For all that this has caused me no end of stewing, for me the episode was middle of the road. There were a couple of things plot-wise that were really frustrating but that seems to be par for the course for SPN. Issues are unresolved and it's left to fan fiction writers to fill in the blanks and make some coherence out of the space between episodes. I think this partly happens with SPN because rather than having one writer for all the episodes, they are handed out to different writers and it seems rare for anyone to do them back-to-back. It's kind of like baking a cake by committee with only a general sense of how a cake should look and taste and being required to use all the ingredients left on the counter. This episode was written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming. Their six episodes range from The Slice Girls, Route 666 and Heartache which I didn't enjoy so much to Of Grave Importance which was ok. They were given an episode where they had to wrap up the Purgatory story, bring Cas back, catch up with Kevin and Crowley, introduce Naomi, and move Sam and Dean forward to wherever they're going. I'm glad they didn't drag some of this out over lots of episodes. I'm at the point where the angels/demons plot line is boring unless it is Lucifer messing with Sam's head. I like Crowley as a villain when he is outsmarting the boys and being crafty, rather than as a brutal torturer. We've had that and the YED, Alastair and Zachariah were far better at it. I don't mind Cas when he's well written.
Southern Comfort was an emotionally charged episode that set up a big division between the brothers that seemed really unresolved at the end. It didn't seem like the fight was over when the ep ended. To go from that level of anger in both brothers to Sam being quietly supportive and Dean I-Don't-Talk-About-It Winchester spilling his guts about feelings left me really off balance. It's as if we saw a car crash over the edge of the cliff and watched it falling. We didn't see it hit the ground but by the next episode it was meandering down the road without a scrape and a few of the dents that had been there pre-crash were gone too. Wait a minute...What? How the heck did that happen? It would have made a lot of sense to give some indication of how much time had passed since the last episode. The continuity folks are all over the map when it comes to what year it actually is in SPNland so that's a lot to ask for. Maybe it's two months later and Dean moved on like Sam said he should and Sam had a chance to lick his emotional wounds. Who knows? And that's part of the problem.
Along with the writing being what it was, the episode was directed by Charlie Carner, a first time director on SPN. I think he was at a disadvantage not knowing the characters or the actors as well as some other directors. He still did some interesting things with the filming and it still felt like a SPN episode. Jensen did mention at one of the recent conventions that filming the Purgatory scene on top of the rocks was some of the most physically uncomfortable acting he's done on the show. That's saying a lot from a guy who has endured bees, being hung from hell chains, and digging his way out of a grave. He said the weather was really hot and the action was pretty intense along with the fact that they're wearing a lot of layers. Then the director decided to bring in enormous wind generators making the actors have to yell their lines and try to stay upright while being sand blasted. I'm not really sure that was necessary or even that noticable after seeing it. As far as the filming went, there was a continued use of some color themes, warning signs, and some prop reuse. The director did a lot with tables and grates that were clear or lit from below. He also used the industrial parts of the warehouse to his advantage in shooting. A lot of the backgrounds were tree and plant covered which seems to be continuing a trend this season.
I was pretty excited at the beginning of the episode because shots of a flag show up early on. The last episode used that imagery a lot so I figured we'd continue on from then. Not so much.
Back when Team Free Will was at it's most united and a common theme was destiny versus making your own choice, red, white and blue showed up all over the place. There were lots of American flags and Americana in motels and scenery. So far this season, they've used a couple of shades of red and a light sky blue and some white gets mixed in. There's a lot of green, particularly when Sam and Dean are in the scene. The idea of free will was brought up by Sam in the first episode when he asked Dean if he was the only one allowed free will. When Cas was talking to Dean about leaving Purgatory he said, "It's not about fault. It's about will." A woman tried to read the tablet for Crowley and pulled out a couple of lines from the US Declaration of Independence, "we hold these truths to be self evident...." That leads into the part about created equal and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Rather than free will versus destiny, this season it seems to be more about the ability to exercise free will in the face of coercion and opposition. Exercising free will comes at a personal cost, be it leaving the kind of life you might want, leaving people behind or losing them altogether, or leaving fingers or even your soul behind.
The sky blue in this episode and some of the earlier ones seems to go along with Kevin and the other possible prophets as well as Cas. The bright red shows up with everyone, particularly demons. The darker red seems to go with female victims. It must be the new pink. Pink seems to show up on women who are being used by demons. The episode opens with a playground featuring the bright red, sky blue and green. No comment on the name of the pre-school.
