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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

About: Supernatural "The Man Who Knew Too Much"

This season finale had a lot to live up to. Last season we got the beautifully written, acted and directed Swan Song; Eric Kripke’s “love letter to the fans”. It was a poignant look at the tragic lives of the Winchester brothers; their sacrifices, their losses and most importantly, their love for one another. That is a tough act to follow. So consider this my disclaimer. Swan Song is one of my favorite hours of television, ever. And try as I may, I can’t help but compare every season finale to it from here on out. Don’t worry, I’m not going to rip The Man Who Knew Too Much to shreds, in fact I enjoyed it. It wasn’t perfect, but few episodes are.

We opened the episode with Sam running from the cops. Being the spoiler-phobe I am, I avoided anything that might ruin any season-end surprises for me so I really had no idea what was happening. It would seem that with angels and demons on their trail, the cops would be the least of the Winchester’s worries. But we soon came to find that Sam didn’t have any recollection of who he was. Of course the wall would crumble now when we need it most! This was the moment I realized just how separate these two season finale episodes were meant to be. Let it Bleed left off with Dean’s painful decision to let Lisa and Ben go and all of a sudden Sam is running from the cops with no memory of who he is.

Of course, I was immediately suspicious of the bartender. If Supernatural has taught me one thing, it’s to be careful who you trust. A lesson we’ve all learned well as of late. It didn’t help that she was a little too eager to help Sam; offering him a ride to a neighboring town. Sure he’s handsome (understatement), but have some common sense, lady. He’s huge and he’s being chased by the police. My initial thought was that she was a demon or an angel and I hoped that Sam remembered enough to catch on quickly.

If I have one complaint about this sequence of events, it would be that it felt a little long. I understand that Sam needed to put the pieces together and remember who he was before he could even begin to put himself together again. And maybe it’s unrealistic to wish that figuring all that out would have taken less time. I don’t know, but there was a lot to cover in the episode and I wished we could have spent more time on some of the other parts.

Is it strange to say I liked seeing Soulless Sam one more time? Jared did such a great job playing him this season and it was fun to see the two side by side. Once I realized what Sam needed to do to put himself together again, I had another question. Assuming Sam can only be truly complete with all three pieces, what is he without his soulless side and memories of Hell? In other words, has he been incomplete since the wall went up or are his memories and soulless side still a part of him regardless? Any thoughts?

Once Sam defeated Soulless Sam my doubts about the bartender were confirmed. Sure she wasn’t a demon or an angel, but she wasn’t what she seemed. She was merely a memory of Sam’s Soulless year acting as a warning for him to turn back. But being the Sam he is, he can’t do that.

Poor Dean left agonizing over the loss of Sam, yet again. Castiel had taken the wall down for reasons I don’t fully understand. Was it just to distract Dean from the hunt? If so, it worked for a while. But even after all the bad blood I still thought Castiel cared about Sam and he surely knows that taking the wall down could kill him. Did he anticipate becoming the new God and restoring Sam at that time? Either way, it was a cruel move.

“I will save Sam, but only if you stand down”.

Castiel should know better by now. Dean won’t stand down, especially now that he’s endangered Sam.

Once Castiel and Crowley obtained Elle’s blood, they had everything they needed to open Purgatory. So naturally this was the moment that a betrayal was bound to happen. A fact I’m positive Crowley and Castiel were both conscious of.  Of course, I envisioned the betrayal going the other way. I assumed that Crowley would be the one to betray Castiel, leaving him friendless and on the bad side of Heaven and Hell. But Cas beat him to the punch with his plan to renegotiate the terms of their agreement. “You get nothing”. Cocky as it was, I was proud of Castiel in that moment. Giving any souls to Crowley could have been detrimental.

“I’m neither stupid nor wicked”

I’m not sure Sam, Dean and Bobby would agree with that statement at this point, but I naively hoped, as I always do, that this was the moment Cas would come back to us. But when he killed Balthazar for leaking information to Dean and Bobby I knew that my naïve hopes were just that. I felt bad for Balthazar. As far as moral compasses go, his wasn’t exactly pointing due north, but he saw wrong being done and he took steps to make it right, even if it meant betraying a friend. 

Sam arrives at Bobby’s house to find the final piece of his puzzle; the Sam who remembers Hell. This is the Sam I was most scared to meet. By now we know what to expect of Soulless Sam. We spent the whole first half of the season with him, but until now we don’t know much about this other Sam. Truth be told he was much more miserable than I expected. He wasn’t menacing or wicked like I thought he might be. Instead he was deeply scarred (physically and emotionally) by the memories of Hell and even tried to look out for Sam; offering him the chance to escape the memories. He explained that Sam could just stay inside his mind forever, even offering the chance to go and find Jess. But Sam wouldn’t do it. “I’m not leaving my brother alone out there.” And that was enough for Hell Sam to hand the knife over and allow himself to be killed.

As expected, Crowley wasn’t planning to go down without a fight. He just needed a little insurance which he found in the form of Raphael. Something it seems Castiel half-expected. I should have seen the blood switch coming, but I didn’t. It was a pretty slick move on Castiel’s part; a surefire way to ensure that his spell would go uninterrupted. 

So Cas was right, his plan worked. He defeated Raphael and stopped the Apocalypse again, but at what cost? He is a ticking time bomb and a shell of the Cas we once knew. It was hard to watch Dean put himself out there again only to get shot down.
“You’re not my family, Dean. I have no family.”

And when Sam stabs Castiel and nothing happens I realized that we were dealing with a whole new animal.

“I’m not an angel anymore. I’m your new god, a better one.”

Something tells my Cas will pay for those words in the near future. I’m possible the only fan who still thinks the real God/Chuck?  is out there and he won’t be pleased with Castiel’s transformation.

So we have some questions going into season seven. To me they don’t feel as substantial as the question we usually end the season with. But to be fair, the season finales up until this point have ended with deaths or near-death experiences. So this is new territory for the show. In fact, this whole season seems like a bit of twist. By that I mean there wasn’t an identified big bad, but rather a string of unfortunate circumstances that snowballed across the season.  It’s nice to see Supernatural shake things up a bit, even if it’s not perfect. There are definitely still enough questions to keep me coming back next season. As if they could keep me away. So here are the main questions we have going into season seven. Let’s speculate. We have nothing else to do for the next four months!

How far will Castiel go to make the boys bow down to him? They won’t do it and he can’t kill them. So where does that leave us?

What will a world where Castiel is god (or thinks he’s god) look like?

What is going to happen to Sam? He was strong enough to regain consciousness but I think his “eggs are still a little scrambled” to steal a line from Dean. Will he suffer seizures or headaches a la second season? Will the memories haunt him and turn him into a different Sam than the one we know and love?

Cas said he has plans for Crowley. I wonder what these plans are? I’m sure he’ll kill him, but I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a little torture or servitude that went along with it.

There were, of course, some great one liners that I wanted to mention

  • I loved Sam describing Dean and Bobby as a “male model type and an older guy”
  • Bobby: “We’ll ninja our way in." ”Dean: “Till they hear your knee squeak.”
  • I liked the Jurassic Park nod. I loved that movie growing up!
  • Crowley: “Sweaty hands, mate.”
  • Sam: “I guess I’ll take my car.” Yeah…in your dreams, Sam.
  • Soulless Sam: “My god, am I really that gawky?”
  • Balthazar: “How’s sleeping beauty? You didn’t steal any kisses, I trust?”

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