Watching this episode, I was happily glued to it. Then when it was finished I realized I was baffled about a couple of things. (That's not really new...) Kind of "Wait a sec, what..?" It probably would have worked better as a two-parter. There was a lot to cover in just 42 minutes or whatever it was. First things first though. SSSSSAAAAAAMMMMMM! Jared did awesome work with this one. I really liked how Sam was written. The character has grown up so much. No whining for this guy and he managed to ignore Lucifer long enough to work a case. Sam seemed to be holding himself together pretty well all things considered until the demons showed up. After the shock treatment, I don't know if he ever would have made it without Cas's intervention. I'm really baffled about the Lucifer bit now though. If Cas was able to draw something off into himself, that seems to indicate that Lucifer is more than just a hallucination. Has Sam had a real connection with Lucifer this whole time? (Mark Pellegrino is such a delightfully awful Lucifer.)
As for rest of the characters, I felt woeful for Dean, irritated to see Meg (except maybe it means more Crowley), and ambivalent about Cas. My favorite flavor of Cas was late-season-five Cas. He was funny and sympathetic but also provided an interesting way to make comments on human nature. I have nothing against Meg except I was really enjoying the angel-free, demon-free season. I like seeing regular old humans fighting a supernatural problem that wants to eat us for lunch without having extra power that can rush in and clean up the mess. I know Cas is currently on lockdown with Lucifer but he's still angel-powered which means he's an easy fallback way out of a complicated plotline. If the whole point of this season has been to make the boys fight monsters without their usual support structure and then they bring back an angel to fix it (Sam) in two minutes, what was the point? Why did we have to go through Bobby's death? For such a popular character, though, I never felt Cas got a good send off and maybe he'll get a chance now. Maybe they'll let him stick around.
The episode was written by Sera Gamble and directed by Robert Singer, old hands at this by now. It was a lot of filming stuffed in one show and there were a large number of sets for them to work with. Although there were a few of the color cues used that we've seen before, a lot of the story was told by the actors through body language and facial expression. There was some foreshadowing of Cas's return as an angel. What stood out for me this time were the number of images that used windows. Views both through them and of them. Quite a few of them were shattered during the episode. Maybe it's a reflection on Sam's shattered hold on reality and ability to sleep, maybe it's the shattered hell wall in his head.
So it begins with Sam on the run. We've seen this at least once before when the wall first came down. Unlike the last time where it was all in his head, this is apparently real, although Sam is having a hard time separating reality from hallucination. The rail yard and alleys were great choices for settings. The alleys had a lot of wild graffiti. I don't know if the crew added to what was already there. hells_half_acre lived not too far from the area and has a picture of the alley. She managed to see a bit of the set and reported about it here and here.
Not too far into the beginning sequence, there's a hint that angels might be around. Those streetlight lamps are pretty much only used when angels are in an episode. It looks like there might be a cross off in the distance too but that seems like coincidence.
The angel lights follow Sam. They could be for Lucifer. There is some of the rainbow color on the wall like in the clown episode also. Seems to me Sam was doing some running at the beginning of that one too.
The face of agony in the graffiti is perfect. Above, it's behind bars.
Life imitates art?
I love the colors of this one.
It looks like it has a big A with a halo over it right behind Lucifer later.
Sam continues through the alley and runs past a car he should recognize.
Sam's ride from 5.04 The End. We can't have the Impala so we get this instead? Not a suitable trade but it is a Sam-sized car. I'm waiting for Dean to steal a Neon.
Here's the start of views through windows.
It's quickly shattered like any chance for rest that Sam had.
Even though it's all in his head.
He ends up having another window (and rib) shattering experience quickly after.
Pretty soon we find out that while he's not badly physically hurt, he's in lockdown in a psych ward at the local state hospital. Dean is, as always, respectful of office hours. Hey, look what's hanging on the coat rack.
Another window view.
And another. Awww, no.
It's a decent sized room for a hospital. Look at that bathrobe on the wall. Looks a lot like....well, you get the idea. Most of the time, SPN hospitals use blue and white bedding. Sam gets a yellow blanket though. Maybe it's because he's not safe even here.
They must not be too worried about Sam trying to hurt himself or anyone else because there is a surprising amount of stuff available to it with, including a picture that presumably has glass in the frame, a big ol' heavy water pitcher, and those crazy lamps. Then later, we get Marin who has been diagnosed as suicidal and she's just wandering loose, stealing stuff. It's like a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
Lucifer is a Cat's Cradle-Vonnegut kind of guy. It's not a game you usually play alone.
Poor Sam seems to be taking the Slaughter-house Five way of looking at life. So it goes.
It was hard to tell if Sam was mad at Dean for trying to save him or just feeling the futility of it all. The alternative of a Sam topside while his soul was still rotting in the cage wasn't much of a choice as far as Dean's options went. Oh, Dean. It's really hard to be your brother's keeper.
He's still going to try to find a solution, which could be incredibly optimitic or really deluded about the reality of the situation. That Dean went to go work the problem methodically instead of bashing in a window or threatening someone shows some hope left. Later, he makes what may be a bad bargain with Meg but Sam's up and moving again. Bad deals with demons are the Winchester way, after all and it buys them some time.
So my question about Dean and his drinking has been answered by the fact that he drank till he passed out before Sam went out for his run. He didn't slow down on the drinking much here. I like the headline below. Maybe it's a reference to Cas and Daphne.
Then a mighty wind comes along....or Bobby. Well lookee there.
This address book name-drops just about everybody: Sera, Phil's Pizza on Sgriccia Ave, Serge, Robbie Thompson.
I wonder if this is the guy that stuffed the deer's head.
