Saturday, February 26, 2011
When I first saw the promo for "The French Mistake" I thought "oh, that looks funny, kind of like Changing Channels" but after watching the episode I see a much different comparison. To me, "The French Mistake" seemed reminiscent of the season two episode "What Is and What Should Never Be" which finds us at the end of season two. Dean has spent the majority of the past year trying to protect Sam from his "destiny" as one of Azazel's chosen children and he's at the end of his rope. He's ready to give up on hunting altogether.
Dean: "Screw the job. Screw it, man. I'm sick of the job anyway. I mean, we don't get paid, we don't get thanked. Only thing we get's bad luck."
Sam spends the year dealing with John's warning to Dean, resisting Azazel and fighting his inner demons.
"The French Mistake" finds the boys in a similar position; Dean has spent the season trying to save Sam from himself and find a way to safely restore his soul. He has lost Lisa and Ben, the only fraction of a normal life he's ever had. He's at the end of his rope once again.
Dean: "All we do is make a mess"
Sam: "That's not true, we do save lives now and again."
Dean: "I guess, I'm just tired of all the bad luck, you know?
Sam has come back from his year of soullessness and is trying to reconcile his broken relationships while fighting to keep his memories at bay and "the great wall of Sam" intact.
At this point in WIAWSNB Dean finds himself in an alternate reality (which he comes to find is not reality at all) where he has everything he wants most. His mother is alive, Sam is happily engaged to Jessica and in law school and his dad died peacefully in his sleep. Dean has a girlfriend and a regular job as a mechanic. Sure, he and Sam don't get along but he can fix things with Sam. He's a civilian and he couldn't be more happy about it. In TFM Sam and Dean are sent to an alternate reality where they are actors in the television show about their lives. Sam is happily married to his former co-star and both boys have all the money they could possibly need. But there is one striking difference between these two episodes, Dean is alone in this alternate reality. There is no Ben or Lisa in this world, there isn't a mention of any family at all. He and Sam aren't even brothers and apparently they don't get along here either.
In reality, Sam and Dean are each others only family and they would do anything for the other. They have both sacrificed their lives to save each other and would do it again if they had to. So, it's odd to think that in both these alternate worlds this relationship doesn't exist. If they were never Winchesters then their mother never died and they never went hunting. Even if they were brothers as they were in WIAWSNB, if Mary doesn't die, their relationship never forms.
In WIAWSNB Dean wants to stay in his djinn-induced coma even when he finds out the truth. Sam is happy and his family is together so he's willing to sacrifice his existing relationship with Sam and work on a new one. In TFM Dean questions whether Sam should go back to the real world.
Sam: "No, we'll find a way back."
Dean: "You wouldn't be that broken up if we didn't."
Sam: "What? Don't be stupid."
Dean: Well, I'm just saying, no hell below us, above us only sky.
Sam: "Dean, our friends are back there."
Dean: Yeah, but here you got a pretty good life. I mean back home the hits have been coming since you were six months old. You gotta admit being a bazillionaire, married to Ruby, the whole package. It's no contest.
It seems like Dean is willing once again to make a sacrifice for Sam's happiness. But Sam isn't interested in staying in this world.
Sam: "You know, you were right. We just don't mean the same thing here. We're not even brothers here, man."
Sam and Dean have come a long way since season two but it seems as though they continue to struggle with a lot of the same issues. Sam struggles with who he is and who he was destined to be. He resits the evil that forces its way into his life and continues to try to right his wrongs and alter his destiny. Dean continues to sacrifice everything for his brother and the family business. He's still willing to settle for second best if it means that Sam gets a shot at a better life. Despite their constant battles one thing remains the same, family is the most important thing they have and they will fight to protect it.
There were a couple great moments in "The French Mistake" that I can't go without mentioning.
Dean had some really great lines.
* "I'm a painted whore"
* "Dude, we're not even in America."
* "Dude looks like a lady."
* The picture of Sam on horseback was priceless. I almost couldn't pay attention to the scene because I was so distracted by it.
* Eric Kripke getting gunned down Godfather-style.
