseman, why would Death be an exception... especially since you just CAN'T KILL DEATH. B)YOU CAN'T KILL REAPERS EITHER! Arg, that's like Reaper 101 - Dean knew it in S2, Bobby knew it in S7 - you can delay them, you can try to reason with them, but you can't kill them. C)REAPERS AREN'T ANGELS! Reapers are to Death what Angels are to God. And Death and God are two SEPARATE AND DISTINCT entities in the universe. 

So, this is all to say that...I'm going to report what Billie says, and then I'll report how I headcanon it so that it's not a load of crap.

According to Billie, if Death dies, then the next reaper that is killed takes his place. So, Castiel killing Billie gave her a promotion of sorts. You have to die to become Death (which is pretty cool, I have to admit.)

Now, in my headcanon for this, Billie perhaps IS Death ("she is become death, destroyer of worlds")... but she is Death as we knew him, not Billie - she is Death in a new form, the same Death. She perhaps has been this whole time. When Famine was "destroyed" by Sam, we're told that he's not dead, just reduced to a weakened form. Same, we're assuming, with War, who simply disappeared when they cut his finger off. Actually, I think Death confirmed that War, Faminine, and Pestilence were defeated, not dead. So, it makes more sense that Dean DEFEATED Death, momentarily (which is supported by a lot of our modern mythology around Death and the idea that if you can defeat him in a battle or whatever, you can save yourself.... see Bill and Ted, or whatever that movie was where they play checkers.) ANYWAY... so, Death was defeated, and returned to a weakened form - Billie, who either legitimately pissed off about the defeat, or just played the part... OR, it was Death in a weakened form - in the form of one of his reapers, using their preferred identity. (Let's not forget that canonically, the Reapers USE names, they don't have them, because humans respond better to a being with a human form and a human name.... Tessa is Tessa only because Dean freaked out about her non-corporeal true form, when he caught a glimpse of her collecting souls in the hospital.)

Then, as Billie says, Cas "killed" her and the job of Death was revealed to her - why? Because she DIDN'T DIE, yet again, she was only defeated...or perhaps being faux-murdered actually reinvigorated Death? Maybe "dying" by a means outside of the scythe actually gives Death strength in a weird reverse-psychology type way.)

Anyway, the point is that in order to speak with Dean, Billie had to reveal that A)she wasn't dead, and B)she was actually Death - surprise, you can't keep Death down for long. Death will live long enough to reap God.

Now, sidenote here: I'm THRILLED that Billie is back. I love the character and I love the actress. She's fantastic. I loved Julian Richling too - don't get me wrong, but I also love Billie and the fact that Death now has a different relationship to Dean than before (...or DOES she... we'll get to that.)

Dean wonders if Death is keeping him dead, not letting the drug work. She says that it depends on him. She wants to know about how he and Sam were able to slip between worlds - because something that cosmic shouldn't have taken her off guard. Nothing should be outside Death's domain.

Dean says he'll tell her, if she does something for him. She asks what - and he tells her to free the ghosts in the asylum... and leaves it at that, not bothering to ask for his own return to life.

She says done, and then he tells her about Jack and what happened.

Billie than tells us that the universe is like a house of cards, and the Winchester's barrelling through walls between worlds is the sort of thing that can make it all collapse. Dean agrees.

Billie than begins to question Dean himself - saying that he's changed. And this is a great line, because she says that he's not the Dean Winchesters "I know and love." Now, I know that's an expression... but I also think it's very important, especially to my headcanon that Death never died. We've seen before on this show, if someone doesn't actually love another person, they'll change that last word, but Billie leaves it in. Why? Because Death always did have a soft spot for Dean.

Billie calls Dean out on the fact that he doesn't believe that he'll get through the grief this time. That he's lying and saying he'll recover when he won't.

Dean tells her that he doesn't think he matters. He can't save anyone. He's dragging Sam down. He argues that it might just be his time to go.

Billie rightly points out that Dean WANTS to die - that he effectively just made a suicide attempt, really. She then directs him to the shelves their standing next to. They hold notebooks with all of Dean's possible deaths - heartattack, stabbed by ghoul.... that there are many options. But that since Billie stepped fully into the role of Death, she's had to revise her earlier threat of throwing him into the Empty - because she sees there is a much larger picture... and that Sam and Dean are important to it. That they have "work to do" - and man, I love that line, because it both echoes the Winchester line of "we've got work to do" and (I believe) Castiel's line in 4x01, when he explains why he resurrected Dean.

Billie tells Dean that the notebooks confirm that he doesn't die that day, and that he has to keep living. Dean tries, in the end, to ask about his mother - and Billie (quite smartly) sends him back instantly... because she very much implied that she doesn't want the Winchesters barrelling through walls between worlds, and a good way to get them to do that is to tell them their Mom is still alive and trapped.