Is this Clif? Anyhow, he goes by the name Rev. Prayer. The Blessed Penny sounds like something to sell at Cons.
So a good lead and Dean's off to see Emmanuel (meaning "God with us" - ironic or not). The house behind Dean was one of the few places red, green and yellow show up together. Could be danger, could just be an awesome house.
Dean looked through the window on the front door and then he looked through the side window where there is something to see.
Yeah, that's not suspicious. I guess it's danger after all.
Then we get the next shattered window.
Dean's "do you feel lucky punk? Well do ya?" face. The demon should know better than to bet against the house especially when it's holding Ruby's knife.
Here's a couple of faces that say a lot without words.
Cas and his wife have quite a few statues of the Buddha and a sitar. And snow globes. Poor Daphne, she seems like a nice girl. It all smacks a bit of Florence Nightingale syndrome. What happens to her now? She's kind of like Cas's version of Lisa. Collateral damage.
Another face we've seen Dean make all too often.
Off they go. After an awkward car trip, they stop outside Ace of Suedes. Hee.
Here's the other batch of red and yellow. Don't go in there. Well, I guess we're going to watch this disaster unfold through another windshield.
Don't get between Dean and the beer, dang it.
Smashed phone too.
Killing a demon next to the picture on the box of the dad giving the kid a kiss - priceless. Where is the store staff? Oh, here.
Sort of like the fight with supposed demons in Good God, Ya'll.
At the end of the episode, Dean says something about every demon who knows about Cas is dead (besides Meg) but Plaid Shirt gets out of the body before Meg can kill him. Does he know about Cas? More windows.
Then we're on to another awkward car ride and a view through a windshield.
Back to Sam, who is enduring Guantánamo Bay level noise torture. They did a good job having him wear a loose t-shirt to make him look diminished from his usual gargantuan self. His hair down makes his face look thinner, too. Mostly, it's Jared making this completely believable.
Reading the DSM-IV is a good way to make yourself crazy if you aren't already there. At least a hypochondriac. That's in there too.
Marin's first appearance reminded me of so many of the ghostly women in white we've seen over the seasons. I expected her to flicker. She turns out to be an engaging person, if a bit larcenous. This episode had the common theme of siblings running through it. Sam and Dean, Marin and her brother, and Cas and Lucifer. For once, Sam and Dean have the most healthy relationship of the group. Well, they're both alive and real anyhow.
Sam's going to help her even though he's dying. I liked this sequence of zooming in on faces while Marin is making the salt circle. Just ramping up the tension. Sam looks pretty determined to get the job done.
Looks pretty satisfied to me. I liked Marin. She said thank you.
You knew it wasn't going to last, didn't you? I know you watch this show. You know the drill. Whump.
Hang in there Sam, the cavalry is coming...Cas just has to remember how to do that smiting thing...
So he sees the light and remembers. We've seen Cas lit up like this a lot in the past.
I like how Misha goes from confused, innocent, apprehensive Emmanuel to angry, powerful, determined Cas with just body language.
Then we get what everyone has been waiting for. Dean gives the knight his bloodied, tarnished armor back. Now that he's remembered, he gets to put the guilt and bloody past back on.
Ok Cas, go make it right.
Dean looks to be just holding himself together at this point. He doesn't stand like this too often.
While they are puzzling it out, Lucifer, the big bad wolf, is reading the Three Little Pigs to Sam. Are the three little pigs supposed to be brothers? It would make a neat parallel somehow. Either team free will or John's three sons.
Sam can't even hear Cas's apology. It wouldn't be the first time angels have blocked him from hearing an apology.
So what is transferring here? If you really want to stretch the shattered theme, it could work for the blood vessel pattern.
Taking his turn in Hell and beyond reach at this point. The show continues exploring forgiveness, atonement, and redemption.
Last window shot.
Then the show seemed to end really abruptly. The boys leave and Dean pretty much lays out the bottom line for Sam over the roof of the car. All their friends are dead, everything on the planet is gunning for them, and they can't keep Cas safe so they had to leave him under the watchful eye of Meg, a demon they can't trust. For Dean, that's probably the glass (or whiskey bottle) half full. There didn't seem to be any sense of relief from either of the boys now that Sam's head is Lucifer-free. Did Sam even get any sleep or is he supposed to do it in the car now? How did they get Sam discharged and Cas committed? I'm guessing this isn't the last we'll see of Cas or Meg.
Throughout this season, the show has been exploring mental health in many ways. Some of it's hard to watch. Some of it's triggering (like maybe the rest of this paragraph). Dean's depressed, maybe suicidal and is self-medicating with alcohol. He's been told to suck it up, put a smile on it, find some motivation for going on and to forgive himself and let it go. Sam has flashbacks of hell and Lucifer, who might or might not have been in his head for the whole season. He's been hallucinating and using pain to manage it. The hospital tried to use medication. Cas had amnesia. Marin was really haunted and thought to be crazy. Jeffery was a serial killer who was in the care of some sort of treatment program and thought to be improving. Lots of people have phobias. Witches (and a lot of other people) could use marriage counseling. One person's mental illness is someone else's haunting. It's just like real life, where there are different causes and problems and many different ways to help, some more successful than others. It would be really nice if it were as straight-forward to heal as salting and burning a bracelet. All too often, it's years of talk therapy, messing around to find the right medication, a family with patience who goes through their own crap as a result, and maybe hypnosis, emdr, electroshock therapy or hospitalization. If you're lucky, it works and you realize there is a sun and it actually shines. Then you get out of bed and get on with living. Thank you if you're a part of this process for anybody. Hang in there if it's you working it out.
Caps by http://homeofthenutty.com and true_fellings.