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Emmy consideration and SPN 2x22 (spoilers for finale)
dean believes his victory is pyrrhic
innie_darling
Man, do I wish that Jensen's Emmy ep was "What Is, and What Should Never Be" rather than "All Hell Breaks Loose." I really, really do. 2x20 was not only a Dean-centric episode; it was built around a concept that simply wouldn't have worked without JA's stellar performance. I'd argue that though he had his moments in 2x22, the episode itself was much more mechanical, plot-driven rather than character-driven. Sure, I believed his whole performance, but it was an episode that didn't really demand the same level of absolute faith as WIaWSNB.


(1) Let's back up a second and go back to the end of 2x21, which was totally wrenching and effective. Sam's completely unaware of Dean pleading in front of him and Dean is getting more and more frantic. What does Dean say? "No no no no no no," all in a rush, one panicked breath - the same exact thing Sam said back in 2x01 when he found out there was a reaper after Dean. I love that moment so much.

(2) Bobby saying that he could use Dean's help. I love that I believe Bobby in that moment. And I have to admit that I'd love to see the Bobby and Dean show.

(3) Dean pushing Bobby away and then apologizing twice. I just . . . this is who Dean is, right? Someone who can't help making emotional connections. I thought the first half of this episode was good.

(4) Except for the too-muchness of Dean's speech about wanting to protect Sam. Some people may feel that it was nice to hear Dean finally say some of these things out loud - that he protected Sam because he wanted to, that he loved Sam always. For me, though, it was unnecessary.

(5) Though it did work with Dean's state of mind. Of course Dean sees Sam's death as his own failure, instead of considering that he kept Sam alive for twenty-four (?) years. I'm not quite sure how he feels he let John down - the fact that his body couldn't withstand the abuse of the crash on top of YED!John's ripping him open, maybe?

(6) I liked this incarnation of the Crossroad Demon. Her "gutter soul" line was chilling and very well-delivered. I feel like this finale, very much unlike last year's, left things wide open for all sorts of AUs. I think last year we were all scrambling to make sense of what we'd seen, figure out where the Winchesters could go from where they were. This year, I feel like we were given something closed and it's our to take or leave. Here's where the first AU could occur: what if the Crossroad Demon never showed up or refused to do anything because offering your soul is a one-time only kind of thing? (This idea got mumbled yesterday, but I can't remember if it was janissa11's or mine.) What would Dean have done then?

(7) Neither Dean nor the CD is at all precise about Sam's condition. Given Jake's assertion, the boys are lucky that Sam wasn't brought back paralyzed.

(8) Sam swears revenge on Jake the minute he hears Jake's still free. Yeah.

(9) Dean, with a year left, insists that Sam needs to take time to recuperate. He's determined to use his time to end the YED but this is still more important to him. This is the kind of thing that makes Dean's long speech about protecting Sammy redundant.

(10) Bobby's psychoanalysis of Dean. Look, I loved the way Bobby was so furious, the way he held Dean's face, and the way Dean confessed when pressed. But I didn't need to hear Bobby ask what Dean's self-esteem level was. Bobby's not John, and that's great, but that was too much for me.

(11) Ellen showing up. AU #2: I was totally waiting for Ellen to do something evil. I really wish she had.

(12) Wasn't that a pentagram, not a Devil's Trap? Don't DTs have seven sides?

(13) I can buy that Dean isn't shooting Jake because Sam's already sworn to do it and he believes that Sam deserves his revenge. And I can buy that Bobby and Ellen wouldn't do anything except back the boys up. But. What the hell was Sam waiting for? All that tough-guy posturing was just annoying. And once he finally did shoot Jake, the smugness on his face was frankly ludicrous. Whatever.

(14) Once John showed up and wrestled the YED, how did Dean wind up with the Colt? Sam is only "let go" after Dean shoots the YED, which would imply that Dean can't move either. Yet the YED is tackled and lands with the Colt still in his hand but the next thing we see is the Colt in Dean's hand. What am I missing?

(15) I'm impressed that the YED storyline was wrapped up, and that we got a lot of answers. But I'm also deeply worried that without that fundamental drive, the battles the boys engage in next season will not have the same resonance - the problem I saw with Veronica Mars after the deeply personal mysteries of season 1 were solved.

(16) I'm surprised at how final John's sendoff was. I like the way the John and Dean reunion was played - not a full hug, no words - but wasn't as pleased by the John and Sam stuff.

