Supernatural: Form and Void

“I’m gonna fix this.”

I’ve been really digging the Walking Dead vibe of the first two episodes. Combining the claustrophobic feeling of “Croatoan,” one of Supernatural’s all-time greatest episodes, and the eerie, post-apocalyptic stillness of TWD did wonders for a show that, the past season or two at least, has felt more than a little stale.

The episode fixed a long-standing issue with the show as well. The Winchesters die frequently verging on often. Fans don’t panic because, well, this happens all the time. One of them dies, the other does something stupid to bring them back, generally unleashing something evil that becomes the foe for the next season. With Death dead, that’s no longer the case according to Billie the reaper. If they die, they’re dead. Stakes successfully upped.

Hannah popped up to do something similar. The Darkness is bad. Like, really bad. Very bad. Super bad. So bad and so ancient, angels didn’t believe it really existed. Alarm bells are going off in heaven and in hell. This is serious business. If the Winchesters don’t find a way to defeat the Darkness, everyone ever dies, the end. Raising the danger level to apocalypse is another way of making the audience care about what’s going on because this could be it. It’s not a bunch of Leviathans aiming for world domination or an internal power struggle in heaven or Dean exceeding usual levels of grumpy and occasionally going all psycho spree killer. It’s the apocalypse. Again. I’m not going to complain. Season five was without a doubt my favorite and one of the show’s best so let’s see where this takes us.

Another interesting thing about the episode was its fast pace, which I was not expecting. Sam’s infection spreading so quickly and its cure, Jenna and her grandma realizing there was something up with the baby (not to mention both of them dying)…I wasn’t expecting so much plot development so quickly. I think it’s a good sign for the season. It means the writers know where they’re going. At least I hope it does.

The weakness of “Form and Void” came in keeping the boys separate. I don’t like them apart. Castiel, being tortured in heaven, Sam, Nancy Drewing on a computer and trying not to die, and Dean falling into his buddy cop routine with Crowley. Okay, so the last part of that I didn’t mind. Crowley is at his best when playing off one or both of the Winchesters. I laughed out loud when he showed up as a priest of all things.

Supernatural just can’t stay away from the creepy child thing. Amara is now out of the crib and walking around in some of Lilith’s hand-me-downs. She eats souls because, of course she does. While I like that we’re facing another apocalypse, I’m not totally sold on Amara. She feels like a character we’ve seen before. Still, she is different in at least one way: Dean can’t kill her. For whatever misty magical reason the two are bound and he will feel himself obligated to protect her. That’s going to be an interesting hurdle to overcome. Will it be as simple as Sam being the one to kill her instead of Dean or will Dean end up choosing her over Sam the way Sam once did with Ruby?

I’m not sure at all what’s going on with Castiel’s curse thing other than it makes him look creepy. Hannah said she couldn’t heal him but she was interrogating him at the time so that might’ve been a lie. Is it just making him go all Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde? Is that why he killed Jonah and Efram? He seemed in control of himself at the time but afterwards he had that “what have I done” look on his face. Cas is my favorite non-Winchester character and I like that he’s being used more, but I sure have missed him being with Sam and Dean. Not to mention that I’ve found all the angelic drama over the past few seasons truly dull. The reason for keeping him away from the boys was that his powers made everything too easy, but since he’s been diminished by heaven’s closure, the loss of his grace, and now by this curse, I hardly think that’s an issue at this point.

Bits and Pieces:

-- Other things that happened in this episode: Hannah reappeared only to die. Always worry about beloved recurring characters popping back up after long periods of time. They are rarely long for this world. I never quite warmed to Hannah, but I know she had her fans so, condolences to you all.

-- Sam, being the brilliant (not so) little stud muffin that he is, figured out how to cure whatever kind of crazy the Darkness unleashed. Burning holy oil. Good thing the boys keep a supply handy.

-- The song Billie sings, “O Death,” was first heard in the season five episode “Two Minutes to Midnight” during Death’s first appearance.

-- Sam asked God for a sign and got a vision/memory of being back in the cage. Hmm…

-- I’m trying to avoid an angry feminist comment about how the ultimate, most ancient evil the earth has ever known is female. Whoops. Couldn’t help myself.


Jenna’s Grandma: “I mean this in the nicest possible way, but you look like poop on parade.”

Dean (answering phone): “Ghostbusters.”

Sam: “I’m sorry about Death.”

Billie: “It’s over.”
Sam: “What’s over?”
Billie: “You and Dean, dying and coming back again and again. The old Death thought it was funny. But now, there’s one hard, fast rule in this universe. What lives dies. So the next time you or your brother bite it, well, you’re not going to heaven or hell. One of us, and Lord I hope it’s me, we’re gonna make a mistake and toss you out into the empty. And nothing comes back from that.”

Hannah: “God help us.”
Castiel: “I wouldn’t count on that.”

Crowley: “Well, hello plot twist.”

Dean: “Listen, Velma, this isn’t the Scooby gang.”

Crowley: “I’m not your bloody sidekick!”

three out of four creepy children
sunbunny, who is not Billie Doux


Juliette said...

