XI: Winchester Midseason Report Card: “So, lock and key?”

Welcome to the Winchester Brothers End of Hiatus Report. First, let me wish you a Happy New Year and my Best Wishes for 2016! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday time (sorry lkeke, I know yours could have been better) and are ready for all the great things this year has in store for you. My trusty Toshiba laptop died (farewell, sweet Shiba), and I was technologically deprived for a while, aside from an old Desktop that is 42 in dog years. My new baby, a dainty HP called Skye, arrived a couple of days ago and I celebrated with a season 11 marathon. I can finally deliver my Midseason Report Card and revisit my favorite moments of season 11!

11.01 Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire

 02 winsync by artemiskitsune

Intro : After the storm hits, Lady Darkness sweeps Dean off his feet, shows him her Mark of Cain, tells him that the two of them are bonded and lays him onto a bed of flowers (that’s one way to make your interest known…). Sam, who was left to bang his skull in the pilot-less Impala, bounces back from yet another head trauma to find his brother dozing off in the meadow. The brothers each own up to their parts in the codependent climax that was “Brother’s Keeper”. Sam insists that he alone released The Darkness: “You didn’t set her free. I set her free,” and Dean takes responsibility for killing Death. On that note, our killer duo is ready to take on whatever comes its way. Good thing because dead bodies are piling up on the side of the road, a virus in turning folks rabid at the hospital, and there’s a baby crying in a closet.

Grade: 8/10

The premiere did a good job introducing the brothers’ main arcs and storylines for the first half of the season: Dean’s bond with The Darkness and Sam’s desire to atone for unleashing her upon the world. It also gives us the first mentions of the Cage, Lucifer and Michael. There’s little fallout from the brangst of “Brother’s Keeper” as Dean doesn’t dwell on the fact that Sam went behind his back to remove the Mark. He can’t “strap on a time machine” to undo any of the mistakes that led them to this place, and he decides that, as the “lock and key” to The Darkness, it is their job to clean up this mess together.

 

11.02 Form and Void

03 bunker by sasquatchandleatherjacket

Grade: 8.5/10

The episode gives us great scenes for each brother. Dean gets to show his “maternal” side, go back-and-forth with the King of Hell, which is always enjoyable, and show off the badass when he nails Crowley to the wall with an angel blade and marches warrior-style towards Amara’s crib, Ruby’s knife in hand. Sam shows off his skills and smarts when he fashions a taser out of objects found in hardware store, and sets a trap for the Rabids with a radio. He offers an honest and vulnerable prayer in the hospital chapel, experiences his first vision of himself being tortured in the Cage, holds his own in front of the quietly threatening Billie, keeps a brave face for Dean when he’s on the phone with him, all the while being infected with the virus. The quiet and humble moment of triumph he experiences at the end when he heals all the Rabids is touching and well-deserved.

 

11.03 The Bad Seed

04 bagtoss by sasquatchandleatherjacket

Grade: 6.5/10

This one is saved by the interrogation scene at the police station, which was a 10, Rowena’s cheekiness, especially when she’s stirring the pot by bringing up the deal Sam made with her to remove the Mark, and Amara eating her way through Crowley’s staff in the middle of having deep conversations about the world. Dean’s “I have a fake badge” * wink * and the Winsync of the purse toss alone made the episode worth it. Also Dean Sharon Stoning Rowena’s imported scarf off the table with his very long legs. Hey, I love this show, and I’ll take my fun where-ever I can get it… I like to make every frame count 😉

 05 Dean tossing Rowena's scarf

 

