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SPN 8.01 - Lafitte and big leaves

Welcome to Season 8.  

The big wait is over and we got a hug.  I liked most of the first episode which was written by Jeremy Carver and directed by Bob Singer.  It felt like they had a lot of 'splainin' to do though.  The flashbacks handled part of that and I can't decide if I liked how they dropped them in there or not.  Each group of flashbacks had its own look to it.  The rest of the episode was pretty straightforward.  It looks like we've left black goo, flowers, and dead trees out of the set dressing.  It's hard to say what, if anything, will replace them.  

I haven't been spoiled for anything beyond this episode so anything after this point is pure speculation.  I think there were a couple of subtle things in this episode that are going to turn out to be revealing, mostly with Benny.  Even though we don't really know what all happened to Dean and Cas in Purgatory, I think whatever happened to Sam during the last year is going to be the more important reveal in the long run.  We know Dean isn't telling Sam everything.  I'm not sure even Sam could explain what all went on with Sam in the last year.  Kevin is a wildcard too.  Who knows what Crowley's end goal is but world domination is probably in there somewhere.

So here's what I saw.

Deep in the Hundred Acre Woods...it was a dark and foggy night.  That's pretty cool.



A man appeared in a flash of light and scared the crap out of a couple of campers, stole their stuff and headed for the highway.  How many bullets does Dean have left in that gun?  Do you feel lucky, punk?  At least the woman camper isn't wearing "about to be eaten" pink.  Turns out there isn't much pink in the episode.  What I don't get is why the guy didn't shine the flashlight right in Dean's eyes to blind him.  Then at least he couldn't aim the gun.



So Dean makes his way to Clayton, Louisiana.  It's a real small town in Concordia Parish and that lies right on the Mississippi River just across from Natchez, Mississippi.  If Louisiana is the shape of a boot, it's just above the base of the front of the leg as it joins the foot.  There's an outline of Louisiana on the road sign.  New Orleans is further south where the river runs into the Gulf, nearer to the toe of the boot.  Clayton is just north of the area settled by the Acadians, the seat of Cajun culture.  It's also just north of the area where Creole is spoken.  The region was a big cotton growing area and Natchez was a busy river port.



Dean's heading somewhere on his own down a road.  It reminded me of after he dug his way out of his grave in 4.01.  



I'm not sure how the windmill image got superimposed here...



As he gets close to where he's headed, he passes a stone with the name Lafitte carved on it.  I think this is going to be important or maybe it's wishful thinking.  Jean and Pierre Lafitte were pirates that operated partly out of the New Orleans area.  Benny has been dead and in Purgatory for 50 years but we don't know how long he lived as a vampire before that.  What's the connection, if there is one? I don't think they would have bothered with it if it weren't important.



So Dean carried a parasite or a rider out of Purgatory.  Did anything from the vampire get left in his arm?  How did he get it in there?  Ewwww, gross.





Oh hey, look at that.  Benny got restored to his body complete with clothes.  They aren't clothes from the current time, or even really fifty years ago.  Benny is apparently a vampire because we've seen his teeth.  A vampire from near New Orleans?  Of course, where else?  It's a tradition like Mardi Gras.  Maybe there will be voodoo, too.



So Benny warrants a lecture and a hug and somebody gets called brother besides Sam and fandom shrieks.  So where is Sam?  In Kermit, Texas, on the opposite side of the state from Louisiana.  Does he find out Dean is alive?  Sam leaves this little white house with cool railings.  Bob Singer did a lot with shadows and grillwork.



He leaves in the middle of the night with a goodbye pat for the dog and not a word to the woman pretending to sleep.  I like how the blind's shadows carry your eye to him.



The pat on the dog reminds me of Sam patting the Impala as he left Dean in Free To Be You and Me.



Where is he going?  Oh oh, somebody's spying on Sam.  Crowley?  Cas?  The player to be named later?



This part was curious.  Sam walks in looking sad rather than apprehensive or like he's expecting someone.  No gun, no obvious defenses....I had to watch this part a couple of times to realize that he doesn't know that Dean is there.  He's just heading for someplace to stay after leaving Amelia.  How does he know it's Dean, not some copy?  Brotherly recognition?  He doesn't seem nearly as surprised or freaked out as I would have thought.  



He ends up in a similar position to when Dean came to get him at Stanford but he doesn't fight back.  He just believes that it's Dean.



Has anyone been back to the cabin since they left for Sucrocorp?  Dean is pretty intense with a ruthless sort of efficiency.



And there is ritual welcome home bloodletting.  Dean offers to let Sam cut him and Sam says he knows it's Dean. How?



Ahhh, hug.



