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The episode was written by Adam Glass.  I had a mixed reaction to the episode but for the most part, I thought it worked.  If they weren't going to run with demon!Dean for more of the season, they had to get Sam and Dean back on the road together.  The boys still don't seem to be at ease with each other and I think that's as it should be.  They also seem to be working on getting past everything and back to a better spot.  The plot always seems to be related to whatever is going on with the boys and this one was no exception.  We had lonely Kate who saved her sister's life by turning her into a werewolf without her consent.  That echoes what happened with Sam and Dean last season.  The show also reexamined the idea that you can choose how to live your life no matter what might be putting pressure on you, whether that's your onboard werewolf, demonhood or Mark of Cain.  Unlike Kate, Tasha gives in to the power of the new thing she's become and does some howling at her own moon.  She likes what she's become and has no intention to change.  Left to his own devices, demon!Dean would still be carrying on.  In the end, Kate ended up doing to Tasha what Sam couldn't do to Dean.  Sam got lucky and he was able to cure Dean of being a demon.  I think Sam and Dean may have to revisit this again before the season is over.  The Mark of Cain is still there to contend with.

This episode seemed unusual in that we had a lot of scenes of Sam and Dean talking with each other.  I think the boys made a bit of progress but still have quite a ways to go.  One thing I don't get is the big deal about how Sam is supposed to have gotten really dark in his search for Dean.  This is only really going to make sense if we get a clearer picture of what all he did that we don't already know about.  Right now, it seems like a tempest in a teapot.  Dean poked at Sam about it and Sam reminded him that he had done some nasty things as a demon.  This is different than Dean telling Sam that none of what he had done while soulless was really him.  They seem to be saying being a demon isn't enough to evade responsibility for what you've done.  It seems to me like Dean is pointing out the splinter in Sam's eye while ignoring the demon-black log in his own.  I'm thinking this is pretty common behavior for Dean but I'd like to see comments if that reading of Dean is off.

Dean: I just figured since we're opening up veins, that maybe you wanted to talk about the guy you made sell his soul.
Sam: The guy who you then killed, right. That's the same guy we're talking about?
Dean: I was a demon.
Sam: Oh you were a demon, I didn't realize that.


Later though, Sam reminds him that he was a demon and the behavior came with the condition so maybe it's a mitigating factor after all.

Dean: It's embarrassing, you know.
Sam: What's embarrassing?
Dean: All of it. The note. Crowley. Everything.
Sam: Dean, you were a demon.
Dean: Oh I was a demon, I didn't realize.
Sam: Shut up.


I suppose embarrassing is one way of putting it.  I think we got as much of a thank you from Dean to Sam as we'll get for now.

Dean: Not to mention, I never said thank you. So…
Sam: You don't ever have to say that, not to me.


More importantly, I think although he never says it, I think Dean realizes that Sam has been right about a lot of what happened last season.  It's a lot for him to admit though and I don't think Dean is there yet.  I don't know if he ever will be.  He does basically admit to screwing up though and that's pretty positive.  He has to acknowledge that he messed up before he can work on making things right.

Dean: Let's say you're right.
Sam: About what?
Dean: Everything. Maybe I'm not ready to hunt. But I am just trying to do the right thing, man. 'Cause I am so sick and tired of doing the wrong one.


For me, the most important discussion came after Dean lied to Kate about a cure.  (Again with the lying.  Always lying.  Lying to people, hunting things.....the family business.)

Dean: Kate and Tasha are monsters, and last I checked we kill monsters.
Sam: Right, but how can you possibly blame Kate for fighting for her sister, we do it all the time.
Dean: Oh yeah, that's worked wonders for us.
Sam: We're still here, aren't we?
Dean: Yeah, but is it right?


I like that Dean is questioning whether what the boys will do for each other is really right and that Sam is pointing out the similarity in their situation to Kate and Tasha.  Sam makes a good point about holding themselves accountable in the same way that they hold the rest of the world.  It is perilously close to admitting that what Sam and Dean do is cast judgement and mete out punishment according to rules that they themselves do not play by.  Dean appears to be falling back on the black and white rules of hunting as laid down by John Winchester.  Kill it if it isn't human.  How does the Mark of Cain fit in with Dean's judgement calls now?  Sam continues to see a much more complicated picture.  I am struck by how I think this relates to the way each of the boys approaches his own failings and his brother's and how it fits in with their abilities to forgive each other.