Friday, February 25, 2011
If we learned anything from this week's episode "Regrets Only" it would be that if your spouse or significant other asks you to try a wedge salad, just do it. In fact, if they recommend any book, movie or food just read it, watch it and eat it. Otherwise you may end up with a kitchen full of wasted broccoli and a face full of fire fighting foam.
The best part about Phil and Claire's massive fight was that Phil had no idea what was going on. "Happy Valenbirthiversary". Phil is funny because he's so clueless. I actually find myself wondering how he landed Claire in the first place. He always says the wrong thing at the wrong time and can't seem to read the most obvious social ques. Even while re-hashing the events of the night before with Gloria he doesn't see his MANY mistakes; The microscopic message he left on the counter, the lunch date with his ex, the "air bunnies". This is enough to drive any woman mad. Even Gloria threatens death as he goes through the scenarios. Maybe he was just a little distracted by his super awkward, boobs-in-the-face haircut or maybe his cluelessness is really just part of his charm.
Of course we come to realize that this fight isn't really about a wedge salad. For Claire it's about whether or not her opinion matters to Phil. Cue the Phil charm. He uses an old picture of himself to show Claire the ways he's changed for the better since knowing her. I love the way Modern Family handles this "touchy feely" stuff. There's just enough charm to warm your heart but not so much that I'm tasting stomach acid.
I also enjoyed the Mitchell and Cam story in this episode. Poor Mitchell can't seem to keep his head above water. Granted, Cam is a bit high maintenance but that can't be a surprise. Regardless of his faults, Mitchell knew how important this event was to Cam and how he planned to use it as an opportunity to out-host his "arch-nemesis" Andrew. Nothing is funnier than watching Cam compete with one of his uppity frenemies for the spotlight. I could have watched a whole episode of Cam directing Luke around Devil-Wears-Prada-style. What's funny is that you'd think Cam would have asked Manny, the king of cashmere and etiquette, to serve as his assistant for such an important event. I would have loved to watch the two of them chat about chair placement, hors d'oeuvres, and music selection. Thankfully, in the end Mitchell uses a bit of his own charm to save Cam's charity fundraiser. Even if he has to fill the room with family members and college students.
Now, I think we learned one more lesson from this episode. Don't ever buy someone you live with a Karaoke machine. It's just not a good idea. You know what is a good idea? Watching Jay suffer the consequences of his lapse in judgement. Gloria's rendition of "Just Call Me Angel of the Morning" was so wonderfully painful to listen to. I honestly couldn't tell at first if she was singing in English or Spanish.
"Regrets Only" taught us a lot about how to avoid spousal disputes. Listening to your partner is key. Listen to your wife's suggestions and take them to heart. Listen to your partner when he asks you to do something for him. And most importantly listen to your wife's talking voice before you buy her a karaoke machine.
There are a few things that I can't go without mentioning.
*Claire's mall massage. Enough said.
*Phil to Gloria "You can do me." Really, Phil? Really?
*I was impressed with Haley's quick thinking. Too bad she doesn't put her skills to good use!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
After watching this week's episode of Traffic Light "All the Precedent's Men" I went back and watched the Pilot to get a feel for how the characters had developed. The chemistry between the cast is good from the first episode which is something that is not true of many shows. For me, it usually takes a couple of episodes to get a feel for the characters and their relationships but Traffic Light was seamless in the way it introduced itself. The characters are still a little more shallow than I'd like but I think that less detail in the first few episodes makes sense and smooths the transition. The show is only half an hour long so I appreciate not having tons of characters or plot threads shoved in my face in the first episode (*cough *cough Glee).
Traffic Light also has great balance representing three different phases of life. Mike has been married for six years and has one child, Adam is just moving in with his girlfriend in the pilot and Ethan is an eternal bachelor who probably loves his bulldog Carl more than any woman he's been with. And even though these men represent such different phases of life, their friendship makes sense because they each have something different to offer.
