Supernatural: Advanced Thanatology

"I'm not okay. I'm pretty far from okay."

"Thanatology" is the study of death. A fitting title for this particular episode.

While the homicidal lobotomizing-with-a-drill ghost of Dr. Meadows was creepy and vicious, this particular hunt was mostly tragic and sad. Early on, Dean told young Shawn that he knew what it was like to see the monsters every time he closed his eyes, but that he and Sam could stop the monsters. It was just too bad that Shawn was too traumatized. If he'd been able to talk to Dean about his experience, they would have probably been able to save his life. At least Shawn made it to the afterlife because of Dean's sacrifice, although his devastated mother Penny will never know how close her son came to decades or even centuries of misery.

Yes, the Winchesters have died so very many times before that they're nearly casual about it, but Dean was way too eager to kill himself in order to question those ghosts. He was suicidal because losing Mary and Castiel at the same time was too much for him. Gold acting stars for Jensen Ackles, who always makes me love Dean, for making me love him even more than I usually do. I particularly loved his sober, sacrificial and practical reaction to Billie's ascension.


Let me pause to do a little rah rah. Billie is back! And with a whole new look: black outfit, white ring, shorter hair, her very own scythe. Honestly, and I know I've mentioned it several times before, there just aren't many women named Billie and I loved that there was a Billie on my favorite show, even though she was constantly making ugly threats toward Dean. I was unhappy when Castiel killed Billie, even though it made plot sense.

So now we know how the original Death, played by the much missed Julian Richings, got his job: he must have been a reaper who got killed... even though I'd gotten the impression that Death had been around forever, longer than Chuck and Amara. Maybe he was referring to the job of Death, not its current occupant. Whatever. What I like even more than her return is that Billie's new job description forced her to give Dean some badly needed slack. Dean has his very own shelf in Death's black reading room, and none of those many black books of possible death said that Dean was supposed to die that day. Billie is all about the big picture now. I'm good with that.

When Dean initially realized what the circumstances were, he didn't even bother to ask Billie for clemency for himself. In exchange for answering Billie's question about Mad Max world, all he asked in return was freedom for the trapped ghosts in the Meadows house.

So it was lovely that, just when Dean thought it was all over for him, he finally got the win that he needed. I loved Castiel waiting for Dean at that phone booth, with the white neon cross we've seen before reflecting off the black body of the Impala. It was just beautiful; not a word needed to be spoken. There was some theorizing in the comments on my review of last week's episode that it wasn't Castiel who came back from the Big Empty, but the doppelganger. I doubt somehow that the doppelganger has Dean's phone number.

Despite the sad theme, there were a lot of lovely moments in this episode – not just the perfect little ending with Castiel. It was utterly adorable that Sam was so worried about Dean's depression that he gave him strip clubs and chili fries, as well as a hunting trip with just the two of them. When Sam's alarm clock woke him, he found Dean snoring on the floor with a pink bra wrapped around his neck and his necktie tied around his forehead like a ninja. (It's almost too bad that we didn't get to see how Dean ended up that way.) I also loved a hungover Dean dropping a piece of bacon on his clothes, looking around to see if anyone had noticed, and eating it anyway. There's a reason why they give Jensen Ackles the eating scenes.

And we also got pretty Impala road trip shots set to Steppenwolf's "It's Never Too Late." Can't be bad.

Bits:

-- The opening scene with the queasy-cam and two kids was a lot longer than usual.

-- Lisa Berry's credit was at the end so that we'd be surprised to see her.

-- New character Jessica the reaper ran to Billie immediately to tell her Dean was in the veil. But instead of just being a tattletale, she got to gently reap all of the souls at the Meadows house. Very nice.

-- No Jack in this episode.

-- How about that cool shot of the ghost stuck halfway through the door because of the salt?

-- This week: Grand Junction, Colorado, the Royal Towers Hotel, and the "Old Meadows place on Night Hawk Drive." That place looked so familiar. How many times have they shot there? And hey, every town should have a Night Hawk Drive.

-- Dean and Sam were agents Page and Plant. Sam let Dean be Agent Page this time.

-- I have to squeeze in one more photo. How about Sam's hair in this one?



Quotes:

Dean: "What about Jack?"
Sam: "He's catching up on all my old fantasy DVDs, Red Sonja, Beastmaster, Beastmaster Two, you know, the one with the time traveling ferrets..."
Dean: "Yeah. Wow. How you ever got laid, I'll never know."

