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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

About: Supernatural "Meet the New Boss"

After a long summer hellatus Supernatural is back with what I thought was a very strong premier. After a season chock-full of story lines and unanswered questions it was really nice to see some loose ends tied up quickly. Granted, these answers came with more questions but that's to be expected.

We pick up right where we left off. Castiel has just demanded that Dean, Sam and Bobby bow before him and they're actually about to which is the strangest part. of course they weren't doing it out of any kind of love or respect which Castiel points out. But that moment made me very aware of just how much they were up against. These men don't bow before anyone. But then again they've never been up against a juiced up angel with a God complex.

To say that Castiel has become unraveled would be a gross understatement. He has completely lost sight of the principles he once risked his life for and it shows more than ever during his monologue among the massacred angels. It's no longer team free will. These angels need a strong leader to guide them and hold them accountable for their actions. Fear will be the new motivator.

"It is a new day on Earth and in Heaven. Rejoice."

And he certainly doesn't stop there. There's too much injustice and too many sinners waiting to be punished. But what was his game plan, to wipe out sin completely? He really didn't think that one out very well, did he? And even though he's severely unhinged it was a clever move to make another deal with Crowley. Crowley is reappointed as king of Hell but Castiel controls the flow of souls thereby building up his own army and downsizing Hell while still controlling both. It's a pretty good idea in theory but isn't there reasoning behind who goes where? What would happen if Heaven filled up with souls that were meant to be in Hell? Even with Cas in charge it would be chaos.

Crowley accepts the deal of course; because it's that or death but he does seem apprehensive. If they agree on one thing though it's that Michael and Lucifer need to stay in the cage. Which got me thinking there may be a great escape at some point in the upcoming season. This is a complete shot in the dark but what if one or both of them found a way out of the cage? Can you imagine the complete and utter chaos? But who wouldn't love a scene between Mark Pellegrino and Mark Sheppard?

While Cas is going around making deals and smiting evil, Dean, Sam and Bobby are trying to figure out their next move. Poor Sam is not much help since his wall collapsed. His terrifying hallucinations and pretending to be fine for Dean's sake are not giving him much time to think about anything else.  And Dean is ready to give up completely. He wants to believe so badly that they've finally caught a break and Sam is okay. And as long as that is true, he doesn't seem to care about much else besides fixing up his baby. No big surprise there. This isn't the first time Dean has used fixing his car as a coping mechanism. So that leaves Bobby to be the brains of the operation.

Binding death was a bold move but it was really their only choice. Dean and Death have spent a fair amount of time together, they've even shared a few greasy meals. Even I thought that maybe Dean would be able to reason with him. But Death is nobody's bitch. He's never done anything for Sam or Dean out of the kindness of his heart. Even retrieving Sam's soul from the cage was meant to tip Dean off about the power of a soul. A lesson he didn't learn fast enough.

But Castiel shows up before an agreement is reached and he's not looking good. When his skin began to break down earlier in the episode I wondered if he as experiencing the signs of stigmata but Death cleared that up for me quickly.

"There are things much older than souls in Purgatory and you gulped those too."

Not only is Cas crammed full of thousands of souls, but he's also housing who knows how many Leviathan. As Death explains it, Leviathan are the creatures for which Purgatory was created. And if Castiel were to explode, he would release all those creatures into the world. That's just what we need.

Death does try to set one thing straight. He attempts to remind Castiel of what he's not.

"I know God, and you sir are no god."

Why is that the first time someone has said that to him? Sam, Dean and Bobby believed that Cas was God simply because he told them he was. And what makes him God exactly? Just the fact that he was more powerful than any of his fellow angels? I was confused by that and I was glad to have Death clear it up. Castiel isn't God, just an extremely powerful angel. The real God, wherever he/she may be would probably be able to easily contain that type of power without fear of imploding.

After Castiel flees, Death tells the boys that he will create another eclipse and they are to open the door to Purgatory and "compel" Castiel to give up the power. Dean argues that Castiel is too far gone to be reasoned with, but Sam insists that there have been times when he's been off the rails and Dean has never given up on him. A valid point in my opinion but Dean remains unconvinced. So it ends up being Sam who prays for Castiel one more time. And he shows up. I was really happy to see Castiel asking for help. His attempts to mend his broken relationships were heartbreaking. But I knew that Castiel changing his ways so quickly was no a good sign. Of course they couldn't just open Purgatory, deflate Cas and go about living their lives. That would be way too easy. But now the question remains; is Castiel still in his vessel with the Leviathan or is he really dead? Can he really be dead!? My obvious worry is that he is. But I'm also worried that maybe he's still alive and the writers plan to bring him back in another vessel. I don't think I want to see anyone but Misha Collins as Castiel. So if the writers are listening, please just find a way to bring Castiel back in his original vessel, ok? Thanks.

