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23 March 2009 @ 07:13 pm
4.16 On The Head Of A Pin: There’s No Going Back  
4.16 On The Head Of A Pin: There’s No Going Back

Facing Alastair,
Dean learns what he cannot bear:
He broke the first Seal.

Read the rest ...Collapse )


I always feel like the latecomer to the party; I really hope people don't mind that these things take me so long!

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: "These Days" by Jackson Browne
(Anonymous) on March 24th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
On the Head of a Pin Review
I wouldn't worry about how long it takes you to do these reviews. I don't. I have read other reviews of Supernatural episodes and none of the compare to your well written and insightful reviews. I really enjoy reading your reviews each week. Keep the phenomenal reviews coming.

bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
Re: On the Head of a Pin Review
Thank you, Marlana! I will keep doing these as long as Kripke and company keep up the brilliant work; I'm addicted to Supernatural, and proud of it!
impulsiveanswerimpulsiveanswer on March 24th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
Awesome meta. You nailed everyone's motivations beautifully.

As difficult as watching Dean hitting rock bottom was, I hope the truths that brought it on will end up helping both brothers. I think there's a little part of Sam that was jealous the angels apparently chose Dean, insecure about what that meant concerning his own shortcomings, and determined to prove he can be useful too. Knowing about the first seal might make him realize their situations aren't as different as he thought might make him more open to confessing to Dean about what he's been doing with Ruby. Learning how badly his brother has been spiraling and how much Sam needs him to help him may be just what Dean needs to start to move beyond the motivations of Heaven and Hell and find the strength in where he's always found it: in being Sam's big brother.

I’m certain that there are fans who were upset by the amount of time that the story spent with Castiel, Uriel, and Anna, rather than with the Winchester brothers themselves

I would have been upset, except Misha Collins played the crap out of the excellent material he was given. I mean - wow. The character of Castiel blossomed wonderfully in this episode and that was really satisfying to watch.
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
Thank you! I look forward to Sam learning the truth about Dean having broken the first seal and understanding what that means to him, and Dean learning the truth about what Sam has been up to with Ruby and what scary levels of power he's attained. We're in for it now ...
clubinthesky on March 24th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
It's never too late for this episode, I really enjoyed reading your meta. ♥
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
Thank you! And thank you again for having provided the icon that I've been using to death lately; I love the image! (As you can probably tell, huh?)
(no subject) - clubinthesky on March 26th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on March 24th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Hey there!

I often found myself in agreement with you, but here I was nodding enthusiastically at everything you said.

It was, indeed, a marvelous episode, and there is so much to say about it that one review is clearly not enough. But you managed to raise the main points, I think.

Things are more and more complex and I love it. At the beginning of the season I was a bit worried about where the God and Angels thing was leading us, but I like the way it was dealt with so far.

Like you, I didn't quite believe the thing about John holding for a hundred years (the "Jack Bauer of Hell", haha). I like your explanation. I will hold to it until they prove you wrong.

And it was so good to see proof of Sam's love for his brother, and that his words in "Sex and Violence" were true, but distorted by the siren's influence. I also would have liked to see him with his hurt brother after he killed Alistair. About that, I have a rec for you: go and read gaelicspirit's tag to the episode, and you will be fully satisfied (hopefully):


About Ruby and Sam: Sam's dark little secret is now out in the open, and I hope it was the last one. I think it made a lot of sense, and if I wasn't sure that Ruby had a hidden agenda, now I am. I've never thought much of Genevieve's acting, but her little smile when Sam is drinking her blood was chilling. Brr.

Thank you so much for the meta, Mary!


bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
Thank you, Elsa! I think I'm going to be doing a pure Supernatural University post one of these days, to explore more of what we've been learning in more depth. There has been so MUCH going on ...

I'm looking forward to seeing Dean learning Sam's secret; we know it, but Dean doesn't, yet. And I also look forward to Sam learning what we now know about Dean having unwittingly opened the first Seal. Oh, boy.

Thanks for the link to gaelicspirit's tag; I really do enjoy her work!

Less than an hour to go ...
sophie_deangirlsophie_deangirl on March 24th, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC)
Totally on the same page with you!

As always we are on the same page and on the same vibe with this episode and you covered things that came as afterthoughts in my blog, I actually had to add an addendum for points I had forgotten.

