It’s always a hit or a complete miss with ‘Supernatural’ writers Andrew Dabband Daniel Loflin. I don’t know what it is but I don’t like their way of writing. They have been a part of the writing team for two years and I still reject their bland and obvious style. It always feels a bit too over-the-top. I enjoyed ‘Weekend at Bobby’s’ so I should have known better than to expect too much from their next episode. After ‘You can’t handle the truth’ I was very excited for ‘Family matters’. One thing is sure, ‘Family Matters’ cannot be accused of not giving answers but the way they were delivered is a different topic. I like to be shown not told. There are a couple of phrases which I despise hearing on any television show:
‘Isn’t it obvious’
‘If you trusted/loved me, you would stop asking questions’
‘I’ve already said more than I should’ve‘
‘I’m not gonna tell you because the writers want to reveal it in a later episode’
Ok, I’m cheating the last one is not from a TV show but it’s the real reason behind such phrases. E.g. If it would be so obvious, the character in question wouldn’t need to talk about it in the first place. It’s short for writers having to cut exposition. I watch TV shows to get one answer: What’s the point of the creator’s story? So telling me don’t question things is rude and lazy writing.
The episode started great with Doctor Castieldiagnosing Sam with Soullessness. My favorite Sam theory. The search didn’t reveal anything else beside Sam’s soul being gone but Dean’s ‘How can it even be Sam’ and Castiel’s ‘You pose an interesting philosophical question’, acknowledged the basic problem. How can a human being aka Sam exist without it? How does a body function without it? How can he walk around and talk? Why isn’t he a zombie? If this would have been the only reveal, I might have enjoyed the episode; unfortunately it was only the beginning.
The next thing we learn is that dear Grandpa Samuel has a lead on the alpha vampire. You want to know how? Don’t bother. Even Sam and Dean don’t get an answer. Castiel checks Samuel for mumps and if his soul is still at home. Then Castiel leaves to go back to his little ‘Civil War’. I suspect season five’s ‘I haven’t found God yet’ is being replaced with ‘I have to go back to heaven becausewe’re at war’. Did I mention how glad I was that Gabriel’s horn of truth was a red herring in ‘You can’t handle the truth’? Well, I am and I have no interest into seeing or hearing anything about angelic warfare anytime soon. I know Supernatural doesn’t have the budget to show it, so reminding me every time Castiel shows up doesn’t help. E.g. Paris Hilton saying ‘one distant father figure coming right up’ in ‘Fallen Idols’ was annoying since everybody knew Jeffrey Dean Morgan was not coming back. I will believe that Castiel has a real story arc, the second I see it and not sooner. So far he is the same as in season 5, very attractive and charming but at the end of the day a tool.
Then it’s time for the big alpha hunt. Grandpa Campbell seems to be awesome at collecting distant family members who want to start a career as hunters. Suddenly, the entire casa del Campbell is full with hunters sharpening their knives. I was bored by these scenes in the roadhouse and I’m bored by them 4 years later. Time to move on. Christian Campbell grabs the chance to become even more annoying by continuing to harass Dean. Gwen Campbell gets more likable by saving Dean and having an awesome decapitation scene. Not herself but a vampire, I want to add. To my own surprise, I like characters that do other things besides comparing Dean to a girl, who knew! Then Dean fills us in that the alpha vampire was apparently stupid enough to reveal his home address in the vision. What a caring vampire! So the vision meant: ‘Make new vampires and if you have any trouble, daddy lives in this house.’ Maybe that’s how Samuel found Richard. He grabbed himself a vampire and tortured him about the vamp visions. The vision in the previous episode looked magnificent. I really don’t understand why they didn’t grab the chance to explore it further. I was right that Supernatural’s origin story for bloodsuckers makes their alpha as old as humanity. Richard mentions that he has been around since humans huddled around campfires. This was an interesting reveal, I hoped that we would learn more about it. Sadly, it was dropped immediately and we get to the main problem of this episode.