The little kid who will be taken by demons has the green on and is surrounded by the other colors.
By the time the demon gets to him, he's covered in prophet blue and painting on a warning yellow sheet of paper. Yellow and red together are usually a warning of danger. The possessed woman is wearing pink.
It gets worse when you see his bright yellow pants. There are pinwheels on the easels and I have to wonder if that huge rubber duck has anything to do with the SPN duck collection.
Yellow on his shirt.
Later on, the witch working with Crowley has pink on too.
Back to the playground. There are some traces of the dark red on some of the women in the crowd including this girl's flowers and a plaid shirt below.
There's a lot of red and blue in the foreground getting destroyed by the wind.
If red and blue have anything to do with free will, it's under attack.
The child disappears through a door outlined in red with a clawed, sky blue paw. I don't think it's a coincidence that the door says "boys".
Later, when Sam and Dean go talk to the formerly possessed woman, her door has the same color scheme going on. The light really focuses your attention on Sam and Dean who are surrounded by it.
The boys are backdropped by green a lot this season. They are still in blue and gray like last week but I don't think it matters so much. They have to wear the same suits once in a while. I swear the Impala trunk must be like Hermione's hand bag.
As they leave, there's a shot of a painted bright blue sky. Off to find the prophets.
All the news reports on the missing people that Sam initially finds are blue. The agency looking for Cliff Clavin is the US Federal Employees Missing Persons Bureau, USFEMPB for short. Later, the Italian guy's article gets red, white, and green. Molto bene. Sam's beer looks ominous.
Our guys spend a lot of time with green leaves. Evidently Leviathan tinged junk food is off the market. Dean's been at this long enough to know that chips in a red and yellow bag are a warning for you and not just with the cholesterol.
I like when they film faces in mirrors.
Dean's boots look authentically battered. They probably have Purgatory mud on them.
Dean faces off with a bear. I just like the composition of that shot.
This bear must be from a (big) storage closet somewhere.
It's a popular statue in Whitefish, Montana. Episode 7.03.
At the cabin, there's lots of green with a little blue and red. Dean's back to drinking beer.
Later, when the boys get to the motel, the colors are mostly green and blue. The room is full of art with water. Look ash48, a bridge! Dean's in blue now.
Green plants behind Cas.
It's the reverse of the image from when the boys went to collect Cas from the psych ward in 7.21.
Then Dean's reflection is there instead.
At this point, Sam's clothes just reflect the light and add to the blue.
Sam reassures Dean and tells him he needs to let it go along with a passing reference to survivor's guilt.
The picture behind Dean is the one that was behind him in the motel in 8.01 when he was telling Sam about Purgatory. Lots of leaves there too.
When Cas shows up, he's surrounded by sky blue. It's a similar entrance to when he arrived in Free To Be.
Back to this episode (in front of the bridge art, ash48). How does Cas know where to find Dean?
When morning comes and they're trying to figure out how Cas got there, Sam's shirt brings red back into the colors. In the old days, I'd point out the blue and green flowers on the wallpaper. There's another divider made of horizontal shelves also echoed in the window. Those kinds of dividers are in a lot of the motels this season.
Sam entered Amelia's room behind a similar divider in 8.05. He looks almost as blocked out as Cas did by the window.
Cas is in really grimy Purgatory non-colors and the window is in front of more greenery.
After he's clean, he walks out of the bathroom on a floor with yellow tiles. Something's rotten in Denmark. The other tiles are like the floor in the last episode's motel where the topic of betrayal came up. Huh.
He comes out surrounded by green and a blue sky painting and the bright blue lamp really jumps out.
Cas watches TV and most of the images are blue and white. When Dean comes back from getting more beer, there is a good shot of the sky blue and red sign outside the motel as well as the red and black pattern on that part of the motel room floor. This shot makes it look like the boys have closed ranks and Dean is keeping Cas away from Sam.
The red joins the blue and green just in time for Mrs. Tran to call and let the boys know that Crowley has Kevin. Sam wears a red shirt for the rest of the episode dealing with demons. More trees.
Kevin's life is a lot of sky blue and red these days. He starts out looking a lot like he's wearing Dean's hunter clothes. Mrs. Tran has the dark red of female victims this season.
The abandoned diner has both red and the sky blue.
Kevin ends up in sky blue. He lets in the witch working for Crowley and she's backed in red. She was about as useful and obnoxious a plot device as the angel, Hester. Remember her? Well, there ya go.
