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Winchester Gospels

Supernatural ep review - Exile on Main Street (6.01)

Posted on 2010.09.26 at 17:25
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Tags: , , ,
I've been meaning for ages to get into writing ep reviews for Supernatural, and the beginning of a new season seems like an excellent opportunity to make a start, so here's one for the FIRST EPISODE OF SEASON SIX! Finally, it's back!

(I was left with mixed feelings after the first viewing, and feeling a bit unsettled, but I didn't dislike it and there were a lot of aspects that I really loved. Not least DEEEEEAAAAANNN!)

Exile on Main Street

‘One Year Ago’. OK, I stayed pretty unspoiled, but I did know there was a time jump, and I’m OK with that – as long as they were going to give us some exposition on how Dean got on in the meantime, which they did so all good. I liked what they did there – the montage was reminiscent of the one at the beginning of 5.03, and is an effective method of telling a lot of story in a short time, so I was happy to see that reused as a device.

Dean seems settled, and genuinely engaged with his new life, but not happy – the nightmares and (to an extent) the drinking tell their own story (although if having a drink before bed is a sign of deep misery, I’m totally screwed!) The only moment he looked remotely happy was when working on the car with Ben.

One detail I really liked was his job. It’s an absolute given in fandom that, if Dean settled down, he’d be a mechanic – but his skills base translated beautifully (if rather gruesomely) into the job he has chosen. Clever, that.

(Also, Jensen in sweats. *takes a moment*)

And all this before the titles. Excellent. And I loved the holy water and rock salt gun under the bed. Can’t be too careful, eh, Dean?

New titles – hmm OK. Remind me a bit of a Mario Bros game, but I’m sure all will become clear.

Dean’s got a pal. I’m not totally convinced by his pal, but that’s neither here nor there. (I was kind of hoping, when the poisoning part of the storyline was brought up later, that Pal might be the baddie responsible – but it was not to be, sadly). Pal shows an understandable curiosity about Dean’s background – seems a little strange to suddenly get curious after a year, you’d have thought the ‘what do you do’ stuff would have been covered earlier, but that’s exposition for you. Anyway, Dean’s good at dissembling, it seems, sticking close enough to the truth to make the story sound credible. ‘Pest Control’ – nice touch, and his description is fun.

Bar girl (Birgitta?) leaves her number, and Dean has a good looooooooong look, but declares himself officially unavailable. Seems to think this is why women are so interested in him. Yeah, that’s totally it *eye roll*. He rather implied that he might have played the ‘I’m taken’ card before if he’d realised, which made me wonder if he really was seeing as much action as he was given credit for when he was on the road with Sam. I suppose the Apocalypse left less time for carousing than he might have liked.

So off they go out into the night, and Dean heads for a truck which is NOTICEABLY NOT THE IMPALA. But does have a very handily placed gun. Hearing a never-to-be-explained scream (I guess the ‘hallucination’ aspect is covering any plot carelessness at the moment, which is irritating because I reserve the right to nit-pick, goddammit!) he immediately changes from mild-mannered Dean the civilian into badass Dean-fucking-Winchester, and sets off to save the day.

Now I’m all for extended periods of watching Dean with torches, guns, wide eyes and that delicious look of alertness that he reserves for creeping up on spooky things. Seriously, all for it. But I did get a bit bored of the sequence of suspicious noises, ripping back plastic sheeting, sudden musical stabs for proper horror effect etc. (I realise this is a purely personal response from someone who doesn’t watch horror movies for exactly that reason – while they’re supposedly ratcheting up the tension, I’m like ‘OK! I get it. Now PLEASE can something interesting happen?’)

So he finds a pigeon, which is nice. Which might have been the point at which I (a fictional I who would even have considered going into the spooky building and not just, say, calling the police upon hearing the scream) decided to call it a night – but not badass Dean. No, he keeps going, scrummy alert look firmly in place, till he finds the gouges and blood on the wall. And that’s apparently when he decides to give up the chase. Is this a) a sign that he has developed a sense of self-preservation, realises his ordinary gun may not be up to the task at hand and retreats for further investigation at a safe distance; b) another slightly odd manifestation of the hallucination he is currently caught up in; or c) dodgy editing? Heaven forfend it could possibly be c.

So suddenly Dean’s back at home, showing he can still access pretty much anything he wants on the Internet and still pretends to be a cop. When in comes Lisa, who has clearly been asleep for a bit already, and tells us it’s 11:30. Which, I’m like, ‘Your point?’ But no, apparently 11:30 is Very Late Indeed, and Sid (who is Pal) would have been asleep already. So what time did they leave the bar? A pretty tame night out. Incidentally, that’s a really nice look of what appears to be genuine affection on Dean’s face as he watches Lisa go.