There's beer.  How did Dean get to the cabin?  Did he bring the food and beer?  Maybe it's from a year ago.  How is this place not crawling with mice?  Was Dean just planning on hanging out there indefinitely?



I have to fess up to the fact that I hate to listen to hurting, sarcastic Dean and whatever is going on with Sam.  I don't blame Dean for feeling hurt that Sam didn't look for him.  It would be really weird if Dean weren't mad that Sam dropped out of hunting but I don't really think he should be all that surprised.  That's what he wanted Dean to do after he jumped into the cage.  Frankly, it's not like Sam should need to be anything other than what he is.  He spent a whole year having psychotic breaks before Dean vanished.  He's been hit in the head more times than realistically survivable without brain injury.  And even without Lucifer in his noggin, it would be understandable if Sam still has PTSD from the cage.  Plus, stone number one disappeared without a trace.  Sam hasn't done well on his own in the past without Dean and that was when he still had a hunter community to reach out to.  That being said, I think we're going to find out that Sam's not as tuned out as he seems.  It was too easy for him to find Kevin. These guys don't exactly win awards for honesty with each other.  It's weird to see Sam this Zen.  Leftover turducken?  It's like all the emotional damage built up to the point at which Sam pulled back to protect whatever of himself was left.  Detachment as a defense against or resulting from trauma.  I do like that he cooks and tries to get Dean to eat.  Watching him cook reminds me of Bobby.  Sam tried to care for Dean in ways we don't usually see - is he eating, sleeping, adjusting?



Poor Sam spends a lot of the episode talking to the back of people's heads.







He took good care of the car.  It's so nice to see her.  Even the sun approves.  I like reflections on her roof.



Dog, what dog? I know nothing.....



When they get to the motel, there's a scene with Dean where he looks at vending machines and I think he's overwhelmed by too many choices.  When Sam looked at Dean from the parking lot, I thought there was a lot of understanding in his expression.  This cap doesn't quite get the look.  I think this is one reason why he gets Dean a burger later without waiting for him to order it (besides it being a pretty sweet gesture).



It's not SPN brand food and it's overwhelming.  I like how the glass picks up Dean's shadow.



There are a couple of kids in the parking lot that trigger a flashback.  



I like the look of Purgatory.  hugemind mentioned in her review post that the colors look a lot like season 1.  Reminds me a lot of Dead in the Water.





Now we're just going to appreciate the raw beauty of it.



During the flashbacks, Dean fights a couple of other vampires and gets rescued by Benny.  None of the vamps are wearing contemporary clothing.  Eventually we get to meet Benny and see this strange weapon Dean brings back with him.





I couldn't think why I thought of Russell Crowe, but yeah...it's the hair.  (I didn't see this movie.)



I hope he turns out to be an interesting character since it appears he's going to be around a while. 



That evening, Sam and Dean stay at the motel and talk a bit.  I like this shot of the motel with the reverse letters against the sky.



Dean's feeling caged up and Sam talks to him about sleep.  The motel has a grillwork divider and the patterns of the leaves and trees go with it pretty well.  The art in the room is of rowboat kind of boats.  The room has a claustrophobic feel to it.







There's still a lot of distance between these guys.



Of everything that went on in the motel room scene, this piece was the most interesting to me.  Dean's sitting on the floor probably like he sat on the ground in Purgatory.  Low to the ground and harder to see with his back covered and protected.  It's an isolated look from this angle.  He seemed to be OK with Sam behind him though.  Maybe eye contact is difficult for Dean right now.



I wonder if Purgatory felt pure to Dean because everything was stripped down to survival without a lot of moral dilemmas on top of it.  There weren't many choices to be made.  Fight back or be food.

In contrast to Dean's memories of Purgatory, Sam's memories of meeting Amelia are full color.  Sam looks just as isolated and he looks pretty shaky.  He's bloody and colored with red light.  



The vets office is one of the few places there are pinks and flowers and they just seem like part of the scene rather than indicating anything.  Were we supposed to find Amelia really grating?



Evidently that's going to change some because Sam found something he never had in his whole life.  What?  Good psychiatric care, good weed, a place to come home to for an extended period of time, Yoda, a place to recover from grief, fear and trauma in safety, enlightenment, a soft place to land.....?  What did he find that he didn't have with Jess?  Whatever it was, he's not talking about it much now.  Any more questions?




I'm going to give them a little while to roll out Sam's story before I can say if I like Sam like this.  I get how he could have ended up where he is emotionally.  I think he and Dean are going to be ok. *see burger.  (More incidental flowers - none have been red or orange.)