When Mrs. Tran gets down to hunter business, she gets a darker blue.
Kevin's windows are covered with leafy vines, too.
Unfortunately for Kevin, red covers the blue pretty quickly. Crowley's in the red light. Crowley took a prophet's finger. What kind of spell is a righteous finger good for?
Like one of the earlier episodes, there are warning signs everywhere. The one below is by far the best one.
Lots of green, too.
This site has had no accidents for zero days. The previous best was 67 days.
"Notice" sign on the door. Watch for hot pipes.
Just before Dean stabs the demon in the trunk.
This one takes the cake.
Then there are a couple of shots of prophets in front of a Genuine American sign. Both have the sky blue on.
The warning below is in red and white. That seems to go with demons.
Nice red monogram.
Red lights on the trunk containing a demon.
Red and white salt to keep demons out.
The Prophets are sporting a mixture of red and sky blue. This poor lady is doomed.
Flowers with yellow, no less.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night....
At the end, it's sky blue marred by demon red for Kevin, dark red for Mrs. Tran. Sam and Dean have been hunting in a green building and there's ivy all over the fence.
The warehouse provided a lot opportunities for interesting shots. Atlantic, Iowa, is the county seat of Cass County. It's in the southwest corner of Iowa, not too far north of where Southern Comfort was set. It's a 20 hour drive to Whitefish, Montana.
Lots of shots through grates and pipework all the way through the warehouse. There are a quite a few yellow pipes and bars.
Lots of the grates are lit from below.
While fighting the demons, both Sam and Dean were filmed calling back their experiences in Hell. Sam in a cage.
Dean in hooks and chains.
We've seen one type of light associated with angels, the rounded light with a bowl shaped cage on the bottom. There seem to be smaller lights with the same cage type look that show up around Cas, Samandriel and Kevin. This light is pretty red though.
There's a light while Crowley is torturing Samandriel. There's something off here and I don't know if it's a continuity error or it actually means something. What does it take to capture and keep an angel? A ring of holy fire, doesn't it? Where is it? Why can't this angel wink out of there? This just bugs me to no end. I wish Sam and Dean would just summon Crowley and gank him. That would work, wouldn't it?
Cas has the red demon light and Crowley has this week's angel light. The director chose to shoot a lot of film through the glass tops of tables. There is also a table lit from underneath like the grates.
All the while that Crowley is listening to Kevin read the tablet, he's playing with a green and red pinwheel. It's not from the playground. He tends to toy with people and Sam and Dean tend to be in green.
Shots from under the table.
I wonder who got the portion with the message from Metatron. While Cas was flexing his muscles, his eyes became really blue, like the sky blue we've seen.
The sky blue was also one of the few colors to really show up in the Purgatory footage.
The other color that showed up there was the red that went with Benny's soul.
With all the leaves we've seen with Sam and Dean, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that a maple leaf leads the Musketeers out of the Purgatory pine forest. It was a little too Disney for me. Where are the singing rabbits?
In doing the episode recap for Blood Brother, I found something that talked about blood brothers either being related by blood or by sometimes mixing blood during an oath. In addition to being "brothers in arms", this scene looks a lot like what you'd picture for men becoming blood brothers by oath. Dean had Cas in the same grip until Cas broke it. Evidently Dean isn't susceptible to vampire blood in Purgatory. I wonder if his watch kept time.
Although the lighting is different, the place that Cas is snatched to by Naomi is about as devoid of color as Purgatory. The bit of color happens to be washed out blue. The whole place looks like the lit up grates in the factory.
Cas walks by this when he gets there and I think that must be a window. What's out there? Why is it dark while the rest of the place is so illuminated? Prepare to witness the power of this fully operational battlestation. It's a traaaaap.
Cas tells Naomi that he's never been there before. Is this really Heaven? If the garrison wasn't in Heaven, where was it? I thought Cas killed a bunch of angels in Heaven and that he had one particular Heaven he liked to hang out in. Who is Naomi and what does she have to do with Cas, Dean and Sam, Benny, Amelia, Kevin or Crowley.
How can you exercise your free will if your mind is being manipulated and you don't know it? What is Cas going to do when he realizes he's being forced to spy for somebody. How much manipulation of humans is Naomi able to do? These poor clueless boys. I really hoped once they stuffed Lucifer back in his cage that they'd be done with the angels and demons messing with their lives. They're probably about to get played by everybody except hopefully each other.
All caps from homeofthenutty