Supernatural: “Remember the Titans” (Season 8 Episode 16)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb. 27th, 2013

Supernatural continues to lose momentum thanks to the awful episode from the previous week and this week’s lame episode. It was boring, made no sense (they introduced Greek mythology and then threw it out the window) and I could really have cared less about the characters. I would have actually liked the episode if it had stuck to the traditional mythology, or if the dead guy had actually been a zombie, which is where Dean was leaning. This show could really do a walking dead plot really well, something they’ve never really done – well, not zombie/infectious disease/end of the world as we traditionally know it. I found myself wishing for the original story line to continue, and that’s not a good thing. I’m hoping the next episode gets them back on track…

Supernatural: “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” (Season 8 Episode 15)

spBroadcast date:  Thursday, Feb. 20th, 2013

It seems that no subject is taboo for Supernatural’s writers. This episode isn’t even worth reviewing. It literally made me cringe. Why the writers thought it was a good idea to introduce beastiality, in the guise of a “familiar” of a witch, I have no idea. The premise of the story wasn’t that bad: one witch coveting another’s familiar. It was the sexual relationship between the familiar and the witch that was uncalled for. I’m going to go scrub this episode out of my head with a liberal dose of Person of Interest and Castle…

Supernatural: “Trial and Error” (Season 8 Episode 14)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013

Supernatural returns to the Demons and Angels story line, which is disappointing, but it’s also handled surprisingly well. After spending some time in the bunker setting up their rooms (“I have memory foam!”) and cooking up burgers (must taste good after years of fast food), the boys get a call from Kevin, who has cracked the tablet and figured out how to close the gates of Hell. When they visit Kevin, he has just recovered from a mini-stroke, either from lack of sleep and caffeine, or all those hot dogs he’s eating (gross!). He states that one person must undergo 3 epic trials to close the gates, the first of which is killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. There’s an interesting aspect here that the writers have chosen to explore: Sam is concerned about how hard Kevin has pushed himself and shows compassion; Dean, not so much. It highlights the difference between the two, which is expounded upon later in the episode.

The easiest way to find a hell hound, they reason, is to look for someone who made a crossroads deal 10 years ago to the day. They find a family that struck it rich by finding oil where none was known to exist. After meeting up with Ellie, the groundskeeper, the brothers talk their way into hiring on as farmhands. Confusion soon ensues, as multiple people are taken by the hound. It seems that Crowley stopped by that night and made multiple deals. Not knowing who to protect, they quarantine everyone. This is where the worst of Supernatural comes into play – Dean’s whiny, angst-ridden bitchiness. We get to hear a speech about how Dean should be the one to undergo the trials, because the one who does probably won’t survive. Dean explains that Sam should be the one who lives, and he’s arrived at the conclusion for two reasons: He saw how easy it was for Sam to slip into a domestic life, and the whole men of letters thing – not only is Sam better at the research stuff, he also needs to carry on the bloodline. But we just know Sam’s going to screw up Dean’s plan, don’t we?

One other thing I’d like to mention is that dating all the way back to season 1, Supernatural has had the best special effects and CGI on tv. It isn’t even close. Watch a show like Once Upon a Time or Warehouse 13 to see how bad CGI can look. Supernatural has always been top notch. This episode is no exception, from the appearance of the hounds to Dean’s features going all ghostface thanks to the effects of the hounds.

When the battle with the hound takes place, turns out Sam is the one who will have to undergo the trials, much to Dean’s dismay and no one’s great surprise. Now that Supernatural has been renewed for another season, who knows what will happen since this season has already been written and filmed. But even if someone dies, that’s okay, because Supernatural always has a Deus Ex Machina up its sleeve to bring the boys back…

Supernatural: “Everybody Hates Hitler” (Season 8 Episode 13)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2013

The two-episode arc featuring Grandpa Winchester, the Men of Letters, Nazi Necromancers, and golems is done, and it’s back to Angels and Demons next week. That’s a real shame, because Everybody Hates Hitler was one of the best Supernatural episodes since Season 1. The opening scene has some monstrous guy beating the tar out of Nazis, leaving us wondering what the heck is going on here? Fast forward to current day. Following the clues left from John Winchester, Sam and Dean find the bunker, which is filled with all kinds of things they haven’t tapped yet. It’s nice to see the boys in something other than a seedy motel for once. But before they can explore the bat cave, they find a job: a rabbi spontaneously combusts after finding a journal. When the rabbi’s grandson shows up with a golem (a creature made from clay that gave the Nazis a butt-kicking), the hunt is on to recover the journal and figure out what it means. At the same time, no one knows how exactly to control the golem, who has an attitude problem and likes to break things. This sets up a showdown with the Nazi necromancers, a secret society referred to as the Thule.

There are many things to like about this episode. Dean and the rabbi’s son “having a moment”; Sam warming his hands over the flames of a burning Nazi (hey, it was cold that night!), Dean back to wisecracking, the awesomeness of the bunker/batcave, and the introduction of the new character Aaron as well as his golem. The golem is a great character, huge and intimidating (played by John DeSantis of Ghostfacers). Plus, who doesn’t like the idea of Nazi necromancers running around in current day? Unfortunately, there are also a few plot holes. Why is the golem not with Aaron’s grandfather when the Nazis show up, because it was all the same day…grandfather rabbi (played wonderfully but briefly by Hal Linden) wouldn’t have known to send the golem away because he hadn’t found anything yet. Also, how did the Nazis know to watch the rabbi? Why didn’t they just go looking for the journal themselves? That’s some seriously bad writing.