*burger 


They interview Kevin's girlfriend and her roommate.  Channing's in red and the roommate likes cats.  Otherwise the only other interesting thing in the room besides Sam and Dean are some big green leaves on cloth and their outlines at Channing's desk.





Leaves.



Chair and black and white leaf outline on the desk.



We'll leave Channing until her fridging at the end of the show and admire the strategically placed foot on this mode of transportation of college kids at fictional colleges in nonexistent Michigan towns.  



Let's go find Kevin.  He's at this abandoned church in Iowa.  Bob Singer took some interesting shots of it with wrought iron trim, old wood, and stained glass windows.













Kevin is the only one wearing pink in the episode and he color coordinates with the windows.  For all of the angels and demons storylines that we've had that seem to be rooted loosely in Christian theology, it's not often that statues of Jesus or Mary end up on a set.  They're both here in this church.



Kevin's on the lamb hiding out from demons but he does have clean towels.  If Sam could find him, how come the demons couldn't?  It all seems somewhat suspicious.  It seemed like the demon in Channing seemed to be expecting Dean's reappearance.  How come Crowley didn't have a demon possess Kevin?  Maybe he can't.



Then we get a flashback to Kevin's memories.  These aren't full color but they don't look like Purgatory either.  The warehouse has more lines from windowpanes and what looks like a trap on the table.  For who?



Crowley gets an angel light of all things.



Then he didn't make the cut with the sheep and ended up with the goats.



I'm wondering if Crowley will just follow these guys to see where they are headed and come in at the end.  Crowley doesn't usually underestimate the Winchesters.



The episode opened with the rerecorded version of "saving people, hunting things".  The argument Sam and Dean had above seems to cover the themes from a lot of the previous seasons: free will, revenge for Mom and Jess, this life is inevitably damaging, hard to get out of, and maybe fatal.  In the end Sam goes to talk with Kevin to try to convince him to come along with them.  The shot has more of the grillwork effect.  I thought it was interesting to hear Sam say that he knew the path from where they are to where they need to go. Does he mean he knows how to get the Hellgate mystery wrapped up or how to find the place in life where it gets better?  Dean listened to all of it and I wondered what went through his head.  



Kevin says to give him 5 minutes and shortly after that Crowley shows up.  For all his genius qualities, Kevin is a babe in the wilderness as far as how the world works.  He needed lessons from Frank about how to go off the grid.  I liked the entrance of the demons because it reminded me of Cas's entrance in 4.01 with the roof boards rattling.



Oh, Kevin, get jaded quick.  Crowley seems like an affable demon on the surface but he didn't get to be King of Hell by shaking hands and kissing babies.




I hope you don't have to take it as far as Dean though.  Kevin gets completely covered by the darkness (Crowley) and there is Dean backed up by Our Lady running interference.  In the next second, Sam is shoulder to shoulder with him.  Then Dean gives Crowley a look that promises pain and suffering.







Did they manage to grab their stuff as they ran out?  Oh well, it will turn up.  The purgatory knife is too cool not to make a reappearance.  The hilt looks like it was made from a leg bone of a righteous wendigo.  Then we have to watch as SPN fridges another girl because there is no way Kevin would want to be part of this fight if he didn't have a woman to avenge.  I suppose this shows that Crowley is a more nasty SOB than we thought.  Really?  Oh well, with SPN it's as much a tradition as Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Heaven help her but I think Kevin's mother is still out there somewhere if the Leviathans didn't eat her.  Dean seems to think Kevin's been in the fight since he became a prophet.  I think Dean is just itchin' for some kind of fight.  It might come with Benny.  He's already sneaking around talking to him on the phone.  In front of the Clydesdale Inn and an awesome classic blue truck.



And Dean, he freely admitted he's different.  It will be interesting to see how much and in what ways.  How did time pass in Purgatory?  I wonder what happened to Cas.  I don't think he's dead or Dean would have said that explicitly.  He said he just let go.  I wonder if that means literally.  And then there's Benny.  Hanging out in a cemetery of all places.  Who is being buried and what does that mean for Benny.  What is Benny doing for food? 





That's a sweet hat and he's switched a belt up for suspenders.  I wonder if he'll get to change his clothes or if he'll be stuck in that coat like Cas was stuck in his trenchcoat.  There are flowers at the burial but nothing bright orange.

So we got left with mysteries about everyone, which is not a bad way to start a season.  It seems weird to say this but about the only one I could really relate to was Sam and that hasn't usually been the case.  It will be interesting to see him work though things with nothing supernatural about them.  Just real life crap.  Maybe that's what he's never had before in all his life.