Somewhere along the line for work, I had to take the Myers Briggs type indicator assessment.  Its usefulness in the workplace could be debated but I learned some things about myself that came in handy later on.  As part of the survey, in one section you are asked to make choices between two words.  All these many years later (and we're talking about 30 years or so), I still remember sitting there having to make a choice between the words justice and mercy.  I think SPN explores making that choice as one of the big themes of the show without really using the words very often. What do the words mean?  Where do the terms overlap and what should take precedence if a choice between them is required?  Who makes the choice, why, and what are the repercussions of the decision?  Who pays the price when either choice is made? We did have demon!Dean give a lecture on what his version of mercy was in 10.01.  I don't know if he's really an expert but he certainly had an opinion and he saw it differently than Sam.  All the same questions about mercy and justice apply to the case Sam and Dean worked this week.  Your essay on this topic is due in a week, double-spaced, 12pt. Times Roman, 1 inch margins and at least 3 pages long.  Is essay a square on the spnspiration bingo card?  I think the fact that I stewed about this choice so much says more about my personality than what word I actually picked.

This week's episode was directed by Jeannot Szwarc.  He's only done a couple of other episodes for SPN.  He did a nice job with the filming of this one.  It opened with a full moon and in SPN, that must mean werewolves.  I'm sorry, Mr. Armstrong.  Try PBS.



The episode was titled Paper Moon and the Supernatural Wiki says that "a paper moon is a term for a spherical paper lantern. They can be used to provide artificial moonlight in film productions."  For me, paper moon calls to mind It's Only a Paper Moon, a jazz standard by Harold Arlen published in 1933.  I think it's worth putting the lyrics here because it seems pretty relevant to the show.  These are from Paper Moon as sung by Natalie Cole.

I never feel a thing is real
When I'm away from you
Out of your embrace
The world's a temporary parking place
Mmm... A bubble for a minute
Mmm... you smile
The bubble has a rainbow in it

Say it's only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me

Yes it's only a canvas sky
Hanging over a muslin tree
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me

Without your love
It's a honky tank parade
Without your love
It's a melody played in a penny arcade
It's a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me, oh…

I really liked a couple of the shots used by Mr. Szwarc, particularly this one.



He chose to begin filming many of the scenes by using a shot of the surrounding area.  Some were views of big areas of scenery like the one below.



Many of them focused in on some small detail and worked outward toward the characters.  Here are several.

Sam and Dean interview the guy at the bar.



Tasha's hospital bed.



Sam and Dean in the restaurant with Kate.



Tasha is waiting for Sam.



He also used several closeups of a heart bracelet and it proves to be a red herring at one point.  All we see of the person that killed Biker Guy are red lips, the bracelet and nails that turn to claws.  I like the use of the heart for the love of the sisters for each other but also as a reminder that werewolves eat human hearts.  In many ways, it's appropriate for this episode that it's a broken heart.  Here is Tasha's arm from the bar at the start of the episode.




I particularly like the growing red light on the heart here.



When we see the person leaving the motel room that we think is Kate, we see this bracelet first.  Later we find out that it wasn't her.



When Kate goes to visit Tasha at the hospital, we see both bracelets together.  In reality, I don't think Tasha would still be wearing this in the hospital but it makes for a nice image here.  I think it's worth noting that if the hearts were put together the way they are shown, they wouldn't make a complete heart.



At the end, Kate has both of them.  The heart halves still don't make a whole.  The thing about Kate turning Tasha that I find disturbing is that in terms of SPN, Kate not only messed with Tasha's life here, she messed with what happens after she dies.  By turning Tasha into a werewolf, Kate essentially barred Tasha from being able to get into Heaven, if I understand the way SPN is treating Purgatory.  That is neither justice nor mercy.

We're looking at Kate through the glass window of a phone booth.  The director filmed Kate several times through windows or doorways, highlighting how isolated and cut off from people that she is.









The director placed a lot of the shots of characters in front of neon signs for a nice effect.  Kate got red.



Later, in the car, Kate has a little bit of green light.



Witness Guy got yellowish.



Sam and Dean get an interesting mix of red and yellow and red and blue.









We also had neon used for lighting at the beginning of the episode outside the roadhouse.  A panhead is the name given to an engine made by Harley-Davidson from 1948 to 1965.  It looks like it has a couple of upside down pans on the top of the motor.  The shape of the sign behind the word here looks sort of like the Harley logo shape and the H-D logo is orange and black.  Harley is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



The bar had some road trip related signs on the wall too.  One is a road sign for a highway in Louisiana.



US 2 is one of the ways to get across northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan and is one of the ways I take to get back to where I'm from.  It's the most northern US highway and the only one actually planned in two separate sections.  The first section crosses the country starting in Maine until it gets to the Canadian border in New York and the second section starts in the UP near the Mackinac Bridge and runs all the way out to Washington.



Witness Guy gets a skull and a rose for his jacket.



Dead Biker Guy is killed in front of a sign with an anchor and Puget Sound.