I know what you mean about feeling like a latecomer. I feel the same way. These episodes have SO much lovely mythology and pathos that it's like there's not enough time in the world to cover everything I want to say about them and I always feel late in writing my blogs. This episode, in particular, felt HUGE!!!! So much going on!!! What I love is that what I don't see or catch, you do and I revel in your observations.

My favorite point you made was about John and whether he was truly a righteous man and that even if what Alistair was saying was true, that John survived for 100 years and never broke, would it have mattered? Sadly, like you said, Dean holds John in such high regard, it will be good enough that Dean will think that John was a righteous man, a hero, in his eyes and John not breaking just elevates his esteem in Dean's eyes, contrary to that, it only devolves Dean's view of himself because he doesn't see himself as THE righteous man, just a weak one because he gave in, shedding blood in Hell. I prefer to think that what Alistair said about John was a lie. I truly believe that Dean's biggest obstacle will be to forgive himself for being human and finally letting go of his father's looming shadow over him, to stop comparing his actions with his father's.

I LOVED your point about Castiel!! And I TOTALLY agree!! Castiel managed to keep himself true to his belief in a benevolent God and still question what he was being asked to do. I love to think that Dean's having an influence on Castiel and I hope that Castiel can bring Dean out of his dark world with some faith towards Dean himself.

You and I were TOTALLY on the same page about Dean being the most qualified to meet the righteous man definition by how he's lived his life. Saving people. My favorite line you said, "He was always about others" and "He did it just for itself, not with any expectation that doing it would benefit him..." SO, SO TRUE! And SO Dean wrapped up in a manly bow!

I loved your view of Sam too. I felt the same Sam you did here. Sam may be drinking Ruby's blood (once again, ewww), but for once, it came from a love for his brother, to save Dean as Dean as saved Sam so many times in the past. It was nice to see.

I'll end with my ABSOLUTE FAVE Dean testimonial you made:

"He is still Dean Winchester, and that means he's constitutionally incapable of just standing by while other people are hurt or killed."

Hallelujah! Awesome as usual, Mary!
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
Re: Totally on the same page with you!
Gee, why am I not surprised that we thought alike, Sophie? *grin*

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to comments; it's almost time for the next episode to start! I'd better get cracking ... :)
jennk528jennk528 on March 24th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for another insightful, balanced review and meta. I get so tired of the grumbling and bitching over at TWoP (so why do I keep going back? *sigh* Good question), that it's such a relief to come here and read your thoughtful, non-ranting recaps.

Totally in agreement with wanting a scene with Sam checking on Dean after Sam killed Alistair! That just felt so wrong to not have that...

And guh, those scenes between Alistair and Dean? Emmy-worthy, indeed. I think I stopped breathing there for several minutes! JA was amazing. Again.

Here's hoping that Dean can't get any lower than he is right now. I'm with you - I couldn't take much more!

It will be an interesting last few episodes...

bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
Thanks for coming! I don't dare venture over into TWoP: the negativity level over there would sour my stomach for sure. I prefer my safe little haven of balance ... *wry grin*

This has been an amazing season, and I'm looking forward to it continuing in the same vein. Wow!
(Anonymous) on March 24th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
Great review, absolutely wonderful. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to write it. It's definitely worth the wait. I totally agree on your opinion about Dean being uniquely suited to be the righteous man, I think that's why the demons didn't let him out of his deal in the first place. They got him right where they wanted him to be. I'm not really buying that story about the 'unbreakable' John Winchester. I hope that Dean find's a way to leave that all behind.
Did I mention that I love your reviews?
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
Thank you, Doreen!

And did I mention thank you? *grin*
(Anonymous) on March 24th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
I wait patiently each week for your review, since their is no other I read but yours. You can come late to the party anytime. It just lets me know you put lots of thought into what you have to say. Thanks again for another great review!! I would like to also say thank you for mentioning that this is an alternate version of Revelation. I have read Revelation more than once and it's important that everyone understand that Supernatural's version is very different than what the Bible actually says. I appreciated the advancement of Castiel storyline in this episode. I think it was needed, especially if he is coming back next season. I will have to go back and watch this episode again because I missed the look on Ruby's face as Sam was drinking her blood. I was to busy yelling NO! to the T.V. and the writer's for letting him do that. Now I know where the shame comes from. Dean would freak if he knew. "Drinking her blood", that phrase is just so wrong. I really missed that scene as well. I would have love to see Sam go from warrior to brother in a matter of minutes and I have no doubt that Jared could have pulled it off with flying colors. Let me know your thoughts. Can't wait for your next review.
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
Re: supernaturalfan
Thank you!