11.04 Baby

06 hug by sasquatchandleatherjacket

Grade: 8.75/10

The iconic “Baby” is one long broment filled with references to previous episodes: the “I shot the sheriff” from “Jus In Bello”, the little green army man from “Swan Song”, the “You okay pal? You look a little spooked” from “The Song Remains the Same”, the “It’s Sam”, from “Bloody Mary”, and many more. It gave us one of the funniest hunts of the series, the monster that will not die, and countless unforgettable moments like the boys singing about their night moves to celebrate “virgin” Sam finally digging into the lore, the brothers sharing their dreams about family, and the “Jerk/Bitch” some many of us have been waiting for 84 years since “Hunted”. I have no shame admitting I’m greedy, and I would have enjoyed “Baby” even more with less Nachzehrer monologuing at the wheel and more Sam in the car hunting. Aside from the brothers, one thing I really loved was seeing Matt Cohen again. I was however, very suspicious of who he was supposed to be playing. When he told Sam, “I never could fool you, could I?”, and the lyrics to the song playing said “Going with him someday soon”, I knew it was no one good.

 

11.05 Thin Lizzie

07 BMbyBaby by habitatfordeanwinchester

Grade: 8/10

Thin Lizzie” is a fun little episode with all the makings of an old-school MOTW: the vintage “Playthings”-like feel of the supposedly haunted Bed & Breakfast, the good old EMF, the throwback lock-picking. It’s also one of the funniest episode of the first half of the season. It gives us Dean being a divo about the subpar accommodations, Sam geeking out over crime history and… bottled toilet water, quiet broments like a snack by the lake and my personal favorite, the “sensitive verbal massage” line. The episode also gives us an idea of now teen-aged Amara’s power. One of her soulless victims, babysitter turned ax murderer, Sidney, describes Amara as pure “bliss”, a goddess whose touch feels like ecstasy orgasm chocolate cake and takes away all the pain. “The Darkness is coming. It’s so peaceful…”

 

11.06 Our Little World

08 samdeanamara by itsokaysammy

Grade: 8/10

“Our Little World” gives us a lot of action in Crowley’s lair, especially the scene in which Sam neutralizes Crowley’s demonic security detail with fists and cuffs to spare the meatsuits. It gives us Winchester team work with Dean tricking Jervis (Crowley’s minion) with a recording of Crowley’s voice while Sam jumps Jervis while he’s distracted. The sparks are also flying during the Deanmara moment. Amara protects Dean from Crowley and she explains why she’s so interested in Dean. He represents her first experience of God’s creation and she’s fascinated by him. As she strokes his face, I’m reminded of the words ax murderess Sidney used to describe her touch. I don’t know if Dean’s experiencing “orgasm, ecstasy, chocolate cake” but Amara sure has him in the palm of her hand. Her power makes sense when we learn that she is the sister God sacrificed in order to create the world. The fact that Dean, who can’t seem to bring himself to hurt her, finally tries to stab her when she attacks Sam, is a comforting reminder of the strength of his bond with Sam. Speaking of Sam, he has two very clear visions of the Cage, and this action-packed episode even has something for the Crown lover that I am: Crowley admitting that for years, he was incapable of killing Dean because he was a little too fond of him.

 

11.07 Plush

 09 samdeansaltgun by yourfavoritedirector

Grade: 8/10

“Plush” brings us Sheriff Donna Hanscum and a creative twist on ghost possessions in the form of three masked killers. Evil Rabbit, Mad Jester and Evil Bozo are regular people who each put on a mask that belonged to the late Chester Johnson and ended killing the men who caused Chester’s death. The episode also brings us all the classic hunter moves: salt gun, holy water iron, and fishing in Baby’s trunk.

I call this one the prison bar episode (they were e-very-where), the one that convinced me that Sam was ending up in the Cage with Luci. The elevator scene, where he is trapped with Bloody Bozo, the personification of his fears, clearly foreshadows Sam’s upcoming encounter with Lucifer in “O Brother Where Art Thou”.

10 samintheelevatorcage by strengthcas

 

11.08 Just My Imagination

11 kitchen drama by winterchesters.