(17) And again, Dean proves how much he is about family. "I didn't do it alone" and "That was for our mom" are all about how much he's been fighting for.

(18) I was amazed at how easily Sam let Dean off the hook for making the deal. And completely shocked that Dean would flat-out lie to his brother. It just wrapped everything up too neatly, I guess, and as Em pointed out, they filmed this before they knew if the show would be renewed. But I guess my dissatisfaction has to do with the feeling that last year, they trusted us enough to give us something open-ended, that terrible crash and we didn't know who would live or at what price. This finale leaves much less for us to do. What if Henricksen had been tailing them somehow? Or Ellen really was evil? There were ways and ways to make this season's finale less of a sealed world, I guess is what I'm saying.

Which is not to say that I hated it or that I'm not looking forward to season 3. I'm just thinking of other ways this could have gone.


Off to read everyone else's reactions!

As always, feel free to argue, disagree, debate.

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#04- Yes.

#18- Also, yes.

Which is not to say that I hated it or that I'm not looking forward to season 3. Also, also, yes.

I figured Dean trying to make a deal with a demon would play a part in this episode based on it being a reoccurring element this season. But I thought that in this incarnation we would get something new. Either the demon would say no to the deal, or the demon would say that it's impossible- that she can't retrieve Sam's soul due to some YED interference, or that Dean would go there to make a deal and then not based upon how he felt after John sacrificed his life for him. But it was the same, and while it highlights some interesting aspects of Dean's character (his low self-esteem, etc), for me it's as you say in #4. We already know this about Dean, so explicating it again was unnecessary.

And I hated the ending. I mean, I love happy endings (or happy-ish, upbeat endings)- when they're earned. This upbeat-ish ending wasn't earned; it felt forced. Yes, Sam is alive; yes, John's soul has been released from hell; yes, the YED is dead. But hell has been unleashed on earth, Dean has sold his soul to a demon, Sam discovered in the last ep that Mary had some sort of connection to the YED, Ash and Andy are dead, Ava was tormented and tortured for five months before she died- this is not an ending that calls for triumphant rock music.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was dissatisfied with the ep. Like you, I didn't hate it. I just didn't love it, and it certainly didn't elicit the same OMG reaction from me as Devil's Trap did. But I am still looking forward to S3.

This upbeat-ish ending wasn't earned; it felt forced. Yes, Sam is alive; yes, John's soul has been released from hell; yes, the YED is dead. But hell has been unleashed on earth, Dean has sold his soul to a demon, Sam discovered in the last ep that Mary had some sort of connection to the YED, Ash and Andy are dead, Ava was tormented and tortured for five months before she died- this is not an ending that calls for triumphant rock music.

They have accomplished what they set out to do for 22 years, I think that calls for a little celebration. What makes you think Ava was tormented and tortured? she said the same thing that Jake did, that it was so much easier once they gave in. Would you say Jake was tortured to reach that decision?

What makes you think Ava was tormented and tortured? she said the same thing that Jake did, that it was so much easier once they gave in. Would you say Jake was tortured to reach that decision?

For the first, I took into account the fact that Ava was kidnapped, dumped in a haunted town with other kidnapped people, and then forced to either die or kill in order to live. We saw in Hunted that she was a good person; she tracked down Sam, a complete stranger, to try to save his life. So for her to transform from the good person we saw in Hunted to who we saw in AHBL must have been traumatic. Sam postulated in Simon Said that the YED wanted to break him and the other kids like him, and I think that's what the YED did with Ava.

We saw what the YED did to Jake, also shown to be a good person, one who loves his family, when he tried to rebel- he threatened to kill his family. It's not too much of a stretch to think he might have done the same thing to the other special kids, including Ava. And if not that, if he didn't threaten to kill her family (after he already killed her fiancee), then it's not too much of a stretch either to imagine that he may have engaged in some of the psychological torment that he did with Scott, the special kid killed by Gordon in Hunted.

Of course it would be easier for both her and Jake once they gave in to the YED and his demands and killed people. If they do want he wants, it makes sense that his persecution and threats would stop, or at least lessen.

So all of that plus Dean selling his soul and the opening of hell makes me thing that the upbeat-ish ending (meaning, primarily, the rock music playing at the very end) was forced. Sam and Dean may have finally triumphed over the YED, but from what Bobby said about the war starting, they have an even bigger and, likely, more dangerous fight on their hands. So I figured something closer to the 'We're so screwed' ending from Nightshifter would have been a better match rather than the ending that we got. But then this is just my opinion, so take that for whatever it's worth.