I'm excited to see these characters develop and hopefully learn a little more about their past. We know they went to college together and that at one point they had a fourth Chumbawamba-loving friend who has since passed away. I was a little unclear about the details of his passing and I hope that doesn't go unexplained. I am also looking forward to a little more development of the female characters; Mike's wife Lisa and Adam's girlfriend Callie. We're only three episodes in so I'm sure that's in the works.
At this point a lot of scenes take place in the car via speakerphone and three-way-calling. So far I Really like this aspect of the show. It has facilitated a few fun plot threads that wouldn't have worked in a more conventional setting, including "This is my say anything moment" which I found hilarious.
Traffic Light is an enjoyable comedy and and I'm excited to see where it goes so if you haven't checked it out, please do! It's on Fox Tuesday 9:30/8:30c
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
True confession time. I committed what I consider to be the ultimate sin in TV viewing. I peeked at the first paragraph of a review for this weeks episode before I even watched it. I know, it's bad. I swear I never do this. I just got so curious when I saw that Maureen Ryan's review was posted and I decided to take a glance. Well, I wasn't happy with what I saw. Now remember, I only read the first paragraph and I'll go back and read it in its entirety once I finish my own but the outlook was not good.
I like Mo Ryan because she's always on the money. She's the best kind of fan because she's willing to point out the things that Supernatural does wrong that I'd rather explain away. And try as I may, I can't ever really explain them. So all that being said, I went into the episode expecting Bugs 2. I don't think I've mentioned that I loathe the season 1 episode "Bugs" entirely. Thank goodness it wasn't the first episode I saw or I would not be writing this right now. So let's just say I was expecting to hate "Mannequin". After watching it I've decided it's really not that bad. By no means is it my favorite episode or even in the top 100 but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. It was just a filler episode.
The mannequins themselves were not my favorite monster of the week either. They just weren't that scary; This coming from a girl who jumps at her own shadow. I especially disliked the animation. It just looked low budget and a little cheesy for my taste. The story behind the haunting was a bit more interesting, but still had its problems. Rose, the vengeful spirit is punishing the boys who teased her. Seems like it could work but I don't think their joke was cruel enough to warrant a haunting. Now her sister Isabelle made it seem as though this wasn't a one time event for Rose. It seemed like she was the butt of a lot of jokes. The boys didn't kill her and never intended for her to get physically hurt but either way she's dead as a result of the practical joke, hence the haunting. It's a bit anti-climactic but I guess I can let that one go. (See me explaining things away?)The way she died on the other hand was uninspired. I'm no doctor but I really don't see how she died from that fall. It's a one in a million chance. Would it have been that much harder for her to fall down a flight of stairs? Or maybe the boys get rough with her and accidentally kill her? It just needed something to make it feel like the boys were at fault for more than being jackasses.
I also found the twist with Johnny's doll fetish a little odd. Why would he mock Rose with a mannequin secret admirer if he thinks it's possible to be in love with one? I know they needed to find a way to kill him once he thinks he's out of the water but there are plenty of other ways to do it. Maybe he's a Star Wars fan and he has a life-size C-3PO? That would have been better.
So what exactly happened to Rose and Isabelle? I realize Sam and Dean can't come to the rescue in every episode, and that's fine, but it would be nice to understand the outcome. We know Isabelle dies but how? Was it Rose's doing or was it a coincidence? How can Sam and Dean know that Rose is done murdering people? Did they salt and burn the body to be sure the got rid of the haunted kidney?
Was I the only one who was on montage overload after this episode? First there was the montage of Sam interviewing at the factory, then there was the montage of flashback images while Sam questioned Isabelle and then Dean got his own montage of Lisa and Ben moments. I love a good montage but 3 in one episode? Not to mention that the flashback sequence during Isabelle's questioning seemed unnecessary. All the images were from the episode, I don't have that bad of a memory and it isn't that difficult a story to follow. I also found that the music was a little odd this week. I don't know how to explain it but it sounded like the soundtrack for a 70's slasher movie. Did anyone else get that vibe?
