Vampires, shapeshifters, Jefferson Starships, oh my!
Last night’s Supernatural did, more or less, what I suspected it would do; it crammed almost all of the entire Eve ‘Mother of All’ subplot into a single episode. After keeping her on the periphery for so long, and teasing our expectations of a ‘Big Bad’, it seemed like the prudent thing to do. Of course, the episode did plenty I didn’t expect too, and as it turns out, Eve wasn’t being groomed as Supernatural’s version of Buffy’s Glory. No, she’s more like Adam, the Big Bad of Buff’s season 4; a side-plot distraction masking a bigger, more troublesome arc for the characters.
The opening featured Eve up to her usual tricks of monster mayhem, with a slight twist. She strolls into a bar still wearing the hot virgin the dragons gave her, and spreads some kind of pestilence. Unlike the Croatoan virus, this plague turned the patrons on one another and they began biting each other. My first thought was zombies, but this is a generic assumption for what was actually going on.
Meanwhile, back at Bobby’s place, we get one of those genre mainstays—the weapon manufacturing. Dean is taking the phoenix ashes procured from their back-to-the-future with Samuel Colt and fashioning them into five bullets designed to destroy Eve. Despite his diligence, Dean is worried. How exactly will ashes throw-down the Mother of All when they don’t even mildly irritate human skin? Bobby and Sam have had no luck locating Eve though, and in an effort to find her, send Cas looking for a friendly monster who might give up her location.
Who the angel retrieves is a familiar face; Lenore, the vamp with a heart and a conscience, played by Amber Benson (whose Tara on Buffy frequently faced Big Bads). Lenore gives up her location and emphasizes that the Mother’s voice is in her head and it forced the rest of her vampire clan to revert back to murder. She herself has been going through feeding cycles and begs Sam to put her down. Before the brothers can do anything about this, Cas steps in and fries her. What looks like possible mercy early on seems more sinister by episode’s end. This is a glimpse into Cas’ ruthlessness, and not the last or most severe of the hour.
Following Lenore’s tip about Eve’s whereabouts, the Winchester’s, Bobby, and Cas roll up into town and discover that it’s ‘less Zombieland and more Pleasantville’. Castiel finds his celestial mojo has dried up as a result of Eve’s presence and Dean notes ‘Mom making you limp, huh?’ What the heroes do find is a goopy, oozing twenty something bleeding out in his house. All five of him, in fact. Apparently this patient X was turned by Eve and then forced to bite a few more, all of whom took on his appearance and began to die. It looks like a shapeshifter, but doesn’t walk, talk or smell like a shapeshifter.
The dead remnants still in the bar confirm Eve is up to something new; the turned individuals experimental attempts at a viral strain designed to make hybrid monsters. Dean takes naming duties for the new monsters and calls them Jefferson Starships because ‘they are horrible and hard to kill’. Listening to Sam scream things like ‘Careful, they might be Starships’ only made the whole joke funnier. How long before geek culture adapts Jefferson Starship as a terminology for hybrid knock-off characters?
When the Winchesters discover two young boys, Joe and Ryan, who had been kidnapped for food by the Starships, they commit to getting the brothers back home and out of danger. This emotional knee-jerk compassion irritates Cas, who cautions them against halting the fight to return two kids to safety. While the boys are busy transporting the rugrats to safety, Cas decides to interrogate the demon they have tied up. After several seconds of screaming, Bobby turns to see Cas walk out wiping his hands and then produce a location. What’s left back in the room isn’t pretty. Long gone are the days, apparently, where angels require those with knowledge of Hell’s torture methods to do their dirty work for them.
When the team all reconvene, they find Eve just hanging out in the local diner and Sam and Dean go in together to face off with her. What they find inside is a shock. And no, I’m not talking the simple disconcerting mind-screw of Eve taking on the appearance of Mary Winchester (seems evil types love using the Winchester’s fallen mom against them). It’s more down to what Eve reveals to them about her motives and purpose.
Turns out, that Scottish bastard demon, Crowley, is still alive and well, torturing Eve’s ‘children’ and ‘first borns’ because he’s searching for soul energy, which is strong enough to work like a bomb if its amassed in the right quantities. Purgatory isn’t real estate, it’s the promise of ammunition. With Castiel trying to do a similar thing, as well as being the one who allegedly burned Crowley to nothing earlier in the season, there’s obviously something highly distressing about this reveal.
