Well, I’m back. You can blame mock exams and an infected laptop for my protracted absence (I kid you not, I had to write eight essays on Wednesday). But I have a great many feelings about The Devil In The Details, and most of them are nice, so buckle in.
I’ve made no secret of my love for the new season. Season Ten started to recover the ‘atmosphere’ that the show lost when it switched to digital in Season Seven and suddenly became awash in colour; Season Eleven is the darkest and most mysterious the show’s been in years. And it’s getting into the nitty-gritty of the boys’ lives- Baby was an eccentric, poignant examination of their actual processes, of how they interact. Just My Imagination was lovely and funny and wistful. O Brother Where Art Thou was practically an epic poem, and Our Little World uneasily decadent. And I love the first two episodes- the oddly moving premiere, and the eerie-as-heck Form And Void.
So, yeah, this season is pushing all the right buttons for me. And this was no exception.
The teaser for this episode was something only this show could get away with- absurd and completely random. I love how unnecessarily nutty it was- that’s the sort of thing that sets Supernatural apart- I mean, that ridiculous first shot.
And of course we have Mark Pellegrino back again. His performance was different to that of last episode; in O Brother he was truly chilling. Here he establishes a sort of sleazy familiarity with Sam, which is all part of the manipulation. There’s also a suggestion that his time in the Cage might have been a little wearing; he seems to get genuinely angry.
My favourite part of the episode might actually have been the little stroll down memory lane. It was lovely to have Colin Ford back, for one thing- but even better was the fact that years of plotlines were tied together.
I’ve seen some objections about the return to the Samelia arc that seem very weird to me. I didn’t like that arc either; that’s why they went back to it. They’re making it actually mean something in the context of the whole show- trying to make some sense out of it.
And the Swan Song stuff was just lovely, if also rather sad. The look on Sam’s face, for one thing. I love JP. He looks very different from in Season Five, actually, which kinda drove home Lucifer’s point- the Winchesters have become domesticated, to a degree, with the Bunker and the ‘nesting’.
Sam was magnificent this episode.
And Dean- Dean was just delightful. I’m very very happy about the voicemail (and the fact that Sam kept it). Then we have the already-much-giffed ‘I’m sorry, have you met me?’ Like- he spent the entire episode in raging elder brother mode. I was in a bubble of happy on first watch. Though the puking scene was nasty. I could probably count the instances of vomit in this show on my fingers, and while that was definitely not as gross as the Pestilence stuff, still: gross. Which isn’t to say it was a bad scene. I’m glad they’re, like, being gritty and all that. I’m sure the CasDean people have already giffed Cas’s impromptu medical exam to Hell and back.
And then Cas went off to find Amara. Ambriel, our latest in a long line of boring-ass angels, is distinguished by literally nothing except her cool name. Where have the weirdo angels gone? Our Uriels and our Zachariahs and our Annas and Gadreels? Granted, Lucifer is still awesome, but still. That’s the only part of this season that’s really bugging me.
Amara was even awesomer here. Her weird cloak of Darkness thingy has to be one of my favourite effects they’ve ever done. She certainly isn’t suffering from whatever has trivialised the angels. That’s the thing about primal forces, one finds.
I was glad to see Billie return. Actually, I lied earlier. Billie is a great angel, even if she’s technically a Reaper. (Also, she was reading a Neil Gaiman comic. I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.) I love her deep voice and her air of taking her time- she doesn’t scurry around doing things; she’s not that human. Give us more Billies, Supernatural. Give us more inhuman unknowable angels.
That said, I loved the Cage-match scene. How Dean just shoved round Cas and Lucifer and went straight to Sam, twice. This season’s Dean is protective- which I suppose makes sense in the context of what nearly happened with the MoC.
But, oh, Castiel. That dude needs to go on a damn leash. I love the guy, but wow. That said, his arc hasn’t done anything this interesting since Season Six; I’m really glad they’re giving Misha something good to work with (and he is working it; he even moved like Pellegrino. I found his Lucifer impression incredibly unnerving; those are Mark’s expressions on his face.)
I’m still not sure how I feel about the fact that Lucifer has been let out. It’s not the fact that they’re repeating themselves; that probably wouldn’t work on another show, but Supernatural has long abandoned the rules of conventional plotting. I’m just quite concerned that this could devalue the sacrifice made in Swan Song. However- I’ll take the actual inclusion of Swan Song clips as an indication that they have not forgotten this risk, and that they’re going to take it seriously. My feelings about this new arc are largely going to depend upon its execution.
Very sad about Rowena. That took me by surprise. I do hope we haven’t seen the last of her, but I guess the show will go wherever the hell it decides to go. She was rather spectacular in her big monologue-scene. I’ll miss Ruth Connell.
One last thing: the final scene in the car was gorgeous. Those deep shadows. Of course it helps that this episode was directed by the fabulous T.J Wright, who did Hitchcock’s storyboards. Woot.
Overall- a really solid episode, I think. This augers well for the second half of the season. Thoughts, anyone?