Perhaps the redeeming quality of this episode was the Dean, Lisa and Ben story. I have been hoping to see Lisa again, I really like her and I like Dean with her. But I was more than a little surprised to find that Dean had been "Parent Trapped" by Ben. And I was also shocked to find that Lisa is dating someone else. Apparently, so was Dean. It was heartbreaking to watch his realization. Dean knows that he can't continue to be a hunter and also be a part of their family. And Lisa made it painfully clear in "You Can't Handle the Truth" that she feels the same way. So why is she mad at Dean for not calling her back? That didn't seem fair. It was unclear to me what she wanted from Dean.
Lisa: ‘I’m not asking for anything.’
Dean: ‘Then ask for something!’
Lisa: ‘I can’t ask for something. I know what I want, but I can’t have it, not how you live. My phone rings I think - tiny chance it’s you, big chance it’s Sam calling me to tell me you’re dead.’
Ben on the other hand made it very clear what he wanted from Dean. He wanted him to come home so they can be a family. It was very hard to watch Dean reject the thing he wants most in the world and Ben didn't make it any easier by accusing Dean of abandoning his family. But Dean knows that besides Sam, family is not an option.
Dean: ‘Just ‘cause you love someone, doesn’t mean you should stay around and screw up their life. So, I can’t be here.’
Ben:‘ You think something will follow you home?’
Dean: ‘No, no, I don’t, but I think my job turns me into somebody that can’t sit at your dinner table and if I stayed you’d end up just like me.’
Life for the Winchester's is miserable. This is no new realization for me but I can't help but feel heartbroken for them anyway. Sam can't seem to escape the evil inside of him and he can't forgive himself for the things he's done, but if he keeps remembering them he'll die. Dean can't protect his brother from everything but he won't stop trying. He takes on responsibility for things he shouldn't have to and because of this he has to push away what he wants most. Tough life.
There were a couple of moments in "Mannequin" that I'd like to mention.
*Sam: "What's a Snooki?"
Dean: "Good question"
This was just hilarious.
*Sam: "I got your back"
Dean: "I know"
What a transformation from earlier this season in "Live Free of Twihard" when Sam claims to have Dean's back but Dean knows better. It was great to see Dean so happy knowing that his brother is back.
Here's the promo for next week's episode "The French Mistake". Looks like it's going to be a good one!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
This weeks guest stars included Matt Dillon (Claire's high school boyfriend turned Beiber-hair-toting limo driver) and Shelly Long (Claire's passive-aggressive, never satisfied mother). As far as these characters go, it's nothing we haven't seen before, but for some reason it worked. They blended in with the cast seamlessly and offered just the right amount of quirk. Just the fact that DeDe would think it was
appropriate to bring Claire's high school boyfriend over for dinner gave a good indication of what kinds of squeamish Claire moments we could expect. And there were plenty. But I have to say I didn't see the Stacy's Mom twist coming until Dillon's character forgot his keys. I actually yelled to Claire, "no, no, NO!" but she looked anyway. Talk about scarred for life.
The Jay and Gloria story line about recording the book was priceless. When Jay shares the flashback of the answering machine debacle I couldn't stop laughing. Especially at Gloria's exaggerated "beeeeeeeeeeep". Ed O'Neil and Sofia Vergara have great comedic chemistry and their story lines never disappoint. And the book they end up recording for Lilly is definitely a keeper. Nothing like the sound of Jay asking Manny to freshen up his drink to lull your toddler to sleep.
My only complaint would be that the kids weren't the center of any of the story lines. And maybe it's not a complaint so much as something I just noticed. Manny did have his cashmere-loving moments. I also never get over how delicately he sips his tea with his pinky finger in the air. Then there was Luke's attempt to calm Claire down with his cutesy "pasghetti" pronunciation.
*I also have to mention Cam quizzing the princess. "Never break character!"
*Gloria on Xanax
*Why does everyone smell like cheese?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This week's episode of Supernatural, "Unforgiven", gave us a much needed look into Sam's Soulless year. I'm hoping it was the first of many glimpses into his dark past. We already knew that Sam wasn't himself without his soul, we saw his coldness from the first episode of the season. But I really appreciated seeing exactly what soulless Sam was capable of. It made the contrast between the two Sam's much more palpable. Not to mention it really highlighted just how versatile Jared Padalecki's acting has been this season.