I loved Sam praying for a sign, actually getting one (since the existence of God isn't really a doubt in the Supernatural universe, even if He doesn't always get involved in stuff) and then screaming in despair 'what does that mean?!' Loved Crowley as a priest too.

I was pissed that Hannah died, I liked her a lot, and the show really needs to find a new way to up the stakes other than killing anyone who isn't Sam or Dean (and, sometimes, Sam or Dean). I also like Billie's threat, but I hope that they're leading up to a conclusion at the end of this season (the last, surely?!) in which Sam and Dean somehow get to Heaven (God seems pretty fond of them). Cas too, of course. (I'm also hoping there's an episode this season where Bobby gets a heavenly trial a la Powell and Pressburger classic A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven).

Totally see your point on Amara being female. You'd have thought the ultimate Darkness would be non-gender-specific, but no, the show just killed off its only non-binary character (not counting Rafael, who also switched between male and female hosts, but wasn't so likeable! And not counting brief gender switches for practical reasons, like Crowley last week or Meg in Sam's body).

Billie Doux said...

Interesting episode. I liked the use of the holy oil, which they set up in the last episode by taking it out of the car. I was sad to see Hannah go, mostly because of how upset it made Castiel. And I was also happy (sort of) with the dying reset, because like the boys leaving off the 'saving people' part of 'saving people, hunting things', it's been bugging me for awhile. The Empty. Doesn't sound good. Since we've seen heaven, hell and purgatory, what do you want to bet that we see the Empty, too?

Terrific review, sunbunny. :) And hey. A character named Billie on Supernatural on a week when I'm not reviewing it. Coincidence? I think not!

Laure Mack said...

Great review, sunbunny. I was curious to see if I'd enjoy reading a Supernatural review written by someone other than Billie. Unsurprisingly, you hit it out of the park.

Suddenly, Deaths death makes a little sense. The writers knew they needed a dying reset button and they found it. It makes sense, it gels, it was necessary, I approve.

Anonymous said...

I liked this ep a lot. It's about time they put a halt to Sam and Dean being able to cheat Death. I wonder if the Empty is anything like Purgatory? Sam's cryptic vision should lead to some fascinating plot twists down the line. I sure hope he tells Dean about them. Again, we lose a female character! (RIP, Hannah) Will it ever stop? Cas looks like hell. I sure hope they find a way to cure him. That body is undergoing serious torture these days. I loved Sam praying, Crowley showing up as a priest, and Dean learning he can't beat Amara. We've got yet another evil girl-child! I'm enjoying this season 11 reboot and look forward to see what happens next. And as much as I love this show, I do think this should be the final season. I don't want to see the quality go down and wish it had left the air sooner. Love, Robin

Martin Sanders said...

"The Winchesters die frequently verging on often. Fans don’t panic because, well, this happens all the time. "

I don't know why people keep saying that when the fact is that it has happened just once since season 5. Dean came back from the Dead due to the MoC and I really doubt any reaper could've done anything about it. Apart from that, the boys haven't been dying and coming back.

If you are talking on a meta-level - that because it happened 2-3 times before season 6, death has lost its meaning - then Billie's warning does little to reassure me. Writers don't have a show without Sam or Dean - so if they write a story where either of them dies, then he would be brought back and to hell with the "empty".

"If the Winchesters don’t find a way to defeat the Darkness, everyone ever dies, the end. Raising the danger level to apocalypse is another way of making the audience care about what’s going on because this could be it."

I'm not seeing defcon Apocalypse yet. Sure, alarm bells are going off everywhere and anyone who knows anything about it is freaking out, but so far, I've seen no reason to be alarmed or freak out. Darkness hasn't done much yet. Sure, it might be a people-infecting, soul-eating ancient amoral force, but based on what we've seen so far, there've been worse. There haven't been any devastating displays of awesome power to cut it above other villains. While we are at it, we also don't know if it actually wants to "kill everyone".

Rex Walls said...

This is an awesome, dead on review. I thought Billie Doux wrote it! Have you taken over the reins? If so, this is a great start!

However, *tear drop, I'd be sad to see Billie go, as I have been reading for years.

sunbunny said...

Rex - No need to worry, I'm just helping Billie out because she's reviewing about eleventy million shows right now. Thank you for the compliment! Being mistaken for Billie is high praise. :)

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much, Rex. I just asked sunbunny to fill in for me because as she said, eleventy million reviews to write this week, omg. And because she's filled in for me before. Plus, she is awesome.

jenallday said...

It took me a few days to get around to this episode, I'd been a bit bored with Supernatural last season, but I'm back. I laughed out loud when Crowley was the priest, I squeed when Death's song was echoing through the empty halls, and that evil baby creeped the hell out of me and I wished I'd watched the episode before dark.

And then they hinted at the cage again. Yessssss. Knock open that box and let Lucifer out to play. He was fun!

Rex Walls said...

like i said, i didnt even notice the switch! about to read your latest post now, im sure ill comment.

and Billie... your fans need warnings about these things!!