All caps from the Home of the Nutty.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
counteragent
Oct. 8th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed this recap! I'm intrigued that Sam didn't know Dean was there. I didn't get that.
galwithglasses
Oct. 8th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
I'm still not sure what Sam knew when he got there. It was all pretty confusing. I'm wondering if anyone else saw it that way.
quirky_thoughts
Oct. 8th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Great recap.
I thought when Sam turned up at the cabin he seemed a bit off. Something's most definitely not as it seems with him. Why was Sam so certain it was Dean? I had assumed on my first watch that Dean had called him...but now I’m not so sure. And on the face of it Dean’s been doing everything to survive....becoming the perfect hunter with none of those pesky moral dilemmas. It’s no wonder he feels that it has a kind of purity about it. Although where’s the morality of teaming up with a vampire? And calling him brother? Hmmm.

I don’t think Cas is dead...but something interesting must have gone on for Dean to be all secretive about it.

I really did love this episode. It’s set up lots of possibilities. All of them intriguing.

Benny did remind me of someone...and I couldn’t think who. Yes, Russell Crowe! XD
galwithglasses
Oct. 8th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
I can't wait for the next one. I'm looking forward to everybody's stories.
hugemind
Oct. 8th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
Has anyone been back to the cabin since they left for Sucrocorp?

Sam's phones were there, all neatly boxed up? Or maybe he had them with him in his backpack. I have no idea. :)

Something about Dean's face and the way he was lit reminded me of Alastair's-torturer!Dean from 4x16.

The reversed motel letters make me think that maybe Show's suggesting that the roles have been reversed. Dean's friends with a vampire and Sam's quit hunting even though he never talked about doing that after S2.

Hee, I noticed you mentioned Dean having his back protected in the motel room which is exactly what I also thought in the comment I left you at spnematography. :D

galwithglasses
Oct. 9th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
I bet the phones were buried in the Impala truck which is why Dean didn't find out about Kevin earlier.

The reversed letters...I hope we don't have to go through "you picked a vampire over your own brother." I don't think it will come to that though.

As soon as I saw Dean on the floor it really brought it home that reentry is going to be a rough ride for Dean. I'm glad they did it because it makes it more real.
etoile444
Oct. 9th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this recap emmencely. It made me laugh quite a bit, especially:

Evidently that's going to change some because Sam found something he never had in his whole life. What? Good psychiatric care, good weed, a place to come home to for an extended period of time, Yoda, a place to recover from grief, fear and trauma in safety, enlightenment, a soft place to land.....? What did he find that he didn't have with Jess? Whatever it was, he's not talking about it much now. Any more questions?


Yeh, really, what did he find that he never had with Jess? Honesty? Cuz that's the one big thing he never had with her. However, his sneaking out at night doesn't look too good either.

It's interesting that you could relate to Sam. Since he no longer has any meaning in this world (for me, it was all about his destiny and specialness) I am struggling to like him at all. Your review kindled a few feelings of love, so I have hope.

galwithglasses
Oct. 9th, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
I never had any kind of stress and loss in my life like these guys but I used to work in a really politicized environment where we were always struggling to get funding for state programs. I wanted to do a good job for the staff and people using libraries which was where the funding was going so I was always really wound up about it. After 9 years, I had a child and left the library world. I was a big time news junkie until that point too. Then I got postpartum depression and it took me a while to get my head on straight. I'm out of the library world other than as a volunteer book shelver and I don't listen to the news much. It just works out better mental-healthwise. So I can see Sam finally needing to get his head sorted out. I don't think he abandoned Dean entirely though and it may take a while in the season to find out what really went on. At least he's not soulless or married to Becky so I think it will work out.

It seems like the SPN story is often told through Dean's point of view, which in turn becomes our view - is Sam ok, what is Sam up to, where is Sam - and maybe this season will be more about Sam's observations of Dean and he will be our view into the story. I don't know how it will play out but I'm hopeful. Dean is going to need someone in his corner looking out for him. That Sam is paying attention to Dean eating and sleeping is a big change in the caretaking balance in their relationship. It's not all about what Sam needs this time. I think that's what Sam needs to be doing for himself and Dean. Sam gets to worry about someone else for a while and get out of his own head. I think some of that was represented in the fight with the demons when Dean lost his Purgatory knife and Sam got Ruby's knife to him.

I don't know if that makes sense or not. I feel like I just rambled....
etoile444
Oct. 9th, 2012 09:42 am (UTC)
You make a lot of sense. Perhaps Sam is actually less of a selfish bastards then we think. I agree he was looking out for Dean and I like that. Sam has always had an obsessive personality, always been driven, even at times like HS and Stanford when his obsessiveness was social acceptable. I guess its hard for me to see him loose a major characteristic. I think he had an early mid life crisis.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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