Grandpa Samuel said it best when he told Sam "You're about as cold as they come". But I can't help but wonder why Samuel continued to hunt side by side with him. He seems more than capable of hunting on his own, so what was his reasoning? Not to mention, how did they even find each other? There had to be some outsider intervention that put the two of them in contact. Sam would never know to look for Samuel and Samuel may or may not have thought to look for a Winchester, but if he had I would guess he'd find Dean first seeing that he was a civilian living and working as Dean Winchester. At any rate, I hope we find out how they came in contact with each other because at this point it's a bit of a plot hole for me.
While I'm on the topic of things I hope to find out I'd like to ask another question. Who brought Sam and Samuel back? Two different people, one person? I assumed Crowley had brought Samuel back but if Samuel was snatched from Heaven that seems unlikely. And why Samuel? He's been dead for so long. If someone wanted him back wouldn't they have done it a long time ago? Why Sam is an easier question, he is obviously at the center of some cosmic something that he can't escape. No matter how good Sam tries to be he always ends up a little darker than before.
OK, on to more episode-specific discussion. Overall I really liked the pace and editing of the episode. I enjoyed the classic black and white flashbacks and I thought they were nicely organized to give away just the right amount of information so that we were right in line with Sam during his rediscovery of the past. The one thing I found a little distracting was the jarring camera work, especially during the scene when Sam beats the cop. Maybe it was an attempt to put us inside the chaos of Sam's brain, but I found that it overwhelmed the scene. There were also a lot of extreme close-ups, especially in the flashback scenes. I love a good extreme close-up but I'm not sure they were always necessary. Again, I'm sure there was an intended meaning behind these choices but to me, the just felt odd.
Poor Sam. His conscience has always been his greatest enemy. He just can't leave well enough alone. He has to keep picking at that wall until he knows everything. He needs to know what he did wrong so he can make it right. The problem is that not everyone is going to forgive him. We saw it in "Like a Virgin" when Bobby couldn't even look him in the eye and we saw it again this week when Brenna slammed the door in his face. How is he going to deal with that? The Sam we know and love would be torn apart from guilt. And that can't be good for the "The Great Wall of Sam". Speaking of which throughout the episode all I could think was stop scratching! I even tried to trend #StopScratching on twitter. Totally unsuccessful but I thought it was funny.
There is one plot point that really bugged me (no pun intended) and maybe someone can straighten me out about it. When Sam breaks into Brenna's house looking for the case file he has a flashback to when he and Samuel discovered that they were dealing with an arachne. In the flashback, Samuel is holding what looks like a piece of web. Sam leaves Brenna's house immediately after this flashback. When he goes out on to her porch it's clear that his "spidey senses" are tingling. And we see that he is being watched. He notices the same web on Brenna's front porch and then....he leaves? It is obvious that Brenna is in danger and it's as if Sam completely forgets what he just saw.
There were a few funny moments in "Unforgiven" that deserve mentioning.
*The oh-so-subtle nod to Days of Our Lives, was that for Jensen Ackles?
*The use of the word squirly
*When Dean attributes Samuel's absence to sex therapy. Now that's just funny.
*One thing that wasn't funny so much as it was touching was watching Samuel talk about Mary during the flashback. It's clear that he really loved her and it made him seem just a little less awful for selling out his grandsons to get her back. Only a little though.
Check out the preview for this week's episode "Mannequin 3: The Reckoning"
Sunday, February 13, 2011
The LOOOOOONG wait is over. Finally. The boys are back and everyone is alive and re-souled (?). Hallelujah! Dean and Death made a deal and everything is perfect, right? Ok, so I know this re-souling isn't going to come without a price but for now, can we just pretend? At least until the end of this paragraph. It was so nice to see Sam so peaceful since we haven't seen him rest this whole season. I was a little worried that he was going to sleep through the whole episode. In fact, I kind of expected him to wake up right at the end when we'd lost all hope. I'm glad that wasn't the case though because I really liked the flow of this episode. I loved having Sam back. And was I the only one who felt like I was looking at Season 2 Sam? He had that fresh-faced Sammy innocence that has been M.I.A. since the middle of season 2. Not that I haven't enjoyed the depth and darkness of Sam's character, because I have. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Emo-Sam from time to time. But, I digress. On to the episode.
