What Jenny's Reading

{June 27, 2016}   Supernatural: Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire

I would say “It’s been awhile” but that’s pretty obvious.  I started a new job and have been dealing with some other stuff.  Depression sucks, as I’ve mentioned.  I even stopped reading new things.  I’ve been trying to get back into a good routine the last few weeks, and that includes posting something, even if it isn’t a book review.

I decided to review Supernatural’s season 11 the same way I did The Blacklist, except hopefully I will finish these.  I do still intend to finish The Blacklist season one, but you know what they say about good intentions and all.

But this is pretty much my favorite show, and has been since its first season.  The first episode I ever watched was Phantom Traveler, and I clearly remember being on winter break from law school and watching Asylum in my parents’ bedroom, freaked out of my mind.  To get everything out of the way: Wincest is gross (because come on guys, incest is not cool no matter what Game of Thrones tries to tell you), Castiel is my favorite character to the extent that I have a hard time watching episodes where bad things happen to him, and yes, Cas and Dean forever, but I promise I won’t be too obnoxious about it.

Anyway.  That being said, I have to admit that the show has sort of dragged the last couple of years.  I know!  I feel bad saying that, but it seemed like they were all stuck in a rut and the same things kept happening over and over.  One brother dies and one brother lies and there’s a big fight when the secret comes out, and a heartfelt chat at the end of the episode, or a stomp-off-and-brood, whatever.  I will admit that I don’t watch the show live anymore, and I haven’t watched a huge portion of Season 10, though I know what happened.  I mean, the important stuff.

But then – I hadn’t watched any of Season 11, because I decided to wait and watch several at a time because I hate waiting week to week.  But everything I read about it made me kind of excited.  And then I read a critique article that talked about how the show feels fresh and new, and the whole Casifer thing sounded a lot of fun, so after the seventeenth episode aired I finally bought the season on Google Play (shut it, iPhones are the worst).  Holy cats, I have thoroughly enjoyed every single episode, and I can’t honestly say that’s happened since about Season 1.  I mean, I love the show.  But sometimes the angst got to be a bit much, right?  I just want to see a fun show about the boys and their angel and their frenemy the King of Hell saving the world, and instead I got a bunch of manpain and betrayal and sadness.

One of the biggest problems with having an overarching Big Bad is what to do with the Big Bad while you’re waiting the season out.  A typical American television season will run about 22 or 24 episodes, and not every one of them can be dedicated to the overall story.  I get that.  But you need to provide a logical reason for not devoting that time to the Big Bad.  That’s why I will always argue that the Mayor from Buffy Season 3 was the greatest Big Bad to ever be bad.  He was scary, seemingly impossible to stop, and the show provided a good, logical reason why he couldn’t and didn’t immediately go to the school and kill Buffy and her friends.  And I’d argue that, so far, Season 11 of Supernatural has done something very similar with Amara.  In addition to that, I think Season 11 has done a great job of blending “case of the week” stuff with overarching mythology stuff.  Usually I roll my eyes a bit when the boys are off hunting vampires or whatever when they should be concentrating on the Alphas, or the Leviathans, or Lucifer or whoever.  But with Season 11 they’ve managed to blend that stuff in to the extent that I’m all, “Oh yeah, of course they’d go help Donna/Claire/whatever, regardless of what’s happening.”

Mainly I think it’s because this whole season, so far, has felt so cohesive.  Or maybe that’s just because I binge watched the first eighteen episodes, and then the last five.  Maybe that has more to do with it.

So!  The first episode of Season 11!  Quick recap: Dean had the Mark of Cain, Death said that it couldn’t be removed because removing it would unleash the Darkness, an ancient evil, and then Dean killed Death and whoopsie, the Mark got removed and the Darkness was unleashed.

Er…why wouldn’t they just transfer the Mark back to Lucifer, if it was that important?  Okay, just ignore me.  (Me, from the future: I guess they couldn’t, anyway.)

