bardicvoice (bardicvoice) wrote,

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2.21 All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One: I Just Need the One

Babes fed demon blood

Fight elimination rounds:

Sam dies in Dean’s arms.


I said in an earlier blog that whenever Eric Kripke and company answer one question, they raise many more, and that’s what they did with Part One of the second season Supernatural finale. That, and rip our hearts out.


The Summary


The opening scene montage played very appropriately over Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time,” with the song itself coming in on the Impala’s radio under the beginning action. Stopping at an isolated tiny diner to pick up dinner, Sam went in while Dean waited in the car. When the music dissolved into static, Dean realized that he no longer saw people through the diner’s windows. Inside, in a disturbingly eerie replay of what the brothers found at Ava’s house at the end of Hunted, the one customer and two staff were dead, throats slit, and Dean found sulfur on the back door, but no Sam.


Sam awoke in a deserted town, in short order encountering Andy, the mind-controller from Simon Said, Ava – who said she’d seen Sam two days earlier, and didn’t believe Sam when he told her she’d been missing for five months – and two strangers, a young soldier with super-strength named Jake and a Goth-type girl named Lily, whose merest touch would stop hearts. Sam immediately understood that if they were all together, the demon’s endgame was starting, and he took the lead, telling them the truth about demons – helped by the appearance of one, an achiri that took the form of a little girl to attack Jake – and encouraging them to fight back against the demon’s plans for them, scrounging for iron, silver, salt, and any other weapons. Lily tried to leave the town instead and wound up dead, slain by the achiri.


Andy used the latest addition to his abilities to force into Dean’s mind a vision of Sam beside a landmark of the town, an embossed bell. The vision caught Dean and Bobby at the ruins of the Roadhouse, destroyed by a fast-raging fire that had evidently killed Ash and any visiting hunters shortly after he’d summoned Dean to learn major news. Bobby recognized the bell that Dean described, and the two set off for the ghost town of Cold Oak, SD with rescue in mind.


With night coming, the gifted kids took refuge in a salt-barricaded room. Salt wasn’t proof against the yellow-eyed demon visiting in dreams, however, and Sam found himself in the last dialogue he would ever have expected. The YED said that he only needed one of the children, that he was looking for the best and the brightest of Sam’s generation to lead his army, and that all the rest would die. To help make his point, the YED gave Sam a view of what had happened the night his mother died: that the YED had dripped some of its own blood into baby Sam’s mouth, and then when Mary rushed in, she had somehow recognized the YED, and it had killed her.


Woken from the dream to be told that Ava was missing, Sam went searching with Jake, but Ava – who’d staged her departure to ensure theirs – broke the salt barrier around the safe room and used her abilities to summon the achiri to murder Andy. Brought back by Ava’s fake screams, Sam realized that Ava was playing the demon’s game, and had been ever since she disappeared; she said that she’d been killing other children as they arrived in town, in their groups of two and three. She summoned the demon again to kill Sam, but Jake arrived and snapped her neck before the demon could fully manifest, and the thing dissipated. Sam tried to persuade Jake to leave the town with him, arguing that they could defeat the YED together, but Jake wouldn’t trust him and tried to kill him. Sam’s training was more than a match for Jake’s enhanced strength and Sam won the fight, but didn’t follow through on the YED’s plans to kill Jake once he was apparently unconscious. Hearing Dean’s voice, Sam turned away, walking to meet his brother and Bobby – only to be stabbed in the back by Jake. Bobby pursued Jake, while Dean caught Sam in his arms. And Sam died.


Tune in next week for Part Two.


The Commentary


Okay: I had to split my blog this time. I couldn’t manage to create a short and sweet summary, not of a story ultimately so bitter, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t integrate commentary into a summary. So, we do it in pieces this time.


Technical things first. The location used for Cold Oak, SD wins the “best location yet” award, and the way that Bobby Singer – the director, not the hunter – shot it was marvelous. That high crane shot of the town from up past the windmill very early on was both beautiful and eerie, and the shot through the trees as Lily tried to leave perfectly established the desolation. The 360-degree oner in the schoolhouse as Jake looked for the girl-demon, starting from his perspective on the blank chalkboard and rotating around him to end on the chalkboard full of repetitions of “I will not kill,” was brilliant. Kudos to the director, the crew, and the Steadicam operator for that one. It definitely worked. The crane shot of the two brothers at the end, pulling up and back to leave them isolated, off-center, and surrounded by the weeping night, was killer. And the smoking ruins of the Roadhouse, complete with charred body parts, was one heck of a piece of set dressing.


Sera Gamble and Bobby Singer – the director, not the hunter – are both known for great character work. All of the “special children” were unique characters, and came across strongly. After the ambivalent hesitation that afflicted him at the end of Simon Said, I particularly enjoyed Andy’s recovered childlike delight in his expanding abilities, and his glee at using them in ways the YED definitely hadn’t intended or foreseen (Gay porn, all hours of the day. You should have seen the look on his face!). I also loved the way that Jake and Sam bonded, starting with their exchange of glances during Andy’s babbling, from Jake’s “Is this guy for real?” look to Sammy’s embarrassed, amused, accepting shrug. Both of them had been trained to deal with the necessities of combat, and both understood the need to take charge and project confidence to keep the non-soldiers focused and calm. Following the encounter with the achiri, Jake gave Sam respect for his knowledge and solid backup. In the scene in the barn, Jake recognizing that Sam was literally acting, hiding his own freak-out to keep the others from becoming more afraid, made Jake a powerfully sympathetic character, someone we could understand and appreciate – right up until the moment where he chose to cooperate with the demon, and resolved on Sam’s death. And then there’s Ava. Her transformation from sweet innocent to undefeated heavyweight demon-powered killer was disturbing. She was what Sam might have become, if he’d given in to the YED: a good person warped to evil by fatalism, by accepting the excuse of fate, of a choice that wasn’t a choice.