Grade:7/10

The fun and colorful episode gives us the Domestic!Winchesters in their bunker habitat and many moments of comedy like Dean defending his castle from the trespasser using martial art moves in his robe, pajama shorts and slippers. I also got a kick out Sam and Dean using the “Bert and Ernie pretext” with the same actress (Carrie Genzel) who told them that Oasis Plains accepted homeowners of every sexual orientation in season 1. Nice call back to “Bugs”. From his dramatic reactions to the Zanna to his advice to Maddie’s mom about family showers, Dean did a great job balancing the angst that surrounded Sam in the form of Sam’s sadness as a kid left alone in a motel, his conflicted emotions about the hunt, his difficult break-up with Sully and his fears about the Cage.

 

11.09 O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?

12 dean sam must be safe by winterchesters

 Grade:9/10

The midseason finale starts with the vision that turns into reality at the end of the episode: Sam is in a cage with Lucifer. I enjoyed almost every second (save for the generic angels) of “O Brother Where Art Thou”. I rolled my eyes at the burning bush as I knew these manifestations were the work of the Devil, and related to the frustration that was seeping through Dean’s comment about bushes that burned in the woods without God having a thing to do with it. I liked the return of Crowley as an ally, and Rowena was as entertaining and devious as ever. Outstanding performance by Mark Pelegrino, intense and brilliant in his return as the “Original Dark Prince”. Jared broke my heart as Sam trying to stay strong while facing his monster and the face to face between Sam and Lucifer was well worth the wait. I still like Amara. Sure, she’s killing humans left and right in an attempt to get her brother’s attention, but Emily conveys her desperation and abandonment issues very well, and I still don’t feel her evil vibe which is a good thing because I like a villain with some nuance. I let out an undignified noise when she kissed Dean because I’ve been waiting for this since the premiere. She also assured Dean that they will become one. My gutter mind wants to believe she chooses him as her consort. The show probably has something classier in mind. Either way, I can’t wait to see where the Deanmara story goes. I’m also looking forward to seeing the aftermath of Sam’s close encounter with the Devil, and hope that he is whole when he gets out of the Cage. It seems Rowena, who scolded Sam for his “plucky, stupid optimism” in “The Bad Seed”, deliberately messed with the warding in order to leave Sam without protection in front of the Devil. She’s in hot water this time, but I still hope this doesn’t get her killed.
 

SEASON 11 PART I GRADE: 8/10!

13 handsoffthewheel by sasquatchandleatherjacket 

Let’s look at all my favorite things and the one thing that didn’t work for me.

Top 3 Dean moments

The charm.

14 wink by itsokaysammy 

The comedy.

15 sensitiveverbalmassage by themegalosaurus

The badassery.

16 getamara by itsokaysammy

 

Top 3 Sam moments

The snark.

17 summerofove by themegalosaurus

The cuteness.

18 samsqueezything by themegalosaurus

The love.

19 deserveslife by acklesjensen 

 

Favorite acting moments

Jensen. Dean bespelled by Amara.

20 bespelled dean by alionaw

Jared. Sam facing Lucifer.

21 sam faces lucifer by e2harrisonwells

 

The plusses

The Darkness growing up in front of our eyes, from the little girl who wanted Uncle Crowley’s protection, to the young lady who whooped the King of Hell’s butt in his own castle.

22 amara by mooseleys

Billie : Lisa Berry entering that hospital, asking Sam, “you flirtin’ with me kid”, and filling up the entire screen with gravitas and charisma.

23 billie by lexiedewitt

Kristen Robek aka “Crowlette” stealing Mark’s thunder for one episode.

24 crowlette by timetraveldean

The sets and filmography.

25 view of crowleys lair by sasquatchandleatherjacket

From Crowley’s lair to the lake from “Thin Lizzie”, is it me or is season 11 particularly pleasing to the eye?