As I have said before, I'm spoiler-phobic so I really didn't know what "Like a Virgin" was going to be about. I only knew what the promo told us; "Virgins, Sam. Virgins". If you had told me I'd come back from a nearly two month hiatus to an episode about dragons, I probably would have been...shocked? Confused? I honestly don't know, I really haven't spent much time thinking about dragons. That being said, I was pleased with the way Supernatural handled them. I was happy that they were able to take on human form. The thought of Sam and Dean slaying a scaly over-sized reptile is a little too much for me to handle.
Once I knew we were dealing with dragons I didn't really know what to expect. Like I said, I haven't spent much time thinking about dragons. So, needless to say I didn't realize they had a taste for virgins. And the sword in the stone had slipped my mind completely. The scene that followed was a hilarious reminder. Watching Dean struggle with the sword while Dr. Visyak tried to hold back her smirk was wonderful. It's no secret that Jensen Ackles has great comedic timing and it was perfectly showcased in this scene. My favorite moment of the episode by far was Dean's defeat in the battle of man vs. rock. "Son of a bitch, that's really on there!". While we're still on the topic of Dr. Visyak, I'd like a little back story on her relationship with Bobby. There is definitely some bad blood there.
There were a lot of really funny lines in "Like a Virgin" But there was also some very crucial information given in this episode. These dragon's aren't back after 700 years for no reason, they have a very specific purpose; open the door to purgatory and let something out. "Mother of all" as they're calling her, creator of all things that go bump in the night. Who knew there was a big bad worse than Lucifer? We don't know her plans yet but we know it's not going to be good. Still I can't help but wonder how these dragons came back from a 700 year extinction. I know we've heard theories from Bobby and the boys that it's got something to do with the botched apocalypse but I'd really like to see the show get more specific about why all the bad guys were so affected by it. What is it about the failed apocalypse that causes these changes? Is it a total shift in world order? Then why are the monsters the only ones affected? I need more information! I know I should probably just be patient, I'm sure what I'm looking for will start to come out in the next few episodes.
I was surprised by a few things in this episode. Bobby's cold reaction toward Sam was a bit unsettling to me. On the one hand I understand where Bobby is coming from, Sam did just try to kill him a few days before. But Bobby should know better than anyone that that wasn't Sam. To me, soulless Sam should be no different than the possessed Sam we saw in season 2. In both cases it was Sam, and it wasn't, but they drew on Sam's memories and oppressed emotions. So why is this so much harder for Bobby to deal with? Is it possible that he doesn't believe Sam is really back to his old self? Is he just uncomfortable with the deal with Death because that wouldn't surprise me. Deals have never produced positive results for the Winchesters. Either way, I'll be interested to see Sam and Bobby's interactions in future episodes.
Another thing that surprised me was Sam's reaction after Cas spilled the beans about his year without a soul. I expected and big argument between the brothers. That is a major lie on Dean's part and a huge violation of Sam's trust. I understand why Dean did what he did but Sam had a right to be upset. So why wasn't he? Was he just so wracked with guilt that he didn't feel like he deserved to be angry? Even Bobby warned Dean that when Sam found out, it wasn't going to be pretty. Maybe the anger will come later when Sam inevitably starts to scratch at that wall. As much as we don't want him to, he will because his soul won't let him forget what he's done. And that is Sam's constant battle, constantly trying to right the wrongs in his life.
On the lighter side, I had a few quotes I really enjoyed in this episode, besides the aforementioned sword in the stone scene.
I loved Bobby's shout out to Hogwarts. Love me some Harry Potter.
Sam: Who likes virgins and gold?
Dean: P. Diddy?
How many different ways can Dean use the term "hymenated"? Hilarious.