WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY COMES…( A Review of “Advanced Thanatology”)

Once again, Supernatural followed a ‘Monster of the Week’ pattern, all because it was a means to an end…and what an end! We began this week right with the “Then” and “Now” clips as usual. I wondered why we were seeing so many of Dean’s various deaths, and the killings of “Death” and reaper Billie, wondering if we were going to see one of them as a cliffhanger in the episode. Turns out we saw both!  The “monster of the week’ portion begins with what we’ve witnessed many times: a couple of kids with a camcorder who dare to enter an abandoned area where a demented ghost, (this time, Dr Avery Meadows) operated on tortured patients with a power drill! He also had an attachment to these creepy bird-like masks, (Plague Masks) one of which is placed in the kids’ back pack. (We knew that couldn’t be good!) MonsterMeadowsAnyway, the good Dr. made his appearance and kills one of the boys with a drill to the head before he can escape. Our survivor, Shaun gets away, but not without major psychological trauma!

Anyway, Sam and Dean get wind of this one, and Sam is overkill in the nice department to his big brother, offering him beer with his breakfast, and when they arrive in Grand Junction, Colorado, offering to accompany Dean to a strip club (Which isn’t Sam’s thing at all!) We learn it’s all because Sam is trying to help Dean have a more positive outlook. Dean insists he’ll dig himself out of his funk. He just “needs a win!” Of course, plenty of booze will be a big help! These were those goofy moments that make this show so special.

Dean and Sam meanwhile go to the home of Shaun, who is eventually attacked and kidnapped by the doc ghost!  We later learn that this ghost has to be attached to something, because when authorities found out what he was doing to patients, he was tried, executed and cremated back in the day! I personally love the way that ghost-fighting has been rendered routine by our veteran heroes. Sam and Dean go to the house looking for Shaun, and easily dispatch of Dr. Meadows by burning the masks…but way too much time remains in the episode!  supernatural-season-13-episode-5-review-advanced-thanatology

Our boys are still breathing cold air, and apparently, the ghost patients are restless because the doctor has ‘left the building.’ We learn that the ghosts aren’t powerful enough to break the vale, but are doing loads of property damage! (Same way Dr Meadows blew away the salt ring I guess.) Dean then gets the brilliant (NOT) idea to kill himself temporarily, as in previous episodes, to get to the vale and find out where the bodies of these poor souls are so they can move on! He takes his personal death kit and proceeds to stab himself in the heart with the medical mix. Boom! Dean is dead. AGAIN! This is where the brilliance comes for me!

He is in the vale, but the only person who talks to him is a reaper named Jessica who is trying to get the lobotomized ghosts on the train to the next plane! She recognizes Dean, and goes to a big charcoal grey filing chamber to announce, “Dean Winchester is in the vale!” but, while there,  no one talks to him, except Shaun, who remembers him from their talk at his house. Dean assures him that everything will be fine, but Shaun can’t return home since he is indeed dead, after being possessed by Dr Meadows and forced to give himself a head-drilling!

Sam meanwhile gives Dean the heart re-start mix, but it isn’t working. Then, vale-Dean hears a familiar voice! DeathBillieIt’s Billie, back from the dead? We all know what she told Dean she would do with him the next time he died. She would throw him deep into the empty! But damn! We just saw Cass escape that! We can’t have Dean go right back to it, can we?

So basically, Billie WAS dead: Killed by Cass, but we learn she was the first reaper to die after Dean murdered “Death,” so she assumed Death’s duties, white horseman ring and all! Billie wants to know one thing. How is Dean slipping between worlds into an alternate universe? Dean offers a deal, the release of all the ghosts in the Meadows’ house in exchange for the secret, which Billie-Death seems to be out of the loop on.  Billie agrees, and Dean admits Jack’s birth caused the rip and passage into both worlds. Billie says all this is delicate stuff, and she can’t have a “big, dumb, Winchester” going in and knocking it all down! That’s why she had to know.