So, Eve decided to get in on the soul action, and has started motivating her monsters to spread out and turn as many humans as possible, like a supernatural arms race if you will, with souls at stake. She’s even most proud of the way she slipped the real Patient X through Sam and Dean’s radar in the form of the youngest of the two brothers the duo rushed to safety. We watch the young boy turn and kill his brother and uncle and the parallel between Sam and Dean and these unlucky siblings with the younger being compromised hits home. It’s an extra twist of the knife that actress Samantha Smith delivers the revelation as Mary.
Before one can let their mind reel about Eve’s revelations, Dean delivers a ‘Bite Me!’ at her and she does just that. It turns out that was all in the plan, because upon realizing that the Phoenix ashes were harmless to him personally, Dean chugged an entire shells’ worth with some booze. He’s momentarily turned into a Starship (how humiliating!) but his anti-monster cocktail worked and destroys Eve. Say what? Big Bad went down with a single punch?
Except, she’s not the big bad is she? Does this season have a big bad? And as Sam and Bobby are starting to suspect, and Dean doesn’t want to believe, is it possible that big bad is Catiel?
First, let’s get the basics of the episode out of the way. This was a good one, as far as mythology episodes go. It featured some great in-jokes including a hilarious bit involving Dean trying his hand at monster dubbing, as well as a decent amount of mystery and subterfuge. It was most certainly overstuffed and frantic, but as a staged coup this late in the season, that’s understandable. The Jefferson Starship joke was priceless and a good sign that regardless of what else has happened since Kripke’s reign, Supernatural has lost none of its humor.
Now, about the greater context of this episode. As I said, I liked it and enjoyed some of the twists and turns and the skill with which the writers and production team executed them. Most specifically I liked the image of the two brothers comforting each other in the Impala while Sam and Dean look on nostalgically from the front seat, and the later heart-break when Eve informs them they screwed up by showing compassion. Seriously, these guys can’t catch a break. The sequence with the baffled shape-shifter trying to figure out why this terrible thing was happening was also wonderfully staged and bringing Mary back only to have her play Eve was also a worthy stroke.
The reveals themselves are rather surprising, but thankfully, actually add up to something. I think that’s what should really be emphasized here. Everyone has been saying ‘this can’t be wrapped up in a single season, there are too many plot threads, it can’t be done’ and yet, here it is. As one who kept waiting for Lost to pull it all together (only to get the rug well and truly yanked out from under me) I have to say, I’m kind of impressed. As it turns out, purgatory, Eve, and the war in heaven are all part of the same issue, and the state of souls and soul energy is actually the thematic tying point. I’m personally intrigued because I think there’s more yet; remember Death wanted Dean to experience the power of a Reaper so he could puzzle out the issues with the souls? There has to be more to it than just battery for a heavenly/hellish weapon right? Sam’s own poor mangled soul also must fit in somewhere.
Castiel has been acting severely sketchy lately and it’s going to take a whole lot to explain his motivations and intentions regarding a partnership with Crowley. However, all of these things make a certain sense that shows the writers didn’t’ pull this out of their butts. Crowley is a bastard and pure evil, but he’s also trying to play reformer in Hell, same as Cas is attempting in Heaven. I can see the two making some sort of deal to put an end to the chaos ripping through everything.
That Castiel could ever be as cold, merciless and duplicitous as Crowley is not a good thing. Also, it finally explains why Sam and Samuel were brought back together. I kept wondering how Crowley would even know that Dean and Sam would have any latent connection to Grandpa Campbell, but since Castiel was actively involved in both time jumps from earlier, he would. Are we to accurately assume that it was Cas, not Crowley, who pulled them out of their respective ethereal holding spots?
As for Eve, I’m not too surprised she was just a red herring, but I have to wonder if all of this has been handled in the best possible dramatic way. Everything still feels too erratic, not dramatic enough, and there’s been less honest emotion in the show as of late because of all the haphazard reveals, quick deaths, and shifting allegiances. I’m still stinging over both X-Files alums being dusted a few eps back, and I really would have liked to see more done with Ellen’s return in ‘Heart’ and Benson’s Lenore here. The detail and care are still obvious in the writing but that canny narrative pacing and emotional depth that season 5 had doesn’t exist this time.
However, I’ve got to say, I’m excited for these last few eps in an entirely new way. The showrunners have promised change and they are bringing it. If, in the larger context of the show, things follow this trajectory, then Season 6 will be seen as the canny transition. Man, I sure hope so. And, c’mon Cas, don’t be evil! Please!
So, what did you think? Did you enjoy the episode? What do all these revelations mean? Is Eve actually vanquished, and will the Starships prove to be a greater problem now that she’s out of the picture? How about Castiel and Crowley? Do you think Castiel has slowly shrugged off his human qualities and is capable of true partnership with a demon?
Let me know what you think below.