26 samdeanbabybythewater by habitatfordeanwinchester


The minus

 27 dean screams at sully by yourfavoritedirector

Sully didn’t work for me. I think we were supposed to see him as endearing yet flawed. He was, but upon closer examination of his relationship with Sam, the character completely falls apart. When I made my first review, I wasn’t impressed with him. I credited him for the good things like the positive affirmations about Sam’s individuality and Sam’s heroism. I also thought Sully was irresponsible and I can now say that he’s downright dangerous. He was a yes man, too busy acquiescing to Sam’s ideas, even the craziest ones, to give any kind of sound advice. What kind of idiot encourages a wide-eyed little boy to run away like being on a street corner at 4 am is a solid plan? Looks like Sam kicked him out right on time. I especially criticized Sully for encouraging Sam to jump into the Cage because * air quotes * none else has the balls. He didn’t know about the specifics of the case but he was like, oh hey, sounds like the thing to do. Go for it, Samuel. Shut up Sully. Not only did one kid get run over on Sully’s watch, but he would have delivered the other one to Lucifer with a smile. This incompetent baby faced cutie never fooled me. He’s better off in management.


Funniest moments

Sam’s EPIC side eye to Mr. Werepire when he tries and fails to make Ghoulpire happen.

28 ghoulpire side eye by my-psychic-paper

I have no words for this one.

29 dean family that showers together by winterchesters

 

The mighty Winsync

This is art in motion, people.

30 bagtoss by sasquatchandleatherjacket

I call this the “synchronized hunting machine”, and I believe they should have a theme song playing in the background when they do things like that.

31 synched hunting by sasquatchandleatherjacket

 

Favorite broments

That “then let it end!”-type brotherly love.

32 doitagain by itsokaysammy 

This one is running hair in the wind Baywatch style, that one is emerging from a spell Sleeping Beauty-style. In season 6, Balthazar compared them to Aurora and Philip. What other show on American television ever attempted something like this?

33 areyouokay by itsokaysammy

Even in the midst of a crisis, big bro knows how to make you smile.

34 giantfart by itsokaysammy

That time they played Father Knows Best.

35 dean dad voice by winterchesters

35 obedient sam by winterchesters

The serenade. Dean pointing towards Sam: “A little too tall, could use a few pounds.”    Sam to Dean: “Out on the backseat of my brother’s ’67 Chevy.” Boys :’)

36 baby by yaelstiel 

 

Final verdict

I absolutely loved the first half of season 11. Carver said it would be brother-centric, and he kept his word. Having Sam and Dean acting like brothers again makes the show that much more enjoyable to me. Their individual arcs also held my interest. While I saw the Lucifer twist coming, I enjoyed the journey through Sam’s visions and the many parallels about the Cage. We know he gets out the cage, but we don’t know what shape he will be in, and whether Lucifer manages to grab a piece of him (a promise, a deal, torture), and how the rest of Sam’s story is affected by his encounter with Lucifer. I’m also very invested in the Deanmara story and I wonder how Sam will factor into it. He’s bound to find out about the head games Amara’s playing with Dean at some point and I expect him to be very worried.

Did you enjoy the first half of season? What are your favorite/least favorite episodes, storylines, moments, characters? What are you hoping to see in the second part of the season?

Merci,

Vee

XI : Winchester Brothers Report
11.01 “We Broke It, We Bought It”
11.02 “That Giant, Crazy Fart”
11.03 “And I have a fake badge”
11.04 “We’re home”
11.05 “That whole sensitive verbal massage”
11.06 “She overpowered me, end of story”
11.07 “What do you mean, killer bunny?”
11.08 “The family that showers together”                                                                      
11.09 “If Sam’s not safe, it’s not happening.”

 Gif credits

 

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15 thoughts on “XI: Winchester Midseason Report Card: “So, lock and key?”

  1. This recap made me remember how there are so many superb moments. It all blurs during hiatus. The poorest outing is “Bad Seed” although the direction is good, the story just seemed choppy. S 11 has been better than some of the older seasons on many levels. Ready for the second half. Hope it does not disappoint. Bobby and Rufus. Wrestlmania. Bring it on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, “The Bad Seed” definitely gets the lowest grade.
      All in all, a very enjoyable first half for season 11 and most the spoilers I heard so far for the second half sound good. Looking forward to the wrestling episode (I hope someone remembers Dean was a teen wrestling champ), and the return of Rufus and also Bobby.

      Like

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