The maritime theme also shows up at the diner where Sam and Dean meet with Kate.  The diner tables are topped with navigational charts or topographical maps and there's some coiled rope detail behind Sam.   The diner probably has a lovely view of the water and mountains.



As soon as we saw Kate at the beginning, we should have known that she wasn't the monster.  She's wearing plaid.



She is also wearing pink though so all is not well.



The boys got to wear forest ranger uniforms.  I just like their faces here.  It also fits with the Paper Moon song.

It's a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me, oh…



The law enforcement office has a lot of reminders of hunting of the more traditional sort from the taxidermy on the walls to the fishing trophy on one of the desks.  There are also a couple of US flags.



Some of those same things are in the main room at the cabin where Tasha is hiding out.  The US flag lamp shows up behind Sam or Dean through a lot of this scene.



There's an antler light fixture.



There are also lots of pictures of Kate and Tasha in happier times.



The outdoor sporting theme carries over into the bedroom with snowshoes, landscape picture and a tree lamp.



At the end, we're left with a curious grouping of shoes.  Red doll shoes on the bed, spare shoes along the wall and the shoes on Tasha's feet.  There's a fish mounted on the wall.



I like that they set this in Washington state where both the hunting and fishing references work as well as the gorgeous scenery from the beginning with Sam and Dean.  Looks like they've convened a meeting of the Brotherhood of the Green Cooler.  It's nice to see it again.  I wonder if this is what they were shooting when Jared did his ALS ice bucket challenge and Jensen dumped ice from the cooler over his head.



SPN, subtle as always, posted a No Hunting sign which was noticed and commented on by many people.



Just chillin' and I started off hoping they weren't wearing sunglasses because one of them still had black eyes.





It was nice to see Sam and Dean having a beer together.  They've managed to road trip halfway across the country with each other and seem to be getting along tolerably well.  We got another reference to Sam and his sling with Dean using it as a reason to pick on Sam.  It sounds like sibling ribbing with an undercurrent of deflection.



Things are still tense between them and that shows up off and on as they talk with each other.



They still work the case though and end up surviving with some help from Kate.



Then we got this and no, that doesn't look like some sort of illegal deal is going down, no not at all.  Right.



With all the conversations Sam and Dean had, we got to see a lot of film of them riding in the car.  It was an interesting choice to put Sam in the backseat because it's a lot easier to get Sam and Dean and their expressions in the same shot.



I don't know how Kate can sleep.  There's no way I'd let my guard down around these guys enough to look out the window, let alone take a nap.



See what I mean?  I had to wonder if Dean used silver handcuffs or just figured regular ones would slow Kate down enough for them to finish with Tasha.  They ended up lucky Kate was able to get out of them.  I have to wonder what Dean was thinking, leaving a werewolf in his car, especially one that doesn't rely on the full moon to turn.  What did he think he was going to come back to in his car?  Let's poke all kinds of holes in that paper moon.



At the end, we get the boys together in the front seat of the car.



With Dean's last comment, I was left hopeful that the two of them can work out some of the bad things they have between them since it seems apparent that they are going to stay on the road together.  I like the rain on the windows.  They are driving through Washington, after all.



All caps from homeofthenutty

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
kazluvsbooks
Nov. 18th, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
LOVE your rundowns and all the details you pick up that i NEVER see!!!

Awesome!!
galwithglasses
Nov. 18th, 2014 11:17 pm (UTC)
I love your icon. I like to look at all the stuff they cram in an episode and I'm glad I'm not the only one. They put so much time and work into how the show looks and it's fun to oooh and aahhhh about it.
caranfindel
Nov. 19th, 2014 07:28 am (UTC)
As soon as we saw Kate at the beginning, we should have known that she wasn't the monster. She's wearing plaid.

I love the way you notice these things!
galwithglasses
Nov. 19th, 2014 09:50 am (UTC)
It's so much fun to look for stuff like this.
ash48
Nov. 21st, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
Excellent observations as always.:)

I like how relevant those lyrics are to the show. It would be lovely to think they had made that connection too.

Love the observation about the hearts and what werewolves eat. :)

The theme of "justice and mercy" have played out a few times now (more recently in 10.06). And the idea of choice. I like that this these themes are being explored - especially when Dean has a chance to ponder on them. I liked his "but is it right". Perhaps Dean actually does think more on this after last season than even Sam might. (That might help make sense of why this week it was Sam hearing the "I had not choice" speech and not Dean.

Aaaanyway. Thanks for your keen eye. These posts always make the ep so much more interesting. :))
galwithglasses
Nov. 22nd, 2014 12:10 am (UTC)
As soon as Sam started to talk about mercy, I was saying a-ha, they are going somewhere with it. We'll see how long it lasts.....
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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