Sam: "So. Strip club?"
Dean: "Wait. Sorry, what?"
Sam: "Strip club. There's one just outside of town. The, uh, Clam Diver."
Dean: "You want to go to the Clam Diver?"
Sam: "Yeah. It... it got great reviews."
Dean: "You read reviews of the Clam Diver?"
Loved Dean's disbelief and Sam's discomfort. Too funny.

Dean: "Dude, the last lap dance you had was at Christmas, it was a gift paid for by me. You spent the entire song trying to convince the girl that she should go to nursing school."

Dean: "I’ve been down this road before and I fought my way back. I will fight my way back again."
Sam: "How?"
Dean: "The same way I always do: bullets, bacon and booze. A lot of booze."

Dean: "I saw Cas kill you."
Billie: "How's that working out for him? (laughs) It's funny to hear a Winchester talk about the finality of dying."
Did Billie have something to do with Castiel's escape from the Empty? The Winchesters are important, after all, and they do need him...

Dean: "So you died to become Death."
Billie: "This universe can be so many things. And sometimes it is poetic."

Billie: "This whole multiversal quantum construct we live in, it's like a house of cards. And the last thing I need is some big dumb Winchester knocking it all down."
Dean: "That does sound like us."

Dean: "I saw Death. The Death."
Sam: "He's dead."
Dean: "No, she's not."

I thought this was a strong, moving episode. Three out of four hangover raids on the continental breakfast,

Billie
---
Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.

10 comments:

Dragonfire said...

As regarding Death: I felt like Julian Riching's Death was the original Death, the incarnation that'd been around since before Chuck and Amara, and he'd just never been killed before. Sure, there was that failsafe in place to keep someone continuously in the job, but it'd just never applied before because Who the hell would kill Death? Only a Winchester, that's who.

Anonymous said...

"queasy-cam" A perfect name. Hey, directors, could we stop with that, please? I don't even want to bother watching when they do this, and when they do, they always over do it. If I wanted to watch teens making bad films, I'd let them hold the camera at family events.

I like the character Billie all right, but I still don't think she can hold a candle to Julian Riching. However, as we don't have him, Billie is a fine Death. (And I seriously don't think that they should reincarnate him.)

The writing was good, (the whole chili-fries-researching-strip-clubs thing was great fun and cheerfully touching) but I'm just not getting drawn into the show. That breaks my heart; the actors are wonderfully charismatic, but the current story arc is simply not grabbing me. I feel like they don't know what to do with Lucifer's son.

I'm hoping that they will do another show with some humor -- (the Christmas episode comes to mind, or the one with the Fates) because the actors each do humor well.

Thanks for the sounding board!

Nicole said...

The empty read/downloaded all of castiels thoughts so it could be the empty

Chatter said...

Wow i was not expecting Billie to be the new Death, that was cool and Dean got the victory that he wants at the very end ;)

Anonymous said...

(another anon in reply to anon 1)
I think if the writers know one thing about the show they know what they are going to do with Jack. Personally I am sorry for him in advance. Smells like sacrifice to me, though would be happy to be wrong here. As Sam once put it - very long ago - there is no way out,and there is no getting home.

Billie Doux said...

It's possible I'm simply having an emotional response to the possibility that Castiel isn't Castiel. Just the expression on his face when the Winchesters arrived at the phone booth made me think it had to be him.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

I don't understand why the Big Empty would go to Earth in place of Castiel, all he wanted was to sleep.

TheShadowKnows said...

"I don't understand why the Big Empty would go to Earth in place of Castiel, all he wanted was to sleep."

I don't either TBQH, but OTOH I'm sure the writers could contrive something if they wanted to pull a fakeout (for example, maybe it wants to exterminate all life here so that nothing ever comes to disturb its rest again).

Even if Castiel isn't a Castelganger, I'm sure we're going to see Evil Cas again, one way or another. The show wouldn't have introduced the character just to appear briefly in one episode.

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, I bet that, now that he's been introduced, we'll see Evil Cas again somewhere, somehow. :)

Patryk said...

I like episodes that look like cases of the week that turn into arc important ones. Too bad we got the entire rundown of previously on that was about Death, Billie etc. Kinda ruined the suprise.