Devil’s Trap, yo. You can take the hunter out of the life etc.

It’s next morning, and Dean is driving NOT THE IMPALA again when he spots some more of those nasty scratch things. This time, apparently, his ordinary gun is OK for the job (and thank you, I have a bit of a thing for the gun down the back of the pants, nestling all comfortably between...anyway). He sees more gouges on the shed, and that lovely alert look is back. (If I may indulge in a moment’s shallow, I must point out that Dean is looking FINE this episode). Turns out it’s a dog, and I’m like ‘Shoot it anyway!’ because those little yappy nasty terrier things give me the proper creeps. Nice call back to Yellow Fever, also. I wonder if it’s actually the same dog.

And Pal is running by (I think Pal and Sid are the same. Am I right? Man in the bar is the same as pretend poker-game-setting-up man on the phone, who is the same as the man who Dean can see in his house from his own window (so why do they not share a car to get home from the bar?) who is the same as man who is now running past? Or not?) Anyway, Sid is all ‘OMGFG you shoot ickle doggies???’ and Dean is ‘Heh no, I shoot possums because they’re eeeeevilllll’ and Sid is like ‘Oh I did not know that.’ And this awkward sitcom moment is (thankfully) blown out of existence by the sudden discovery of yellow powder, which Dean helpfully exposits is ‘Sulphur’ (anyone else take a drink when he said that?) for anyone out there who might still be under the apprehension that it’s turmeric. Or saffron.

Dean reacts in the only appropriate way and immediately runs to find THE IMPALA!!! At last, there she is, gleaming as only she can, with all the supernatural-fighting bits and bobs still intact in the trunk. This is a happy thing.

Another happy thing is the scene with Lisa that follows. The dynamic is adorable, and the affection between them is palpable. Yes, he’s lying to her, but not entirely, and most of the time he makes it clear that she knows he’s lying – there’s no disrespect there. And of course she knows his past, but I love that it’s not a taboo subject, and I love even more that this doesn’t seem like the first time that he’s thought something supernatural was going on, and tried to hunt it, and that Lisa knows about it.

So Lisa and Ben are safely removed from harm’s way, and off they go, and in comes....

....YELLOW EYES! This is brilliant! Fred’s back! I had no idea this was going to happen, so free from spoilers have I been, and I didn’t even spot his name in the opening credits (I’ve trained myself not to look at them). And oh my God, Dean’s absolutely terrified, and dragging up his game face, not remotely successfully, and I am. Melting. Into a puddle of goo. Dean shoots him, but that’s no good because of the whole hallucination thing (not to mention that shooting demons with rock salt isn’t going to do much more than smart a bit) and Yellow Eyes decides to let Dean in on a few home truths. While killing him. And that’s actual drool there towards the end, and HOW IS IT FAIR THAT JENSEN ACKLES CAN STILL LOOK SEXY WHILE DROOLING? But hurrah, in the nick of time Sammy shows up and pumps him full of sticky white...sorry, injects him with some sort of antidote.

Dean wakes up on a camp bed somewhere (lovely close-up, and definitive proof for those who still say they can’t see the freckles) and sees sideways!Sammy watching him. And he’s completely dumbstruck, totally incapable of anything but staring, and Sam’s like ‘hug me or kill me, but don’t just sit there’. Dean’s reaction is heart-rending, another in a long line of instances of Ackles ripping your soul in two while barely moving a muscle. Perfect. Sam, on the other hand...

Right, I have issues here. And please not to be hating, because I have no problem with what Show has done, or with Jared’s performance. Especially Jared. But – something is up with Sam. It has to be. Yes, he’s been through Hell, yes, he’s spent a year away from Dean through his own choice, but he doesn’t look any more than mildly happy to see his brother again, which just doesn’t fit with how things were left between them. More and more, from this point on, I was reminded of the broken dynamic between them in What Is and What Should Never Be. And they’ve been through so much worse in terms of fallings out and separations, but they’ve never been indifferent to each other. Never. So, for now, I’m going to assume that there’s something about Sam that we haven’t been told yet. For what it’s worth, I don’t think he’s either Lucifer or demonically possessed.

