I have complicated feelings about Season Nine. I think it’s a strong season- but it isn’t a favourite. The angelic beaurocracy felt to me like a drag after Season Eight, and Cas’s arc began to get a little cutesy for my taste. But I think the massive argument between Sam and Dean is wonderfully done. I don’t care that other people were annoyed by it. Yeah, guys, it’s repetitive- of course it is. That’s people for you. You want realistic character development? Because it doesn’t get much better than the Winchesters’ one-step-forward-two-steps-back routine.
1. Slumber Party
As often happens with me, it took until my third watch to warm to this episode. But it’s in the vein of classic SPN- the lovely black-and-white flashbacks, the Winchesters and Charlie watching Game Of Thrones, the AC/DC. I believe it’s also the only episode that stays completely in one place. Charlie and Dorothy enter Oz without leaving the bunker. Charlie dies without leaving the bunker. Etc. Very clever. Wrote a meta comparing it to Playthings here.
Also, this episode only works its magic when watched in HD. Some things are funny like that. Take a look at the unused title card-
I actually wish they’d used it. Oh well. By the way, I love the Season Nine card. It might be my favourite.
2. Road Trip
Much Gadreel. I love Gadreel. And was that a Macbeth reference with him trying to wash the blood from his hands? JP is so good here. I actually caught myself wondering who played Gadreel!Sam. Gadreel is so utterly alien, so detatched from Sam himself, that I couldn’t even connect him with the actor. And JA, too, with Dean unable to watch as Gadreel/Sam is tortured. The whole scene inside Sam’s head is a highlight- with this lovely sepia old-newspaper tint- and weirdly funny too. I mean- really, Sam, you’re shot in the chest and you make that face?
I also feel like I should discuss the scene with Sam breathing streams of smoke everywhere, but frankly it’s too early in the morning for phallic metaphors.
3. Do You Believe In Miracles
The reason this is number three is because, while the last few scenes could not have been better, I liked the other two episodes more. That’s it. But the death scene here is gut-wrenching. Dean’s tenderness. ‘I’m proud of us.’ Sam sobbing, cradling his head (and JP is the MASTER of ugly crying- it makes me feel like I’m invading just watching). Plus Can’t Find My Way home is the perfect music cue. Sam drinking in the bunker in the dark. Dean flicking open his demony eyes. Wow. Wrote a meta comparing the death scene to ABHL here.
And then we have Tamoh Penikett- he and JP did such great work creating Gadreel. I have no problem believing that it’s the same character in different bodies.
4. Devil May Care
I love this little episode to bits. ‘I’m Kevin frickin’ solo.’ Osric Chau is incredibly talented. I don’t even know how many times I pressed rewind. And more appreciation for JP’s portrayal of Gadreel- he plays him with total sincerity. You’d never guess that Gadreel is untrustworthy from JP’s acting. He seems grave and sad and untouchable. Then Sam surfaces and suddenly (kudos to JA for this) Dean’s protective mode is activated. Jared can turn Sam’s vulnerability on and off (and we see much the same thing with Demon Dean later).
The scene between Dean and Abaddon is so great. A perfect example of a monster latching onto Dean’s sexual agenda and turning it against him, and JA plays the hell out of it. And Abaddon! We could really do with a few more badass demons.
And then there’s the raggedy wing-spreading. One of those scenes that’s in every fanvid. And Crowley in the trunk? Dying.
5. Mother’s Little Helper
It took me ages to decide between this, First Born and Blade Runners for the fifth spot. Eventually this won for sheer prettiness. Misha directed it, taking a lot of cues from the sadly long-dead Kim Manners, and it’s full of close-ups and cross-hatched shadows. Also, Alaina Huffman as Josie, saving Henry. Heartcrack. I read a review once where the writer bitched about it being sexist that the woman always has to sacrifice her life- like, seriously? Are you kidding me?
But it’s also a very healing episode. There are soulless Sam flashbacks. It’s the last chapter in that arc, really. The scene where Sam lets the souls go? Beautiful. Wrote about the soulless arc here. Also, random trivia: Dean followed Sam to the town where he worked the case. The town was called Milton. The bar Dean hung out in was called the Milton. Work it out.
First Born. Timothy Omudson is the only person to come close to beating JP in the hair game. The scene where Dean fights three demons? Just. Wow. And Sastiel bonding. Like. Are you guys trying to kill me. Wrote about that here.
Blade Runners. Seriously, people need to stop bitching about Buckner & Leming. True, they’ve written some awful episodes (hey there, Paint It Black) but sometimes they come up with something and it is genius. Like this. Sam and Dean intervening with junkie Crowley, stealing from vending machines? It doesn’t get much better.
The Purge. This whole episode. Dean with icing sugar all round his mouth. Sam’s speech (I’m on the it-was-totally-justified team). And Donna! Love this lady. Will be discussing her more with the Season Ten article.
Dog Dean Afternoon, which has to take the prize for being the all-out silliest episode of anything, ever, possibly drawing with The X-Files’ Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”. Oh, except for French Mistake, of course. JA’s doggy behaviour. So funny. So stupid.
Meta Fiction. I love the music cue at the end, with the Cas montage. And the Dean-shower closeup is probably the second-greatest shot in the whole season.
Rock And A Hard place, which I’m including for stubbornness’s sake. I like the flashy blue light and I like Carmelita (it was Carmelita, right, or did I just make that up?) and I love Jody so much it hurts. Like, she is basically my role model.
Alex Annie Alexis Ann. What’s with Sam recovering so quickly from near-exanguination, writers? But otherwise this is a really interesting episode. The Winchester parallels here. Dear god. And Dean’s decidedly unprotective behaviour. Nasty. JA is brutal and wonderful. Also: Jody and Sam. Kill me now. It’s too much loveliness.
Anyway, leave a comment, blah blah, tell me your top five and we can discuss. This was a controversial season, and I’d like to hear you guys’ thoughts. I’ll try and have Season Ten up in a few days. Meanwhile, who’s excited for Form And Void? I just watched the CRCR promo. It seems Sam does a lot of fainting. Shocker.
Read my Vivisecting Supernatural essays at https://cobwebqueen.wordpress.com/tag/vivisecting-supernatural/.