Supernatural: 99 Problems

Dean: "A whole town full of hunters? I don't know whether I should run screaming or buy a condo."

I wasn't that crazy about this one.

And it started out so well, too, with Michael Shanks and the pump truck with fire hoses full of holy water. Maybe it was just too grim. Maybe it was just that they sort of already did this episode earlier in the season. ("Good God, Y'All") And the Sacrament Lutheran Militia bore an uncomfortable resemblance to that nutsoid Christian militia that just got arrested last week. Bad timing there with the current events.

Not that this was an outright bad episode or anything. With all the collateral apocalyptic damage that has been accumulating, Dean just needed one final bit of too much to push him in Michael's direction, and a whole town going rogue because of a false prophet was what finally did it for him. As horrible as the angels are, despite his disappointment with God as a deadbeat dad, Dean is going to serve Heaven after all.

And I totally get it. Dean is emotionally exhausted and at the end of his rope. Why not say yes to Michael now and beat Lucifer while he's still in Mark Pellegrino? Michael did promise not to harm Dean's body, so win win. Except, of course, for more innocent bystanders as collateral damage. Bystanders like the entire town of Blue Earth. And my logic merry-go-round just went full circle. But if the apocalypse continues, many more innocents will go up in flames. What can Dean do? He's trapped. There's no way out but through.

(Not that I think this is the answer, since we still have five episodes to go until the season finale.)

What I liked best... no, strike that. What moved me the most wasn't the good townspeople nearly making flambé out of their neighbors in the name of righteousness, or Dean's farewell to Lisa, who was inexplicably elevated to major love interest (if they hadn't reminded us of who she was in the previews, I probably would have had trouble placing her.) It was Castiel that got to me. Dead drunk, deeply depressed, so very angry and disappointed with God. His entire identity has become a question mark. I'm actually sort of worried about him. As much as I can be worried about a fictional character, anyway.

Bits and pieces:

— What did the episode title mean? Was it because this was the 99th episode, and the next is their 100th? Maybe they just didn't want to call the episode "The Whore of Babylon."

— Castiel got blindingly drunk, while Dean finally stopped drinking. Interesting symmetry there.

— Castiel knows the names of all the prophets. I think we knew that already in reference to Chuck, but after five seasons, it's hard to remember all the details.

— This week, Blue Earth, Minnesota, and Uncle Erv's Green Valley Motel. The motel had a weird Western decor and huge wall murals of green hills and blue skies. Green Valley. Paradise, I assume?

— And speaking of details, Sandy on the SPN on Topic discussion list pointed out that Blue Earth, Minnesota was the home of Pastor Jim, who was also a hunter and had quite an armory. I didn't remember that. Did the writers intend to mention Pastor Jim and just forget? http://www.douxreviews.com/2002/04/supernatural-salvation.html

— Lisa and Ben were in the season three episode, "The Kids are Alright." There has never been anything since to suggest that Lisa was the love of Dean's life. If Jo had still been alive, I would have believed him going to her.

— I didn't remember much about the Whore of Babylon, so I did a Google search and a certain politician's name came up right away. Hilarious. I'm not going to say who; do the search yourself and see.

— Gold acting stars for Jensen Ackles. He's always so good, but he was just excellent in the scene where he asked Leah about paradise, and when he said goodbye to Lisa. Loved Misha Collins' work in this one, too.

Quotes:

Sam: "No drinking, no gambling, no premarital sex? Dean, they basically just outlawed ninety percent of your personality."

Sam: "What the hell happened to you?"
Castiel: "I found a liquor store."
Sam: "And?"
Castiel: "And I drank it."

Dean: "The Enochian exorcism?"
Castiel: "Fake. It actually means, 'you breed with the mouth of a goat'. (Dean looks at him) It's funnier in Enochian."
I was wondering about that four-word exorcism. Too easy.

Dean: "How do we go pimp of Babylon all over this bitch?"

Castiel: "The whore can only be killed by a true servant of heaven."
Dean: "Servant? Like..."
Castiel: "Not you. Or me. Sam, of course, is an abomination."
Too funny.

Dean: "On a good day, you get to kill a whore." Wow. Harsh.

All of the elements for a good episode were there, but it didn't quite jell for me. Two out of four Babylonian whores,

Billie
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Billie Doux adores Supernatural which is a good thing since apparently, it's eternal.

16 comments:

Eliza J said...

I always enjoy your reviews, Billie. I'm a huge Supernatural and Chuck fan, and I look forward to reading about them almost as much as the episodes themselves.

I just want to mention something that I really loved (you got most of the other great stuff)... I loved Cas's phone message. Maybe it was because it reminded me of the other phone quote, "This isn't funny Dean, I'm almost out of minutes." One of my favorite Cas moments ever, it made me laugh out loud. I loved them both, but I especially enjoyed Sam's expression while listening to it. Castiel's drunk scene was definitely funny, but I just hope this isn't a step towards "hippy Cas." I really prefer confused Cas. Or sad Cas. His trouble with his Father was very touching indeed. Sorry, enough talk of Castiel.