Where do monsters go when they die? I’m with Dean, it’s obviously Legoland. The first thing what really bothered me was the absolutely ridiculous reason why Richard the alpha vampire decided to start his exposition monologue. I’m a bad guy and I’m gonna kill you so I’m gonna tell you my big secret. Come on, even the YED knew not to tell Dean the main part of his plan. He teased but didn’t reveal everything. If Richard would have started to brag about his awesome vampire war plan, it would have made sense. Or if he would have talked about why he was so in love with Sam having no soul, I would have been OK. But nope, the minute he smells the Winchesters, he is overcome by the desire to tell them the big secret. He won’t tell Samuel and break out to kill him. No, he prefers the Winchester brothers. It must be those dreadful Winchester pheromones, monsters obviously can’t resist them. I watched 7 seasons of ‘Buffy’ and 5 seasons of ‘Angel’ and not once did I come across a character that was in such a hurry to spill the truth and believe me, Joss Whedonloves exposition scenes of all kinds and his villains s have the tendency to not know when they should shut up but ‘Supernatural’ managed to be even worse. Richard actually scolds the Winchester for asking them why he wants to tell them and not Samuel. I can accept a bad guy bragging about his awesomeness, his cleverness or his evilness in general but I can’t get behind exposition being crammed into an episode without any sense at all. It was like how can I shove as much information into the scene without wasting any time on making it fit. The idea itself is interesting but the monologue felt forced and weird for a centuries old creature. An ancient vampire referring to himself as ‘freak’? Please!
You can’t hide from the big bad wol… vampire
So monsters go to purgatory. Hooray or not. There are two reasons why I find this absolutely idiotic. First, a monster would have used a different term for its heaven/hell than the human rather degrading term of ‘purgatory’. A place where human souls are believed to be purified or temporary punished. So why an alpha vampire would refer to ‘monster afterlife’ with it is beyond my understanding. Richard doesn’t say ‘you call it purgatory’, he says ‘purgatory…it’s filled with the soul of every hungry thing like me that ever walked this earth’. Another ludicrous line. I suspect the writers are trying to talk about the devouring side of monsters but this side is present in humans and all other creatures. So technically, everything that walked the earth has been a hungry thing at one point of time. Maybe it’s me and I don’t understand the reference, maybe I should ask Castielfor help. He must have a ‘Human references for dummies’ book! Second, I don’t see what possible advantage demons could gain by ruling a place full of monster souls. Sorry, I forgot to mention Samuel is collecting monsters to find purgatory because he has a deal with Crowley, the boss of hell, who brought back Sam and Samuel. I don’t want to speculate how that even makes sense; I just hope he’s lying. Gaining territory is an advantage when you’re at war but demons don’t really need it. Humans cannot turn into angels, according to ‘Supernatural’, and God is on an endless vacation, so unless there is a tree with fertilized angel eggs (‘Wish’ by Clamp), I don’t see why Crowley would be interested in ‘Monster Purgatory’. His numbers are growing everyday. Humans go to hell, turn into demons. Angels might be more powerful but at a certain time there will be so many demons that angels will be hopelessly outnumbered. It’s simple math.
Maybe it was me or my negative feelings towards the episode but I didn’t find Crowley’s appearance impressive. They bothered to hide his involvement by not crediting Mark Sheppard at the beginning of the episode. I honestly didn’t notice and didn’t care. The second I saw Christian’s black eyes, I knew he was involved. It was surprising to see Christian possessed by a demon but it explained his behavior. The alpha vanishing with a few demon minions was also unexpected. Crowley’s appearance was only a logical expansion, not a surprise. I was actually shocked that he delivered awful exposition scene 2.0. Of course, Crowley finds his wish for p-land obvious. Haven’t you heard of hell’s biggest problem? Overpopulation. It must be dreadfully crowded in the pit. It’s so obvious; I’m ashamed of my stupidity of not thinking of it sooner. Demons need a certain standard of living too.