Just popping in to say your icon is adorable!

I was going to wait to respond until I got a chance to do a third viewing, but given the way my life is going right now . . .

Which is to say, Hi! Glad to see you around! Hope school's going well!

Either the demon would say no to the deal, or the demon would say that it's impossible- that she can't retrieve Sam's soul due to some YED interference, or that Dean would go there to make a deal and then not based upon how he felt after John sacrificed his life for him. YES. How interesting would it have been if Dean had been forced to think of a new way to save his brother? Especially given his comments in "Crossroad Blues," I was so sure that Dean wouldn't go this route. I understnad *why* he did - it's no great mystery, really, given Dean's issues and desires - but it could have been so much more complicated and satisfying.

You're right - the ending was playing all the wrong notes. Even as a series finale, it was too neat. Dean's grin, while beautiful, covered up too much, and we should have gone out in silence.

I'm not quite sure how he feels he let John down - the fact that his body couldn't withstand the abuse of the crash on top of YED!John's ripping him open, maybe?

I've thought for most of the season that, in addition to the guilt he feels for the deal John made, Dean's felt guilty for begging Sam not to shoot John in Devil's Trap.

in addition to the guilt he feels for the deal John made, Dean's felt guilty for begging Sam not to shoot John in Devil's Trap OH, YEAH. I'd thought a lot about that after 2x01, how John died anyway, and how the whole YED storyline could have been wrapped up in season 1. Totally forgot about that, though, until I saw this comment. Thanks!

Not a full reply here -- LOTS of good and thoughtful stuff here, and I'm at work -- but here's one thought about the Emmy stuff. As much as I do agree that JA's performance in What Is was actually the standout one of the season, I think I see a reason why the finale might have been chosen instead of WI. It's about knowledge of character -- I'm not 100% sure Joe Random Person would GET why this alternate universe was simultaneously so perfect and so agonizing for Dean. Why it MEANT so much. Whereas the finale is far more accessible -- they beat the Ur-Bad guy, John got to add his bit, Dean made his ginormous deal, Sam reacted, and they wrapped. You still need knowledge of canon to see why THOSE are important, but you don't need quite the micro-level understanding of Dean's psyche -- the canvas is far broader in the finale, and maybe that counts for something. I wonder if that didn't figure into it?

Yeah, I know what you're saying. But I guess I almost feel like 2x22 was leading the unfamiliar viewer along, rather than being a ride for the devoted follower, you know? Like, we get the CD, Bobby, and the YED talking about Dean's low self-esteem, and Dean himself speechifying about how he raised Sam.

Whatever. The point is, we've got two glorious seasons of JA's DEAN to watch and rewatch and love.

(7) Neither Dean nor the CD is at all precise about Sam's condition. Given Jake's assertion, the boys are lucky that Sam wasn't brought back paralyzed.

I was thinking this, too, and I love that the demon apparently is honorable enough to give Dean what he actually wants instead of fucking with him. *g*

I'm impressed that the YED storyline was wrapped up, and that we got a lot of answers. But I'm also deeply worried that without that fundamental drive, the battles the boys engage in next season will not have the same resonance - the problem I saw with Veronica Mars after the deeply personal mysteries of season 1 were solved.

Ah, but they've launched off into a new set of mysteries. Will Sam learn to use his powers to control the demons, and thereby start to change as the others did? Will he try to use those powers to save Dean (ie, controlling the crossroads demon)? Will they begin researching Samuel Colt's work and find more things he's built and protected? Will they figure out how Mary knew the demon? Can Dean be saved? All these things are personal, and they retain urgency and resonance. So I'm not worried at ALL. I'm totally satisfied. Yay, show!


Dude, paralyzed Sam. It's just too horrible to contemplate.

Will Sam learn to use his powers to control the demons, and thereby start to change as the others did? Will he try to use those powers to save Dean (ie, controlling the crossroads demon)? But does Sam still have his powers? That's something I couldn't quite figure out. I think that I would find Sam's powers far less annoying in a post-YED world.

Will they begin researching Samuel Colt's work and find more things he's built and protected? Now THAT is a cool idea, and one I hadn't even considered.

Will they figure out how Mary knew the demon? I kind of like my suspicion that the YED staged that bit of business for Sam, and that Mary had no bloomin' idea what she was walking into.

Can Dean be saved? OH BUT HE MUST. DEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAN!