The beginning of the episode is told via a series of (in my mind) unnecessary flashbacks.  Suffice to say: our boys are in the Impala, and the smoke envelopes them.  Dean sees a woman standing outside the car, and suddenly he’s standing in a field with the woman, surrounded by the smoke.  He talks to the woman, says he knows her and she’s surprised, because it’s been a long time and she thought everyone forgot her.  Then she shows off her cool Mark of Cain tattoo on her shoulder and says they’re bound.  Um, her and Dean, not her and her tattoo.  And we all know Dean’s a sucker for little tattoos, right?  (Bonus points if you get that reference, I think it’s from all the way back in Season 1.)

Incidentally, I had guessed that the Darkness and Dean would have some kind of connection, based on the fact he’d had the Mark.  I’m very pleased with myself that I was right.

Sam’s still in the car, and it’s all sunny out now.  He walks about a mile and finds Dean lying in a field, and Dean claims the Darkness saved him, which would be interesting and noteworthy except that Sam was in the car too, and also did not die, and there was no damage to the driver’s side that I could see.  But sure, Dean.  Whatever.  Sam has about as much patience for this as I do, which is to say, none.  Anyway, they get in the car and drive away after vowing to stop the Darkness.

Castiel is hiding in a barn, and he keeps flashing to killing Crowley.  At first I thought he was sad that Crowley was dead, but then Cas realizes that Crowley smoked out of his vessel and is still alive.  Rowena’s attack dog spell kicks in again.

The barn is owned by Jim Bob, John Boy, and Bubba.  I mean, we don’t get their names, I’m just assuming.  They find a dead dog, or maybe they shot the dog, I have no idea.  Maybe Cas killed the dog?  I hope Cas didn’t kill the dog.

I…don’t know why I’m obsessing over this.  It’s a second, if that, of time.  It’s never mentioned again.

So!  John Boy finds Cas, and Cas tells him to run.  Then Cas runs away when Jim Bob and Bubba get there and start shooting at him.  That seems like an extreme reaction, but then again, we are talking about guys named Jim Bob, John Boy, and Bubba.

Cas has kind of a funny run.  Isn’t the actor a marathoner?  Is that how he runs?  I know that’s a little mean but hee!  Okay, that’s probably not really how he runs.

Now, to Crowley.  Cas tries to kill him and Crowley smokes out of his vessel.  He ends up in a suburban mom and has a foursome with the lady’s husband and their best couple friends, because it’s the lady’s birthday or something and #yolo.  Then he kills the orgyfolks, so that he can call his demons.  That’s pretty much his storyline for the episode.  The lady vessel did a pretty good job of acting like Mark Sheppard, and it was kind of funny.  Oh, and another thing.  When they’re back in hell (and he’s Mark Sheppard again), his henchdemons tell him about the Darkness, which he’s not all that worried about.  But then they mention something happened to the Cage, which does interest him.  It’s not clear whether the Cage got rocked/damaged by the Darkness’s release, or if Michael and/or Lucifer was trying to reach out to warn them about the Darkness.  Either way, something’s up with the Cage.  And this means we’re gonna see Lucifer, right?  RIGHT?

I mean, I guess it could be Michael, but let’s be real here.  Nobody gives a shit about Michael.

Anyway, back to Cas, briefly.  He prays to his brothers and sisters for help, and two of them come for him.  They let him think they’re taking him back to Heaven, but really, they’re just going to torture him.  Dicks!

Meanwhile, Dean and Sam come across a disaster in the middle of the street, and get attacked by people acting like zombies.  They meet a young lady cop, Jenna, who orders them to take off their clothes.  Disappointingly, this is only so she can check them for zombie infection, because the zombie-people have black veins.  She’s satisfied when they show her their necks.  Personally, I would’ve made them take off more.  You know, just for verification.  Safety first, and all that.

Jenna is injured, and they take her to a nearby hospital, only to find out that it’s all Disaster Movie in there.  They decide that the Darkness is affecting the people who were outside when it escaped.  Then Dean and Sam sort of have a fight, because Sam wants to try to find a cure for the people and Dean is cool with just killing them.  Sam argues that they need to focus more on saving people, and I am really excited by that.  Remember in earlier seasons when we actually cared about the bystanders?  Like Sarah and Andrea and Lisa?  Or maybe it was just me.  But I’ve missed the tension that comes with the boys trying to fight a monster and protect the average people who got caught up in it.  Unlike the boys, the random guest stars can die (permanently), and I really miss caring about that.