Everything I loved about Crowley got destroyed with one single monologue. His humor, his ambiguous actions, never knowing if he was one of the good or bad guys, was delightful different from other demons. Now he’s just another bad guy. Honestly, every ‘Supernatural’ demon shares the same characteristics: Obscene language, killing humans and the occasional leather fetish. The only demons with some kind of a personality are Alistair, YED and Meg 1. Everybody else feels like a repetition but then Crowley stepped on the scene. He was polite, enjoyed being a demon, was capable of planning and did things for himself instead for the demonic master plan. Big Boss Crowley was obviously more successful in restoring order in his new workplace than Castiel. He looked a lot less stressed than in ‘Weekend at Bobby’s’. He must be crazy good at his new job because he even has time for expansion plans. The problem is not that I dislike the idea of ‘purgatory’ on ‘Supernatural’ per se - I initially didn’t like the idea of angels in season 4 either but I loved ‘Lazarus rising’ and I love Castiel, I enjoy it when a show manages to change my mind - but the way they introduced it was frustratingly annoying. This brings me to my ‘final problem’.
Sam and Dean’s new mission statement. I hate the last scene. I understand that it’s great if you want to see Sam and Dean back hunting together but it has been done over and over again. If I hear the Winchesters say ‘then we give that son of a bitch what’s coming to him’ one more time it’s still too soon. When in this show did Sam and Dean manage to make a plan that worked? Never!! Everytime it was a combination of questionable coincidences and dumb luck. Not once did a plan of them work out. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like they spend a lot of time thinking in the first place but seriously, if you can’t plan, don’t say stupid things like ’we give that son of a bitch what’s coming to him’. I hope this whole deal about hunting monsters for Crowley doesn’t last longer than 2 episodes. There are so many fantastic storyline possibilities in season 6; I don’t have the patience for watching simple monster-of-the-week episodes anymore. The whole scene felt like a belated explanation of what Sam and Dean will do the rest of the season. Sure, there are a few nice brother moments, a funny Castiel scene but that’s nothing I haven’t seen before. So to sum it all up, last week I said that there hasn’t been a single season 6 episode which I hated, well ‘Family matters’ earned itself the pole position. Congratulations!
-Richard – the alpha vampire. Despite my obvious dislike for episode. Every scene with Richard, the alpha vampire was fantastic. His voice alone sends shivers down my spine and his boredom during Samuel’s questioning was delightful. Great casting Supernatural crew! I hope we see more of him. Rick Worthy’s character would deserve better scenes and writing. The alpha raised some interesting questions about alphas having mothers. I’m intrigued.
-Sam and Dean. Both brothers had great scenes in this episode. I loved Sam’s ‘you’re stuck with the soulless guy’ or Dean’s ‘if you weren’t RoboSam, you’d feel it, too’. But I still don’t understand why Sam wanted to hunt with his brother again. He had to know that Dean would ‘mess things up’ for him; wouldn’t it be more logical if he had tried to avoid him instead of asking him to come back? If I didn’t have feelings, I would avoid anybody capable of telling the difference. For Sam that would be Dean.
-Gwen Campbell. Can you believe it, the girl actually did something elsethan offend Dean? I’m all for feisty, strong women on TV but a character who’s only characteristics is ‘making jokes’ is annoying. We learned that Gwen is so bitchy because Samuel treats her as a less capable hunter. She suspects that he sees his daughter Mary in her and tries to protect her. But her most important scene was – saving Dean’s butt with style. Two great scenes, a little bit of character development and I don’t want her to die, I’m easy to please.
-Christian Campbell. If there is one good thing about this messy ‘demon want purgatory’ crap then that it explains Christian’s weird hate for the older Winchester. It’s obvious that a demon would not be in Dean Winchester’s fan club. Nonetheless, I found his death scene very satisfying. I think I actually cheered. Although it makes you wonder why Castiel didn’t sense the demon inside Christian when he was in Grandpa’s office or why Christian couldn’t find Sam and Dean when they were hiding. Plotholes, plotholes…
-New Old director. There is technically nothing wrong with episode. It got the right pacing, the right angles, in theory a great episode. Unfortunately it isn’t due to the horrible writing. Nonetheless, Guy Bee who directed one of my season 1 favorites ‘Asylum’ did a great job with his return episode. I loved the decapitation scene, the blood and gore of the vampire hunt. I loved the way he shot the cage scenes, let’s hope he comes back for another episode. I only got one nitpick: raise your hand if you were confused by the woman calling for Dean. It happened so fast that I couldn’t even see if she was a hunter or a vampire. Was I supposed to be sad or something?
‘Supernatural’ airs Friday, 9/8c pm on the CW.