Dean comes back to life, to Sam's chant of "you're okay, you're okay" - which I also love, because it's TOTALLY for Sam's benefit. I do the same thing when I'm super stressed out about someone else's well being. I keep repeating that they're okay to try to calm myself down... this once led to my sister, so drunk that I was the only thing holding her upright, telling me "yeah, stop saying that! I'm great! I know!" But meanwhile, I was stressed out of my mind that she was going to pass out completely before I got her into a cab and back to her apartment.


We next see the coroner removing the bodies from the asylum. Sean's mother in tears. Dean doesn't want to talk about what happened and tells Sam that they'll talk about it later. To which Sam completely calls him on his bullshit (seriously, these boys are SO MUCH BETTER at communicating these days) - telling him that "but we won't talk about it later, [you/we] know that!" So, Dean spills about Death being Billie, and what she said. I love the way Sam asks "Why would she help us?" it's SO skeptical and well delivered, I can't even describe it.  Dean says it was because they had work to do, but she didn't elaborate.

Sam then asks if Dean is okay... and Dean is HONEST. Again, YAY COMMUNICATION!

Dean is NOT okay. He always believed that what they did was important enough to take the hits - to lose Dad and Bobby, etc. But it's too much lately, it doesn't seem like it IS that important anymore, not enough to weather losing mom and Cas too. "I need a win" and then my notes have " :( " because this case WAS Sam trying to get Dean a win and it completely backfired because they failed to save the kid, or anyone. 

Then we get Sam and Dean driving, and a little more heattbreak as we see Sean's mother crying over his body... and then Sam and Dean driving at night, when Sam is awoken by Dean's phone ringing - he answers and is SHOCKED.

And then they drive to a town, and down an alley, and up to a payphone... that has Castiel standing next to it (waiting overly long to turn around, just to be as dramatic as possible.)


Firstly, I REALLY hope it's Cas, because ugh, I'll be so mad if Dean's win isn't even a win at all.... and also, as I've said before, I really don't want to have another Cas-isn't-Cas storyline. 

Anyway, my headcanon of what Cas said on the phone is "Hello Dean, it's Castiel. I am alive. I am currently in [name of town] would it be possible for you to come pick me up?... Dean? ....Dean?" and meanwhile, Dean's brain is stuck on *voice* and "it's Castiel" and "alive" and cannot computer that this is a thing that he could possibly get after watching his BFF 4va's body burn.

(Oh man, speaking of BFFs 4va, the reason I'm in California is for my BFF's wedding - and this afternoon I got to hang out with him, and catch-up, in person and one-on-one for the first time in 6 years! And... goddamn, like, you wouldn't think it was possible to forget just how much you love someone, because you still feel like you know that - but then WAM, you're like "oh yeah, I love this person so much that it physically hurts." Anyway, I'm super happy for him.... and I'm really glad he's not dead. Poor Dean.)

Next week looks goofy, but it also looks like Dean might be happy?! So, that's good!

Oh, also, I'm away from my main computer, which means I gotta do the timelining stuff here so that I can insert it in my timeline file when I'm back in Canada. So: 2-3 days, depending on if they did the asylum at night or during the day - and how fast the coroner got there. Travel from Bunker, to Grand Junction Colorado (9-10 hour trip, most likely done on the same day as PB&J breakfast, given that on the first day in Grand Junction all they did was interview the witness and then go to bed/strip-club.) Then travel to unknown location to pick up Cas - though Cas could have made his way to Lebanon, which was why he didn't call sooner. (Also need to recheck this script/ep to see if Sam mentioned how long ago Dean told him that he didn't believe in everything, did he say "yesterday" "the other day"? or did he just say "you said...")

I did not do as good a job on a one-watch timelining of this episode. That's what happens when I don't have a PVR and the ability to rewind and double-check phrasings and/or lighting situations.  

I gotta say, I know not everyone is digging it, but I'm enjoying the season a lot so far - way more than I thought I would. Though, it all hangs in the balance in terms of where they go from here.

Anyway, let me know your version of "the phone call" in comments!

As usual, if you hated the episode, please remember my rule: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. If you need to complain, that's okay, but you HAVE to balance it by also talking about things you like... and even though in the past I've allowed "Jared and Jensen are nice to look at." That's not going to fly, it has to be something of equal weight to the thing that you didn't like... and the positives and the negatives HAVE to balance. You can't give me 10 negatives and then say "I liked Sam's hair" as your only positive.

Quick Reactions are for positive thoughts. You have to wait until rewatches next year to be a complete sourpuss.


This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/545610.html.
Tags: quick reaction, season 13

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