During the fight, or maybe before it, Sam finds a young father with his newborn baby girl, and the mom is dead I guess, either from childbirth or the Darkness zombie sickness, I can’t remember which.  They confirm that the dad was bled on by one of the zombies, which is how they transmit the sickness.  So he’s going to die soon.  The dad asks Jenna to take care of his daughter.  Later, when he’s all rabid, he tells them to name her Amara, because (1) you couldn’t have told us that earlier, when you were sane?; and (2) that’s totally a name that freaking Midwestern, church-going people named “Mike” and “Janie” would pick for their child.  I’m going to assume that the Darkness somehow planted that suggestion in his brain.

I couldn’t tell, but it sounds like maybe the Darkness zombie folks left the baby alone?  Maybe a clue that she was always intended to be a vessel?

If you’re curious, “Amara” is apparently of German or Greek origin, and means things like “grace,” “beloved,” and “eternal.”  At least, that’s what the internet tells me.

The other day at one of my jobs, a customer came in and I had to see her driver’s license for something.  Her first name was Amara.  No, I didn’t ask her if she’d ever seen Supernatural.  But I thought it was funny because I had literally never heard that name before.

It still would’ve been a little funny to have a villain named Mildred or something, though.  But I can see why they didn’t go in that direction.

Cas calls Dean at some point too, before getting kidnapped by his asshole brothers, and verifies that the Mark is gone.  Cas looks so, so relieved about the Mark.  Dean tries to find out where Cas is, and I can’t remember right now why he doesn’t find out.  Probably because Cas says he’s too dangerous or something.  But Dean mentions the Darkness, and Cas does know what that is, or at least has an idea.  He’s surprised the Darkness is a woman, but I don’t know why.

Dean and Sam split up at that point, Sam staying at the hospital to try and find a cure for the sickness (I don’t know how he plans to do this but I’m happy he’s trying) and Dean takes Jenna and Amara to Jenna’s grandmother’s, which is…not close.  A couple of hours, I guess?

Sam gets trapped in a closet and one of the zombie people bleeds on him, so he’s infected now.  Since we know Sam’s not going to die (permanently), I’m really more interested in how he’s going to solve this case and cure himself and the rest of the people.

Honestly, with all the doctoring and medical stuff they’ve done on this show, I think it would’ve made more sense to make Sam a pre-med student, rather than planning on law school.  It doesn’t really change anything, and it would’ve made more sense for him to have all this random medical knowledge.  Well, I guess we can’t go back now.

Sam and Dean have a phone conversation where Sam DOES NOT tell Dean he’s infected because I guess we can’t solve ALL this show’s problems in one episode.  But interestingly, he doesn’t technically lie; he just says “what do you think” when Dean asks if he’s okay, and Dean assumes he’s fine.  Dean and Jenna stop at a gas station or a truck stop so that Jenna can change Amara, and we see the Mark of Cain on the baby’s shoulder.


All in all, a very good opener.  But Supernatural is usually really good at season premieres.  “Lazarus Rising” is still my all-time favorite season opener, and maybe even episode overall.  But “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” was really good too.  When I watched this episode originally, I was more interested in how the following episodes would handle the set up we were provided here.  Remember how great “Meet the New Boss” and “Hello, Cruel World” were, setting up how scary and threatening the Leviathans were?  And then it all just sorta…fell flat and almost all the stuff that happened in those episodes didn’t matter?  Or how Season 5 started off so strong, and then the boys just fought over the Ruby thing and kind of drove around solving monster-of-the-week stuff and we were all, hello, Lucifer and the apocalypse, let’s deal with that shall we?

I’m thinking of doing a running misogyny tally.  Like a count for how many times they use the words bitch, douche, or other female-centric insults.  I will not be counting “son of a bitch” amongst this, as it’s essentially the show’s tagline at this point.  At least, not when it’s used as a frustrated outcry like Dean usually uses it.  So, for this episode we have: (1) Dean says disinfecting Jenna’s wound is going to “hurt like a son of a bitch”; and (2) Sam calls the infected “sons of bitches” when he’s taunting them to chase him.

Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t more.  I’m also surprised that Crowley didn’t make the list, considering they chatted about Rowena during his plotline.

I’ll be back soon with “Form and Void”!


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