I was rooting for Ellen to be evil too!! I kinda wanted the mole in the roadhouse thing to pay off bigger. I can't complain overall because I found it satisfying that things were wrapped up - I dont think they could sustain the YED chasing them forever, it'd be like, seven years later, here we still are, so I like that they have been brave enough to send it off in a different direction. Although I get what you say with the VM comparison.

I have no idea how Dean feels he let John down other than in that he didn't keep Sam safe.

Evil!Ellen! I think everybody should write AU fic about that! Unless she really IS evil and she could withstand holy water just like the YED in 1x22. Hmmmm.

I was thinking, maybe she's really evil, for like the whole ep!!!

AU Evil Ellen fic yes. You should write that, hee!

(And I see we're both doing the retold challenge, should be interesting. I'll have to get on with mine as post Mid june I'm not really around)

Here from the newsletter

I'm impressed that the YED storyline was wrapped up, and that we got a lot of answers. But I'm also deeply worried that without that fundamental drive, the battles the boys engage in next season will not have the same resonance - the problem I saw with Veronica Mars after the deeply personal mysteries of season 1 were solved.

*nod nod*

I love that they were brave enough to kill the yed off, but I'm a little wary of it, too. I mean, that huge, overarching drive is gone, and I'm not sure that small, one season arcs would necessarily be as compelling as the very personal, multi-season arc. I mean, the war beginning is exciting, but it's not...it's bigger, but it's less immediate because it's the whole world, rather than their family, if that makes sense? Like, I loved the yed story so much because they fought him not just because of the potential apocolypse, not even mostly, but rather because he screwed with their family, and because he was such a threat to Sam. I think I'll miss that.

That said, I think there are still a lot of questions surrounding Sam we don't know the answers to, so hopefully it's not as closed down as it could be, and I think Kripke wrote the finale with cancelation in mind, so there would be an actual ending if they didn't get picked up. I'm counting on him surprising us next season with more info on Sam or Mary that maybe he couldn't give us if he wanted that kind of closure. Or I'm hoping, anyway.

Plus, there's nothing more personal than Sam needing to save Dean, which should be completely awesome.

Re: Here from the newsletter

I mean, the war beginning is exciting, but it's not...it's bigger, but it's less immediate because it's the whole world, rather than their family ABSOLUTELY. That is exactly what I was trying to say. Rather than the personal, it's become epic. And that's simply a different kind of story. I know that I tend to prefer the personal over the epic, but hopefully, season 3 will convert me.

You're making good points about Sam and Mary and the rest. I just . . . I guess I'll need to see it to believe it, you know?

Sam needing to save Dean If only Dean will let him! You know Dean will try to run his year out, thinking that then Sam can live the normal life he's always wanted.

Re: Here from the newsletter

Oh, coding, you are so not my friend.

reposting because editing comments is still apparently never going to happen. Sorry.

Rather than the personal, it's become epic. And that's simply a different kind of story. I know that I tend to prefer the personal over the epic, but hopefully, season 3 will convert me.

Yes! Exactly.

It's harder to make epic compelling, at least to me, if there isn't some highly personal point to it. I'm hoping that, yeah, either S3 will convince me that I'm wrong, or that they will find a way to make it personal. I mean, if it's the demon army, then maybe Sam can still control it? I don't know. but if he can control demons, then that ties in with the war and maybe also saving Dean, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Really, really tightly. *g*

You're making good points about Sam and Mary and the rest. I just . . . I guess I'll need to see it to believe it, you know?

Absolutely. Partly I think I'm speculating more out of hope than conviction. And the thing is, because I love it so much, I can't just be like, "It'll work out or it won't." I keep worrying over it, and I'm wary of just putting my faith in the PTB, because I've learned that lesson before, even if Kripke and Co have been awesome so far. Sigh. It would be so much easier if I cared less.

If only Dean will let him! You know Dean will try to run his year out, thinking that then Sam can live the normal life he's always
wanted.


*nod nod*

He will. He'll think he's doing the right thing, giving Sam his life bak, because he just really, really doesn't get that Sam doesn't want to lose him any more than he wants to lose Sam. Oh, Dean.

I want to write something where he keeps taking risks to save Sam's ass, because he figures if someone has to be in danger it makes sense for it to be him, and maybe where he's like, "I can give myself up to the feds, maybe get you out of it?" and Sam keeps trying to show him that's not what he wants, until he eventually just freaks out and gets mad at him, so Dean has to hear him.

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