Supernatural, S8 Ep2 – What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?

Ms. Tran, Kevin, Dean, and Sam facing Crowley
Lyle, the pawn shop dealer

Something I never thought I’d see: Hunter the Hustler put in his place by Connie Souphanousinphone.

Ms. Tran is the mom you wish your mom could be.  She doesn’t take crap from anybody; she can outwit a smug pawn shop dealer just as well as she can punch Crowley in the face.  I loved watching her interact with Kevin, and at the end when she offers her soul to save him, you could feel her love and desperation to save her son.  What’s her soul matter when she can save her baby boy?  It reminded me of Dean offering his soul to save Sam.  This show has always been about family, and in the Supernatural universe, real family will sell their soul for you.  I hope we see Ms. Tran again. Supernatural is not that great at keeping characters alive, but if they waste the potential they have with her then I will have to lot of yelling at the TV to do.

This episode might have focused heavily on Kevin and his mom, but I think the heart of it lies with Dean and how he’s still adjusting to life on earth again, as well as his relationship with Castiel.  Dean had described purgatory as “pure” and I think what he meant was that everyone there was a monster, so it was nothing but monster killing–no gray area, no questions, they all deserved what they got.  Now Dean is back on earth and things aren’t as clear cut, aren’t as “pure.”  In interviews, Jensen Ackles has described Dean as a soldier come back from war: he doesn’t know when to stand down just yet.  So, we have him using “enhanced interrogation” techniques on some lowlife thief to get answers in a blatant parallel to his behavior in purgatory.  Watching that scene, I was almost convinced that he was having a PTSD flashback and didn’t realize what he was doing, but the fact that he held back from killing the guy proved that he did know, he just was used to a different way of life now–threatening everyone for information no matter what.  It’s a scary change, but Dean’s always been the soldier in the family, so it isn’t much of a change.  And I think that’s the scariest part.

Dean, Benny, and Castiel in purgatory

Dean, Benny, and “Hot Wings”

This development in Dean’s character makes me especially worried for Castiel.  We get a mention of Castiel in the present time when Samandriel, the angel of Wiener Hut, tells Dean that he thinks Castiel’s heart was always in the right place despite the mistakes that he made.  This makes Dean understandably uncomfortable, considering that he turned on Cas when Cas needed him the most (but Cas was dealing with Crowley, so it’s a tricky topic).  But Dean may have yet another reason to not want to hear Samandriel fan-boying Castiel.  We only get to see Cas briefly in two flashbacks and he’s looking pretty rough.  Apparently, when he left Dean after they arrived in purgatory, he wasn’t running away out of cowardice, but out of that same self-sacrificing, go-it-alone attitude that Dean taught him.  The leviathans were after Castiel and he left to protect Dean.  In the first flashback, Dean is excited to find Cas, hugging him, saying that he prayed to him, and generally showing more love for and trust in his friend than we’ve seen for the past two seasons.  Dean is adamant about getting the two of them out together while Cas is worried and reluctant about teaming up because the threat on his life would also put Dean in danger.  It’s a touching moment, the two of them showing how much they care in their own ways.  But then we get the second flashback, right at the very end of the episode.  It’s short, just a matter of seconds, and all we see is Cas holding onto someone’s arm, losing his grip and then reaching for it again, screaming Dean’s name and looking desperate, terrified.  This scene comes right after Sam tries to assure Dean that what Kevin said–that once Dean doesn’t need someone anymore, they end up dead–wasn’t true.  The juxtaposition of those two scenes couldn’t possibly be a comment on what happened down in purgatory, now could it?  And what Crowley said about using people up and watching them die bloody, that’s not an ominous foreshadowing of Castiel’s fate at all, right?  (These sarcastic questions aren’t annoying at all, are they?)  This slow reveal is killing me and it’s only episode two.  I like it, though.  It’s good for the story, even if not for my nerves.

So, these two episodes have me waiting for the next one in a bad way.  If they keep this up, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself; I’m already running out of positive adjectives.  But, as you may have noticed I’ve held back from using the “L” word.  I’ve bandied about “like” quite a bit but not “love.”  I’ve been burned before by this show, so I’m holding back on the big one until we can get a definite commitment to good episodes.  Sure, these two have been awesome and better than I’ve come to expect in the past couple of years, but perhaps it’s a fluke.  Next week we have “Heartache” where we explore more about Sam’s time over the year Dean was gone and he once again threatens to leave hunting behind.  So, are we taking bets on how he stays in the game this time?  A never-ending quest?  His girlfriend killed?  Something else that will hit him personally and will trigger that famous Winchester revenge-drive?  All I can say is that Sam’s flashbacks have way better lighting than Dean’s.

Amelia and Sam's dog

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