About the episode overall - I wasn't that impressed. It wasn't bad, just not great. I felt like we'd been through this kind of thing before, and there wasn't much added to the main storylines.

The end got really rushed, too. I was waiting for an explanation about how Dean could kill the whore when he wasn't a true servant of heaven. Instead, they took the last five minutes and devoted them to a strange conversation with a woman we haven't seen for 2 seasons. It might have worked if they had led up to it better, but I was definitely disappointed. I agree with you, Jo would have been a better choice if she was still among the living.

I know this is a bit backwards, but another part I had a bit of a problem with was Father Gideon's immediate acceptance of Castiel as an angel and his daughter as a monster. I think more time should have been spent convincing him. After all, he agreed to kill her on the word of 2 strangers and a man he couldn't have been completely sure was an angel. The only thing Cas did was teleport the man and say, "I'm an Angel of the Lord." You would think the Father would have been a bit more cautious, considering the demons attacking the town and all.

There have been some really great episodes this season (I <3 Changing Channels so much), and whenever I watch, I expect so much. Probably too much. I'll still keep watching, of course, if only to see what happens to Cas, Gabriel, and Chuck. Obviously, I like the comedy. :)

Wow, that is way more than I mean't to write.

Josie Kafka said...

Poor Dean. Poor Sam. Poor Castiel. Poor us! Only five episodes left?

I've been enjoying the show a bit less, now that I'm watching it live (not in a mad DVD marathon, that is). The episodes have been good--it's not that. But they're just so depressing, and waiting a week for resolution, then just getting more depression...well, it's, um, depressing.

Part of me hopes that season six will flash-forward to the future that we saw in "The End." Dean can be a mopey militia-man, and Sam can rock the leisure suit. Cas will be a goofy guru. And then they can all resolve their issues somehow.

I think we did see the mother of Dean's not-child in one other episode. I don't remember which one, but it was when they were in each other's dreams, and Dean dreamed of her laying out a picnic before they had to go pick the boy up from a sporting event. Am I manufacturing this? Or do other people remember it, too? I certainly wouldn't have been able to place the actress if they hadn't shown the previously-on, but I do think she was important to Dean for what she stood for (the family he wants vs. the family he's got).

WhyMe said...

Billie, you forgot,

Sam calling on the phone:
Lady:"you have reached the voice-mail of"
Castiel: "i don't understand.. why... why do you want me to say my name?"

I think we are going to get dean as the angel and then Sam will do some angelcisem to get rid of him, at some cost to himself, as usual.

André said...

Lisa and Ben were included as Dean's idea of a happy life in "Dream a little dream of me", although he says he's never had the dream (picnicking with Lisa & Ben) before.
I thought it made sense he would go see her, especially since he felt so connected to the kid. Overall, they're really cranking up the darkness lately. Hard to imagine this show really is on CW, feels more like HBO or Showtime to me. I still enjoy it so much more than anything else on TV though.

Anonymous said...

The title is from the Jay-Z song 99 problems. "I got 99 problems but a b**** aint one"

Billie Doux said...

Eliza J, I thought Dean was able to kill Leah because he'd internally already made the decision to serve Heaven.

Thanks, everyone, for the reminder about the dream sequence. It was in season three; I'd spaced it out. http://www.billiedoux.com/supernatural3x10.html I still have trouble accepting Lisa as a big love interest for Dean, though. I think the problem is that they needed one for the plot, and Lisa was probably the best option they had.

Jess Lynde said...

I think the only reason they picked Lisa was because she had a kid. A kid that at one time Dean thought was his. So that's the best notion of his "future" family that he has.

Which makes a certain kind of sense, but I'm not buying into the whole goodbye scene either. It just wasn't earned, and even though Jensen acted it beautifully, I was pretty unmoved by the whole thing. I kept thinking, "Lisa? Really?"

I guess I can accept it as Dean giving up on some deeply buried dream of a family and a future. But not for Lisa herself. If not for the previously on, I would have completely forgotten about her.

I liked elements of this episode, but also had kind of an overall, "meh" reaction. I may have liked it better if not for the end. I guess I just didn't like them trying to add on the unearned pathos. I also would have enjoyed more Michael Shanks. I was excited to see him at the beginning, and then they didn't do much with him. Same thing happened to his wife, Lexa Doig, in "The End."

I did enjoy the Cas humor, including the phone message, the liquor store, the Enochian joke, and calling Sam an abomination. I, too, kept wondering if this was a step on the path to the Cas we saw in "The End."

Does anyone else wish we would get an episode that focuses more on Sam? I consider myself a "Deangirl," and Jensen does a wonderful job with his material, but I feel like Sam has really been getting the short end of the stick storywise. Dean isn't the only on dealing with issues. We sometimes get little glimpses of Sam's issues and pain, but largely the show seems to focus on Dean. Heck, even an episode titled "Sam, Interrupted" ended up being more about Dean. It would be nice to have a Sam story for a change.

Mark Greig said...

I agree with Josie about the show being too depressing week after week. I know it’s the end of the world and everything but does it have to be so unforgivably bleak. There desperately needs to be at least one comedy episode before the season finale, which is sure to be as light and cheerful as a Lars von Trier retrospective.