Most of this episode belonged to Sam, and Jared Padalecki did a spectacular job with it. Waking disoriented in the town, Sam did not do the rookie thing of shouting his brother’s name and announcing his presence to whatever might have been around: instead, he tried his cellphone, and when that didn’t work, went on silent reconnaissance. Sam has always been stronger than he gave himself credit for being, and his natural abilities at command were front and center on display. He took charge and took command, and it was as natural to him as breathing. In the end, fighting Jake, Sam dominated: he probably suffered a dislocated shoulder and damaged kidneys as well as a badly bruised jaw from the punches that Jake landed, but it was apparent that Sam was the more skilled, better trained, and more experienced fighter even than Jake the Army soldier. Sam won the fight with Jake, no question, and then won the fight with himself, not to give in to doing what the YED wanted. Sam was center stage.


But in the midst of it all, Dean was always present. At first, it was just his absence, but from the moment Sam began to compare notes with Andy, he clearly began to fear that Dean might have died when he was taken. Sam’s face said it all, the moment he asked Andy if what he had smelled was sulfur. I flashed immediately back to Hunted and the image of Ava’s fiancé, sacrificed on the bed, in the house with sulfur on the windowsill. The look on Sam’s face in that instant said that he was wondering if his brother was lying in the Impala or the diner with his throat slit, in a pool of his own blood. Throughout the episode, I saw that same idea on his face when he told Lily that he’d lost people too, and when he admitted his fear to Jake, saying that this time he didn’t believe that his brother would make it all better. When he told Andy that he was thinking about how much help Dean would be, his appreciation for his brother came through loud and clear. Love and faith: the brothers Winchester. The look on Sam’s face when he heard Dean’s voice – which sounded almost like a reward, following Sam’s choice to remain himself and not to kill the apparently helpless Jake – and saw him walking into the town:  that open look of relief and delight and trust made the following instant of agony all the more crippling.


And then there was the YED. So now we know that the YED had dripped its own blood into the mouths of the gifted children when they were six months old, possibly explaining their abilities and definitely explaining how they were set apart: that still doesn’t explain why these specific children were chosen. Were the children born with their abilities and marked by the YED because of them, or were their abilities endowed through the blood? We know that there are other “generations” – we knew that there were more children being marked in 2006 because of Rosie, whom the brothers saved in Salvation  but the YED’s comment suggests that there may have been previous generations as well, possibly explaining why Sam’s mother Mary recognized the YED. Was Mary part of the previous generation, and was the previous generation perhaps selected as breeding stock to produce the command generation of which Sam is a part? Did she know the YED directly, or recognize it because of dreams? The only mothers who died on the ceiling were apparently those who interfered with the YED on his sixth month visit; how many more children like Ansom and Ava were there, whose mothers didn’t die? (The YED’s line, Wrong place, wrong time – freaky shades of Dean and Jo in ELAC.) And did the YED manage to drop blood into little Rosie’s mouth, or is she truly free? Did the YED tell all of the current generation of children the same thing he said to Sam, including that the YED was rooting for them to win?


We have more questions now than we did before we saw what we saw.


I have to close this with Bobby Singer – the character, not the director – and Dean. Bereft of Sam, Dean obviously called everyone for help. Bobby responded, as he always does, but what he showed was a total absence of demonic activity in the month before Sam’s disappearance – the calm before the storm, one presumes. (And how was there no demonic activity for an entire month, when apparently some children still appeared in Cold Oak to be killed by Ava? Just a question …) Ash indicated that something huge was in the offing, but apparently died in the fiery end of the Roadhouse before he could convey what he learned. (Note to self: If you think that something cataclysmic is in the offing, assume that the bad guys already infiltrated your structure and have you targeted; just go ahead and use the unsecured phone line to convey the information, because if they already know that you know, you won’t be betraying anything, and at least your team will know what you found out and the intel won’t die with you. Duh.)


Dean receiving the forced transmission vision from Andy now has a new appreciation of the crushing pain that Sam has experienced with his own visions. It was amusing to see him denying that he was having a vision, up until the moment when he had no choice but to admit that, however impossibly, he had seen something, something that gave him what he and Bobby needed to find Sam.


Finding Sam, only to see him brutally stabbed, was agony. Dean landing on his knees before his brother, supporting him, trying to reassure him even when Dean clearly recognized that Sam’s wound was mortal; Dean tried so hard to hold on to hope, to love, to his brother’s life. But in the end, no matter how tightly he held Sam, no matter how desperately he tried to will his own strength into his brother, Dean couldn’t save him. Emptiness and despair were etched into every line of that last image, that last cry, and Jay Gruska’s music brought it home. Jensen Ackles floors me again.


To be continued …

The previews were brutal. Dean sitting with Sam’s body, crying, lost and empty, shouting at Bobby to let the world end; the Colt being turned like a key in the lock of hell; all hell literally breaking loose … we’re in for a wild ride. And we’ll ride it with Bobby and Ellen, as well as our Winchesters.


What do I think will happen in Part Two?

Get your brother back:

Pay the price, no matter what.

Then kick demon ass.


Is it Thursday yet? That’s the only day this week I really need.

Tags: episode commentaries, eric kripke, jared padalecki, jay gruska, jensen ackles, meta, robert singer, sera gamble, supernatural

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