Anyway, Sam proves absolutely nothing by cutting himself with a knife that may or may not be silver. The holy water and salt thing is more convincing, and there is a glimpse of Sam in the cheerfully disgusted reaction after he drinks. After which there is hugging (yay!) and Sam gives this little nod which could mean just about anything, before explaining that he has no idea how he’s back, Cas isn’t answering his prayers (that line struck me as odd too, come to think – maybe it’s just that we’ve never seen Sam do that) and that he woke up in ‘that field’ which I assume means Stull Cemetery. And then the real kick in the head for Dean – this all happened nearly a year ago.

Sam’s reasoning for not contacting Dean does, to be fair, seem completely valid. Although probably wrong and definitely patronising. In fact, I got more and more pissed off with the patronising attitude shown towards Dean during the rest of this ep, especially by the Campbells. Who are just about to be introduced, and I have to say I wish they hadn’t brought Samuel back, because I really liked him before. You know, when he was a grumpy irascible hunter instead of this caring, ‘Take a moment, Dean, I understand your pain’ type.

I recognised the girl instantly, but I totally can’t place what from. Not keen on the character though – ‘delicate features for a hunter’? Seriously? I always feel bad when I don’t like female characters, but it’s not something I make a habit of. But this one, nope. If it helps, I don’t like one of the men either. I think it’s Mark.

And then there’s Samuel, who’s co-ordinating all this, and who apparently has been brought in by whoever brought Sam back (Castiel? Is that you, by chance?). He wanted Dean involved, but Sammy, he say no. Until a few days ago, when Sam went down with Djinn poisoning, and Samuel made it all better with his sticky white antidote. Apparently the Djinn are after Dean in retribution for his nasty killing of one of them. I’m struggling to understand why they went after Sam first. Dean’s just struggling to keep up.

(Predictable enough that Dean’s worst nightmare would be the demons coming to destroy his new life and family. Delightful that his worst nightmare also features terriers and pigeons. *stops to snuggle Dean in passing*)

The first clear thought that permeates the fog of ‘bzuh?’ that is Dean’s life at the moment is that Lisa and Ben are in danger. Note how completely unimpressed he is by Samuel’s assurances that they have that angle covered. And how right he is. The dead guy in the car is presumably their security guard – no explanation of who he is, or how he fits into the tight-knit and secret band of hunting family. Another cousin?

But no sign of Lisa, because panicking!Dean has completely forgotten that he sent her off to the movies with Ben. When she does turn up, he practically kills her with his Powerful Manly Hug of Doom. That’ll be the same one he used on dream!Jessica – yet another shout out to WIaWSNB. Then Sammy shows up, and Lisa recognises him and is shocked but cool. I’m starting to really really like Lisa. But whatever, they can’t stay there, so it’s bags packed and off to....

....BOBBY’S!!! I would say yay, but I’m very pissed off with Bobby. I can’t stress this enough – I simply Do. Not. Believe. For a second that Sam could have talked Bobby into not telling Dean for a whole year. Bobby knows what Sam means to Dean, more than Sam does, and while I can see him being on board with the ‘Let Dean have a proper home for once’ part of the argument, he would never be convinced that Dean could be whole or happy without Sam. And he’d know that, sooner or later, it would come out. It just – no.

Which is pretty much what Dean says as he rips Bobby a new one, and Bobby, while putting up a spirited defence, at least has the grace to look ashamed. And Dean looks so betrayed when he looks at Bobby, but the worst part is when he looks at Sam, opens his mouth to say – something, and realises there’s just no point. You know what it reminds me of? *casts mind back to dating days* When someone breaks up with you, and you try and argue or persuade them to give it another go, whatever, and at a certain point it strikes you that this is pointless because they don’t want to be with you, which is why they broke up with you, so your arguments are invalid. So you give up, cry, eat ice cream and move on. I would guess that this is the moment where Dean makes the subconscious decision to stay with Lisa.

A decision that becomes conscious partway through the truly lovely conversation with Lisa on the stairs. Dean is completely resigned to accusations and recriminations – instead she offers him validation, acceptance and love. Without in any sense giving the impression of being a doormat. Lisa is awesome. (And I never thought I’d say that!)

And off go Sam and Dean in NOT THE IMPALA. See, Sam’s car’s pretty enough, but has no soul. Hmm.

Campbells are clueless without Dean. Also, it’s Christian I don’t like, Mark’s OK. And it’s great to see Dean’s snarky response to ‘Leave it to the professionals’. Time was, he’d have reacted angrily to a slur like that. Now, he just calmly makes the other bloke look a total idiot. Nice one!