Besides Castiel bringing the funny this was a ‘meh’ episode for me too. Shame they had to waste Michael Shanks as a generic local. And, as Jess pointed out, Sam is being sidelined too much lately. Dean may be the more popular character (at least according to all my friends, who all practically swoon at the mere mention of his name) but Sam is still integral to the show and this entire story arc and it really would be nice to see how he’s coping for once.

Billie Doux said...

I absolutely agree that it's been grim lately. But it's the apocalypse, and near the end of the season. And I also remember complaints that we were getting too many funny ones back in November. :)

I did a poll once, a long way back: favorite Winchester brother. Dean was so far ahead (like 80%) that it was embarrassing how lopsided it was, so I took it down. In a way, Supernatural seems to be more about Dean's journey than Sam's, and I've assumed that's why we get more Dean than Sam. There could be other reasons, though. It might also be because Jensen is easier to write for, or his character is, or both. I've heard that's the reason why James Marsters' Spike kept getting episodes written around him.

I like Sam, and I identify with him for several reasons. I was a rebellious younger sister with a bossy older sister who was just like my mom, and I was the one in my family who overachieved academically and got myself into college. But I do like Dean more.

Maybe I should put that poll up again.

Harry said...

I think there's quite a parallel between Angel/Spike fans and Sam/Dean fans. For me, Angel and Sam speak to me more partly because of their tortured nature. Dean has been exceptionally well written and Jensen does Such an amazing acting job, but there is major potential for another Sam heavy episode before the finale.

I am surprised that people didnt like this episode more. I agree that Lisa was way outta the left field, but it kind of made sense a bit. It would have been better if a Lisa and Ben moment had made it into Dean's "Greatest Hits" when he and Sam were in heaven. That way we would have been more accepting that she was a major memory of his.

Anyway, that aside, I thought the rest of the episode was Excellent :) My favourite comedy moment being Cas' vm.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the review and the comments. Both had good thoughts and raised questions for me. I loved this episode..1. Michael Shank was awesome. (Loved the scruffy Michael) I am tired of seeing Dean beaten down week after week and I know most has been about Dean, but Jared is doing an awesome job with so little words for making Sam the strongest right now and because of his faith (that he never really lost) Sam is the one with his head on straight. I believe Sam will continue to show Dean that they are together and Sam needs Dean just as much as Dean needs Sam. I don't believe Sam is going to say yes and that somehow he'll get through to Dean. Regarding Lisa and Ben, I'm one of the few who really liked them. As to whether Dean loves Lisa, I don't think is the point, still believe Jo was Dean's soul mate, but since Jo died and took with her any chance Dean saw of loving someone who understood him so well, that Lisa and Ben is his idea of what a family of his own would be like, again wishful thinking. Having lost everyone else he as loved I can see why he wants to make sure before he says yes that someone who he cared about is around to remember him. Although he didn't spend any time with Lisa he sure did remember what they shared even if it was the best sex he's ever had. This week's episode I'm almost afraid to watch and the rest of the season. I just know Kripke will put me through the ringer by the end of Season 5.
view. I like and agree with the comment and thoughts you brought up. I was surprised to find out Dean was a true sevent of God and his devation is real, and he believes saying yes is the right think to do, but I still feel that Dean will come to his decision because it is just right.
(again original comments

Anonymous said...

The episode title is a reference to a song...one of the lyrics is, "I've got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one", referring of course to the whore of babylon in this case.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense that he goes to Lisa. In season three, he was actually bonding with Ben and was a bit disappointed that he wasn´t his kid. I liked this episode, not one of the strongest but a good one.

ChrisB said...

Re: the whole Lisa thing. I was not at all surprised by it. There have been several hints over the past couple of years that Dean is beginning to long for a family and a 'normal' life. It seemed so clear to me that he wanted Ben to be his son, and I believe his feelings for Lisa are an extension of that.

The last couple of episodes have been absolutely draining to watch. It never ceases to amaze me how invested I can become in fictional characters -- to the point where seeing Dean in so much pain just makes me cry.

Something tells me the worst is yet to come...

Juliette said...

Although I find Lisa herself a bit bland, that story would instantly become much more interesting if it turned out she was lying before and Ben was Dean's son, especially given the whole bloodlines thing, which for a minute was where I thought they were going with it.

Endaira91 said...

"I saw a liquor store. And I DRANK it"

This has to be the episode with my favorite Castiel lines. Which is funny considering how broken he is in this episode. The way he calls himself an angel of the Lord in this episode sounds so defeated, like there's really not that much conviction behind those lines and it's just something he says out of habit. The episode itself was all right, but Cas scenes and Dean's decision to leave made it worth it.

Also it might be because I am binging this and watched the LIsa episode like, a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't see her scene as unnecessary. I do think it was placed in a weird place but I don't know where else it would have made sense to include it.

Also random thought: gotta feel bad for the unlucky demons who joined what they thought was an easy "pretend to attack and be exorcised" mission and suddenly they are actually killed by the Winchesters' blade. "Go help the Whore, they said. It will be fun and painless they said"