However, I can ignore some of the plot holes, because it’s a great story line and breathes some much-needed fresh air into the series. Here’s to hoping the writers and producers will read the thousands of comments from fans on fan sites, and that this is the highest rated Supernatural episode on since last season, because I think that moving away from angels and demons, and towards the two secret societies, diametrically opposed, would be pretty dang awesome…

Supernatural: “As Time Goes By” (Season 8 Episode 12)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Jan. 30th, 2013

Supernatural is on a bit of a roll this season. Although it still suffers from time to time due to the angels vs. demons story line (which I have mentioned ad nauseam), it’s the intervening episodes that have been the best. This week, thanks to a time travel spell, Sam and Dean meet their grandfather. They’ve met their family on their mother’s side, but their father’s side has been a bit of a mystery, until now. It turns out that grandpa up and disappeared when their father was just a young boy. Turns out he traveled through a portal to current day, thanks to a nasty Knight of Hell named Abbaddon who follows through the portal, seeking a key which Grandpa Winchester holds. Not just any key, but one that opens a bunker full of really cool and powerful stuff, apparently.

Sam and Dean also learn that John Winchester belongs to the “Men of Letters”, part of a Freemason-like secret society whose goal is to keep evil at bay. Their father, as well as Sam and Dean, should have become trained in it but Grandpa John’s disappearance spoiled that. It’s really kind of a cool premise, and I like the direction the story line is taking – this is far more entertaining. It’s pretty much a given that John is not going to make it back to his time and change the future, and so his fate (and that of the mysterious key) is somewhat predictable. Along the way there are some great elements, like carving a demon trap on the head of a bullet. A very entertaining episode with what looks to be an excellent story line…

Supernatural: “LARP and the Real Girl” (Season 8 Episode 11)

spBroadcast date: Wednesday, Jan. 23rd

This was probably one of the funniest episodes I’ve ever seen of Supernatural. Sam and Dean investigate when some Dungeons and Dragons LARPers start turning up dead. They connect a symbol that turns up on the dead bodies to the Tree of Death, a curse. Charlie Bradbury returns, who helped the boys beat some heavy hitters in the past. It turns out someone got themselves a real book of spells on eBay and takes the game a little too seriously. There’s a cool moment where Charlie runs into a robed figure wearing a deer skull, and the look achieved is genuinely ominous. The best part of the episode however, is how Dean interacts with the LARP players. It’s one great thing that I have mentioned about the show – every so often it pokes fun at itself. Someone who takes the show seriously will be disappointed, but someone who can appreciate a change of pace and a good laugh will enjoy it. Despite some negative reviews I’ve seen, I loved the episode.

Supernatural: “Torn and Frayed” (Season 8, Episode 10)

spBroadcast date: Wednesday, Jan. 16th, 2013

I’ve been following Supernatural since episode 2 of season 1 (I missed the first episode but caught it later on DVD). The show has had its ups and downs; when it’s a weekly serial about hunting monsters and ghosts, it’s top-notch; when it’s caught in the several-season arc about the battle between Angels and Demons, it’s not quite as good. It’s a series that has a mix of action, suspense, goofiness, drama-heavy moments, and of course the supernatural, and it is not afraid to take a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek jab at itself from time to time. The two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles of Dark Angel), have lost everyone close to them, but still they continue to hunt monsters and demons. Why? Beacuse they are good at it, and it’s the only life they know.

In this season, the older brother, Dean, escaped Purgatory (where he ended up after taking on Leviathans last season) with the help of angel Castiel (a regular on the show for several seasons) and Benny, a vampire. While Castiel struggles with his mind, which we are finding out has been altered in some way, Benny is starting to slip back into his own ways. Meanwhile Sam spent a year on his own without Dean and got himself a woman, only to find out that her husband, who was thought to have been killed in Afghanistan, is still alive, and Sam must depart. The reunion of Sam and Dean was less than happy, as Dean was upset that Sam quit hunting, while Sam is not thrilled that Dean’s new best buddy is a vampire. Although Sam should be grateful that the vampire helped Dean escape, the underlying bad blood goes back a couple seasons, when Dean killed a Kitsu named Amy that Sam used to love. Sam doesn’t understand why Dean killed Amy but allows Benny to live, and it’s driven a wedge between them.

This episode focusses on the angels vs. demons arc instead of a weekly serial hunt. Castiel (Misha Collins) enlists Sam and Dean’s help to track down an angel who has been captured by Crowley (the current ruler of Hell, played wonderfully for several seasons by Mark Sheppard of Leverage). But Castiel is broken – an angel in Heaven (Amanda Tapping from Stargate and Sanctuary fame) has been messing with his mind, so it’s up to the brothers to take the lead. Meanwhile, Benny calls Dean for help, as he can no longer control his hunger for blood, but Dean’s up to his neck in demons and can’t help. Meanwhile, Sam’s gal Amelia returns while her husband is out of town, and Sam must decide to quit the business or leave Amelia for good. While a transitional episode – Sam and Dean must make decisions on their relationships – there’s still plenty of demon-fighting, and there’s a cool sequence where Sam and Dean move through an abandoned warehouse “tagging” demonic symbols that prevent Castiel from entering. The big reveal (revealed by an angel that does a lot of annoying screaming under Crowley’s torture) is that there is an angel tablet, a stone artifact that when activated, allows Heaven to be sealed up and prevents angels from coming to Earth. Though the angels vs. demons arc is tiring…the Leviathan arc was better last season, and Benny has been a great addition this season (but is barely in this episode)…at least the relationship questions get wrapped up (for now) and we can move that part of the story forward. However, we know that at some point, when Benny starts killing again, Dean is going to have to face him down. There’s a very poignant moment at the end where Sam and Amelia agree to meet in two days, and whoever shows up will know what the other person has decided. Only one person shows up at the rendezvous, and it’s a sad scene. It’s the cap to a fair episode – not great, but not terrible either.