So it’s all back round to Dean’s for a spot of Dean-baiting. Even Sam seems to have adopted this as a new game. Again, this doesn’t sit right – that whole ‘Seriously? Golf?’ thing would work great as banter if it were just the two of them. But for Sam to watch the others making fun of him and then join in on their side is deeply uncharacteristic. Not to mention downright nasty. At least Samuel does him the courtesy of explaining what the hell’s going on – as far as he can, anyway. But I’m not sure he’ll get far pulling the ‘family’ card on Dean – he’s had to get used to a much bigger idea of destiny, has been told his ancestry goes back to Cain and Abel (hmm), and I doubt he’s going to be all that awed by who was doing what to whom on the Mayflower.

Dean does a spot of tentative bonding with Mark, and spots a Djinn or three in lurk mode. Which is his cue to turf out the extraneous family members, which makes me like the Djinn more than I might otherwise have expected to. So it’s finally just Sam and Dean, but it’s, well, awkward. Stilted. And Sam doesn’t want to talk about Hell, and that’s totally fine – I seem to remember Dean wasn’t all that keen to share on the subject at first, either. The thing I found really sad was that, in Sam’s list of good things he could do again now he was back, Dean came a pretty poor fourth.

A glance out of the window shows Sid and Mrs Sid being Djinn-ed, and Dean takes off with the antidote, thereby splitting them up (and how long have we known that Sam and Dean are stronger together?) He is ambushed by two of them over at now-dead-Sid’s place (hope nobody’d got too attached to Sid) while Sam is fighting another one over at Dean’s. Sam wins, but Dean really really doesn’t, and the look in his eyes when girl!Djinn says “That was for our father, you son of a bitch” is so soft and resigned and – yes, Ackles you bastard, you did it again. *sobs* Those words – to Dean, who’s used them himself – and you can see that he truly gets it.

Meanwhile, Sam beats the first one, only to be confronted by the two who’ve just taken Dean out of the game. Is this curtains for Sammy? We’ll have to wait to find out, because now....

....we’re inside Dean’s head, and he’s dreaming or maybe he’s not. But Lisa and Ben are back, walking right into the clutches of Yellow Eyes, and could it be possible to be more deliciously eeeeevilll than Fred Lehne? That little wave – Dean passes out at the sheer awesomeness, and wakes up in Ben’s bedroom, and I haven’t been spoiled AT ALL but it’s immediately and horrifyingly obvious what’s about to happen. Child’s room + Fred Lehne = someone’s gonna BUUUUURRRN! And Ben drinking blood, and Lisa blaming Dean and and and it’s all a hallucination, sure, but YED says something about how something’s coming after Ben, and I don’t think that’s the last we’ll be hearing of that.

Back to Sam, trying to fight off the remaining two Djinn, and it’s not looking good at all until sooper-dooper Samuel and the Campbellettes come rushing in to save the day. Marvellous. Interestingly, though, instead of killing the last Djinn, they capture her and take her off to their special supernatural zoo/farm/lab or whatever. Of which, I guess, more later. Sam and Dean have no idea, because Sam was off filling Dean up with his viscous white fluid. Whereby Dean is saved.

And we have a long chat between Sam and Dean, and on the fourth watching I’m starting to see that there is more emotion in Sam than he’s letting on. But – if he’s really wanting Dean on board, he knows exactly how to achieve that, he knows that all he has to do is ask and Dean won’t be able to say no, he’s used that knowledge countless times. So saying that Lisa will be in danger if Dean stays is an odd persuasive tactic to use. Also, the Impala thing. OK, Sam doesn’t have to take it, but he doesn’t show any sign of being aware of just how significant an offer it is. So, as things stand, I’m still thinking something’s up.

And Sam drives off in NOT THE IMPALA, YOU IDIOT and Dean’s left standing there alone and pretty much every single expression that’s ever been invented passes across his face in about three seconds flat. But in the end, he just looks lonely.


I'd call you a genius but I'm in the room
elfinessy at 2010-09-26 17:39 (UTC) (Link)
Everything feels wrong in the Show at the moment :-(
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2010-09-27 08:59 (UTC) (Link)
I know - it's disturbing. I'm assuming this will all improve when they sort out whatever's up with Sam, so that the boys can do a bit of bonding. I crave Epic Brotherly Love. (If it turns out nothing's wrong with Sam, that this is just how he is now, I will be seriously pissed off - but I think there were enough clues that there's more to it.)

Meanwhile, JA has come back from hiatus looking just beautiful, so at least we can enjoy the view!
I'd call you a genius but I'm in the room
elfinessy at 2010-09-27 11:14 (UTC) (Link)
I need the brotherly love - it's why I put up with all the angst! There's definitely something wrong, and it better be reversable and dealt with before the end of the series! I need a happy ending to all this BIG TIME.
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