We learn here that as usual, Dean feels that he has let everyone down. He is carrying way too much of the burden to save everybody! He couldn’t save his mom, Cass, or even the kid Shaun in this monster hunt. He thinks he’s even holding Sam back. Billie couldn’t really care less, but she has a bigger job now, and realizes there are protocols in place that make her have to put her intense dislike of the Winchesters aside because they, “have work to do.” So instead of throwing Dean deeper into the empty, as she promised, Billie explains all the books on her shelf that have Dean dying in a number of different ways, “But not today!” Dean is thrown back into his body with no apparent brain damage after several minutes of ‘being dead!’ He awakes just as he’s asking the question about the fate of his mom. DAMN!

(A side note here! I find Billie deliciously sexy, curvy and smart. She’s the perfect death for me!) Back to the show now! Dean confesses to Sam that he’s still not cool with all of this failure: and for what grand purpose? He tells Sam about seeing Death and the message that they have ‘work to do.’ Sam and Dean drive towards home, when Dean gets a phone call. The look on his face says it all. IT’S GOTTA BE CASS!” We see the Impala pull into an ally, and low and behold, our favorite human sympathizing angel is there, standing next to a phone booth. (They still make those?)  Cass turns around and is back again! Back from the Empty!

My questions: How much has Cass changed, if at all? What was Death talking about when she spoke of the work the Winchesters have yet to do? Will Dean immediately be lifted out of his funk now that Cass is back? Will Cass remember the Empty? Will he remember his assignment regarding Jack? Will the crew put 2 and 2 together and realize Jack’s power awoke Cass? This week showed the deft movement of the storyline from the routine to the brilliance of depth that is the newness evolving in all the major players. My review would have been half as long if it just dealt with Dr. Meadows. But this show is my favorite because it always offers so much more! What do you think? (Photos: The CW and Supernatural. All rights reserved.)


Eric YankerNatural Clemons


2 thoughts on “WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY COMES…( A Review of “Advanced Thanatology”)

  1. This is another definite reference that Dean is suicidal. In Red Meat he didn’t care if he came back or not, just as long as he could save Sam.

    In this one he’s actually got his death kit with him. He’s put a lot of thought and preparation into having it on his person when going into a fairly routine ghost hunt, so it’s now clearly part of his normal hunting kit.

    This goes back to where he had this done by experts in a dodgy medical clinic back room in season 6 to ask Death to rescue Sam’s soul from the cage. And even further back to season 2 where he had survivor’s guilt and a resulting death wish over being alive in exchange for his father’s life.

    Dean’s sense of responsibility for everyone and everything bypasses completely by the fact that in all cases it wasn’t his own choice or actions that kept him alive at the cost of others. John made the decision to die instead of Dean without Dean’s consent or knowledge.

    I guess it starts in 1×12 Faith, where unbeknownst to Dean his life gets saved at the cost of an innocent person by a reaper who was chained up through dark magic by an evil woman (they never said she was a witch, but it was clearly witchcraft she was practicing).

    All I can say is that Dean’s clearly reached the end of his tether where survival is concerned. He’s quite happy to give up his life to save ghosts of good people and have them released from the veil and go to heaven. He never gave a thought to his own life.

    There’s no end of tears one should cry for Dean. And rarely it gets articulated how much he’s given up for the greater good and for his family.


    1. Great points here… Dean has certainly always been willing to take one for the team! While he has always been willing to give himself up
      for the betterment of others, he has always felt a lack of ‘appreciation’ for his efforts. He has lost so much. He’s at a place now where he doesn’t recognize all that have benefited from his work, or the fact that Amara gave him his mother back! (Well, he thinks she’s dead.) I hope he learns to recognize many of these occurrences were indeed his destiny! He seems to have definitely chilled about some things, but now, let’s see how he comes out of this funk!

      Liked by 1 person

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