It should also be mentioned that I am so confused about what is going on in Sam's head! According to Lucifer, Sam isn't hallucinating. He's been in Hell this whole time only thinking he's free. The ultimate torture. I'm inclined to think that Sam is just hallucinating but how crazy would it be if last season was one big hallucination? Dean would still be living with Lisa and Ben, Castiel may not have taken gone off on his power trip, so many people would still be alive but Sam would still be in the cage and way past repair. I can't decide if I want the show to go in that direction. It would certainly be interesting but it could get pretty messy and confusing trying to remember what's real and what isn't. What do you guys think?

All these questions and we're only just beginning the season. I think it's off to a great start though, don't you agree? I'm feeling really good about this season but I want to know what you think.

There are a few random tidbits and lines I also want to mention.

*What did you all think of the new title card? I'm interested to figure out what it symbolizes. So far it looks like black goo but it could end up meaning a lot of things.

*Crowley lives in a trailer and listens to Nancy Sinatra. I kind of love it.

*Cas: "Tell your flock where your genitals have been before you speak for me."

*Witness: "We all saw him. No beard. No robe. He was young and sexy. He had a raincoat."

*Dean: "Excuse me, you got any Grey Poupon?"
Sam: "Grey Poupon. Seriously?"
Dean: "It's what popped in my head."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

About: Supernatural The Anime Series

I've never really gotten into anime. To be fair, I really haven't given it a try. So what better time to test the waters than when the CW offers two free episodes of Supernatural: The Anime series on their website. The episodes posted are All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 and 2, two of my favorite episodes of Supernatural to date. So right off the bat I knew this anime version had big shoes to fill.

I do have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It helped that both episodes were voiced by Jared and Jensen. I understand that Jensen only voices a handful of episodes in this season. I really can't imagine anyone else as Dean so I think this was a huge plus. The episodes run 22 minutes as opposed to the regular series 42 minutes so things move quickly.

All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 starts with Sam disappearing into thin air. We later learn he was transported to Cold Oak (although I think they referred to it as Cold Creek at one point) a ghost town where Azazel has gathered all the special children. It is discovered that only one of them can leave Cold Oak alive and the killing ensues. Poor Sammy. Part 2 picks up with Dean talking to Sam's dead body; A scene that has always tugged at my heart strings. I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up but this abbreviated scene just didn't have near the emotional pull of the original series. Dean goes on to make the deal at the crossroads and bring Sam back to life. They reunite with a shell-shocked Bobby and begin to discover Azazel's plan to open the Devil's Gate.

The basic premise of these episodes follows the regular series closely. It's the details that are the big difference. For instance, Jake is a Sasquatch. Not a real one, of course. But he is huge. Bigger than Sam if that's possible. And they definitely cast him in a bad light from the beginning. There is no mistaking that Jake is a force to be reckoned with, something that I didn't necessarily get from Jake in the original series. It also comes up that Sam and Dean had saved Jake's mother and sister from some kind of Supernatural attack in the past, which I thought was an interesting twist from the original episode. Missouri, the psychic who appeared in a handful of original episodes also plays a significant role in these episodes, taking the place of Ellen. Dean and Bobby even go to Missouri's house to see if she can help them find Sam only to find it burned to the ground, much like The Roadhouse. I have always liked Missouri's character but I don't see her as a fair replacement for Ellen but maybe that's a personal preference. Anyone out there who has watched the whole season, is Ellen in any of the episodes of the anime series? I'd be interested to hear.

The anime series also relies heavily on effects; something they have the liberty to play around with much more than the regular series. When Jake uses his super strength he basically Hulks out, ripped shirt and everything. Even Sam seems to have heightened powers he doesn't normally possess. When Sam sleeps and Azazel talks to him, it is in a much more dream-like state in the anime episode. He watches Azazel feed him demon blood while perched on top of a giant, very veiny, yellow eyeball. (I'm really glad the regular series didn't go that route.) Things are also much more bloody in the animated series relying less on guns and more on brute force. I gotta say, I missed the guns a little. And when Jake sneaks up on Sam for the final blow, it's not a knife in his back. Instead, Jake shoves his entire fist through Sam's abdomen. Talk about bloody.

If I had to use one word to describe these two episodes I would probably call them stunted.  That's not to say they were bad, just condensed. Some aspects of the series suffered more than others. For instance, the emotional moments between the brothers don't read quite as well in this format. Some of that may be because Jared and Jensen aren't really voice actors by trade (although I think they do a pretty good job). And some of it may be the lack of their pretty, pretty faces on my screen. Who knows? But lines like "I've got a year to hang out with you, Sam" certainly didn't help the depth of emotion any. I also found that the plot moved so fast that at times I actually got a little confused even though I know the general premise like the back of my hand. I wonder if there is anyone out there who has seen the anime without ever watching the original series. I'd be interested to see if they were able to follow the story easily. Although I think it's a safe bet to say that they aren't reading this.  

So, I did it. I finally gave anime a try and I liked it. Did these episodes change my life? Not really. But I enjoyed them for what they were; more Supernatural. And that's never a bad thing.

I'd love to hear what you guys think of the anime series. Should I buy the whole season and give it a once over?