So first I must apologise for the extreme lateness of this post. Between Russian Revolution essays, Season Eleven, and screwing around on Tumblr, everything’s gotten a little out of hand.
1. Fan Fiction
Well, duh. To say that this is a meta episode doesn’t come close to describing it. It’s a lovely, melancholy catharsis, a celebration of how far we’ve come with the Winchesters- in many ways it’s a counterpart to A Very Supernatural Christmas, bookending the Samulet chronicle.
The beauty of the penultimate scene, where Dean hangs up the Samulet, can hardly be explained. It’s wistful yet completely content. There’s a different kind of poignancy here than, say, a Winchester death scene. But the whole episode has a richness of meaning that you really do have to be a devoted fan to understand; the whole thing is loaded with associations from previous years.
And in the context of everything the Winchesters have been through, and the viewers with them, Fan Fiction might actually be the most important episode of the show so far.
2. Soul Survivor
I agonised over which DD episode to pick, seriously. It was between this and Reichenbach- I really do think they’re on a level. But Soul Survivor has a sense of scale to it, even though for the most part we’re confined to the bunker.
Episodes like this are why I have no patience with people who bitch about Buckner & Leming as writers. We all know they’ve come out with a few duds, but seriously, that’s no reason to ignore their successes. Here, they know exactly what they’re about; there’s no great catharsis at the end, not like Like A Virgin, no overwhelming sense of relief that Dean is back. By now, the Winchester relationship’s too damaged to be patched up that easily, and the writers get this.
JA is brilliant in his dual role of director and demon. I agree with Barb- probably his finest directing work so far. The closeups in the dungeon are gorgeous, the chase scene Hitchcockian- and JP gives a hugely moving performance throughout. Particularly the total shock on his face when Dean swings the hammer.
3. The Werther Project
This is a great personal favourite of mine. The Purgatory sequence is beautiful and dreamlike, a huge contrast to the parchment colours of the rest of the episode (marred only by the vaguely icky MoL flashback. I mean, seriously?). I love Sam’s research montage with its delicate music- and the vast contrast posed to Dean lopping off vamp heads with rock chords blaring out. The brothers breaking into Susie’s house verges on slapstick. And then we have Rowena’s sleepy morning behaviour (same). Plus a touching bro-mo towards the end, with Dean saving Sam from self-exanguination. With bonus hair-stroking.
4. The Executioner’s Song
Probably a contender for the season’s best-looking episode, though it was a particularly handsome season. The teaser is disjointed, full of insanely close shots and that haunting long one of Cain, the lights going out as he walks down the corridor. Then there’s Cas casually torturing a demon, and the awesome shot of he and Cain among the birch trees. The climax is tremendous; Dean collapsing into Sam’s arms.
What a wonderful character Cain was. His death, very well done; the way they didn’t actually show it. The same principle applies to Charlie. Sometimes what isn’t seen has more impact than what is. Sgriccia, forever one of my favourite SPN directors even if his name is completely unspellable, knows this.
5. About A Boy
What an excellent performance by Dylan Everett. Completely believable. Funny how this- which people slammed before even seeing it as SPN ‘floundering’- turned out to be one of the best of the season. I reckon SPN should ‘flounder’ a little oftener if this is what happens. Subject for a VS meta, you think?
It’s also practically Manners-esque, cinematography-wise. The scene in the cellar, for example. And surely I’m not the only one who recognised Hansel as the tooth fairy from I Believe The Children Are Our Future.
This also contains the first reference to Sam’s time in the Cage since Season Seven, so there’s that.
-Book Of The Damned. Cas’s grace recovery scene was a high point- and the music used in it, too. And oh, gawd, they used Thin Lizzy. Someone fetch the smelling-salts.
-Reichenbach. Is that a Sherlock reference, SPN? Did you just make a Sherlock reference? I’ve written about T.J Wright’s brilliant direction of this episode here. But really, this is such an effective episode. And I feel so bad for Sam. Like. There’s the part where Cole beats the crap out of him, which is heartwrenching, the cuts to Dean attacking the bouncer making it look like he’s the one hitting his brother. And the ‘I’m here to take you home’ speech. Such touching work from Jared.
-Brother’s Keeper. Now, I have Issues with this- I love the climatic scenes enough to put it on the list, however. Plot-wise, though, the vamp case was completely unecessary. Carver, I love you, but a MoTW in a finale is a step too far. Also Crowley’s mummy issues speech. Get it away from me. However- the ‘close your eyes’ scene is moving enough to make me add this episode in anyway. I mean, JP with the OPT? Clearly so heartfelt. Same with JA- he goes from cold and hard to overprotective at the speed of light.
-Inside Man. Bobby. Weird how it’s Sam who’s had all the postmortem contact with their father-figure. Very, very sad and lovely. Comes complete with Hitchiker’s Guide references and Sastiel being badass cinnamon rolls and shooting Metatron in the knee.
-Dark Dynasty. It says so much about IMDB that this got rated lower than Bugs. For God’s sake. Just because it took a step they didn’t agree with. I love the whole thing- that Monty Python triple zoom onto the arm. Charlie’s last scenes are beautifully filmed, and what a motel. Bella, I have no idea how you can bear IMDB, but I admire your resilience. The whole damn site makes me sick.
-Ask Jeeves. ‘Nine inches.’ ‘Homosexual murderers.’ ‘I’m lactose intolerant.’ ‘I think they’re called WASPs.’ ‘I’ll check the corridor for… burlap.’ And I just. Cannot.
-Hibbing 911, because Jody and Donna are literally perfect and Donna is a ray of sunshine and MORE, CARVER, GODDAMMIT.
-Black. There’s a shot of Sam silhouetted in the doorway that I love. And the opening sequence is a great fake-out. And Demon Dean singing kareoke? *bashes keyboard*
-Angel Heart, for sunsets and wall-dividers and Claire and minigolf. And Sam getting to know his dead mother ‘in later life’.
-There’s No Place Like Home. Felicia Day kills it. Dean loses it. Sam and Charlie bond.
Anyway, c’mon, tell me your top five. Newcomers always welcome. Y’all know the drill.
Read my Vivisecting Supernatural essays here.