I really look forward to Sam and Dean learning each other's secrets the way that we did this past episode. At least as of the moment the episode ended, based just on what we saw, Sam still didn't know that Dean had broken the first Seal, and Dean still didn't know that Sam powered up by drinking Ruby's demon blood. The brothers are going to have to share knowledge, if only because Castiel knows the truth about Dean and how overpowering Sam has become, and Cas is unlikely to conceal those things from the brothers.

We have much to look forward to yet this season, and much to fear ...
(Anonymous) on March 24th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Mary, it was beautiful!

I was looking forward to your review ‘cause I knew you wouldn’t entirely believe in John holding out for 120 years either. I had a few explanations. Maybe Alastair was just lying. Or maybe they didn’t try with John that hard and for so long ‘cause they were not sure till the opening of the Devil’s Gate, and then Lilith got free, became a new leader and started to work on this plan with redoubled energy. Maybe they tried much, much harder with Dean finding out that angels were aware of their plan and, as Cas said, laid siege to Hell and fought their way to get to Dean. But I guess your explanation is the best. It makes perfect sense, thank you for it! …If only Dean knew how many people out there believe in him!..

And I think Dean feels that he is not all here because he did leave part of himself back in the Pit - - part of himself which he is scared of, which he cannot accept, which is horrible to him. That's why he feels the hole that he cannot fill, he cannot accept himself entirely, he don’t know who he is anymore. So I guess what he needs is to face it, and to get that missing piece of a puzzle back, even if it is dark and scary piece, because he will not be whole without it.

It's hard to imagine that Dean can get over it... but I believe now, when he is crashed and it seems there is nothing left, it is exact time for Dean to start to build himself anew. He hit the rock bottom, 'cause hopefully it cannot get worse than this, he literally reached the bottom - which means he stopped falling. And now he can start to rise. He can’t just let himself lie there, ‘cause "he is still Dean Winchester". And he is still much stronger than Sam for me. Because Sam just put "the Ring of Power" on, it is great weakness, not strength as he sees it.

I hope it makes any sense…

And you should never feel sorry for the amount of time you need to write this! Don’t even think about it! As we all know, YOU CAN'T RUSH PERFECTION!

Sorry for my English, love, Vicky.
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
Thank you, Vicky, and don't apologize; your English is just fine!

I love your image of Sam having put on the One Ring; what a great analogy! Here's hoping that he can find the strength within himself to take it off again, or that Dean can help him do it. I can't help but think that Sam's jeopardy will help Dean return to himself, to be the brother Sam so desperately needs.

Just ten minutes to the next episode ... I need to get set!
yourlibrarianyourlibrarian on March 25th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
I wonder whether that was entirely an attempt to appeal to Castiel’s known attitudes and beliefs, or if it reflects a new and more developed understanding on Anna’s part since the recovery of her angelic grace.

One of the things I'd originally wondered about during the episode was if Anna had been behind the deaths, given that in HaH when Sam asked if angels could be killed she said they could, but not with anything they immediately had at hand. I also wondered if she had been discovering for herself, during this time, what had actually been happening.

Along with wondering how many angels are in the garrison, I'd also wondered if these angels are, in fact, all that's left, only they don't know it. Also, who is giving the orders to do things like save Dean, or set up some test in Great Pumpkin? Given what we now know of Uriel, perhaps he wanted Sam and Dean to be left to save the seal, because he believed they'd fail.

if triggering the Apocalypse was his goal, the arrival of the right, fated righteous man in Hell

I'd been wondering for some time what made Sam so special and why Dean was passed over by Azazel. And I wonder now if he didn't find Mary interesting because he expected that her children would also become hunters, and that by "righteous" this meant "soldier for the other side." We don't know what would have happened had the YED not been interrupted in Devil's Trap. Maybe John made a deal with the YED because he sensed while possessed that it had been part of Azazel's plan all along.

At the same time I wonder if Dean's appearance in hell was unique not because of his soldiering, but because of the reason he went. The angels' highest calling, for example, is obedience to duty. And Dean made the deal as much out of duty as personal desire.

He can’t be sure that Dean hasn’t changed in other ways, and that some of them might make him reject Sam as he never would have before.

Interesting idea, must ponder.

with making the death of Alastair perfectly echo the death of Azazel. In effect, Sam Winchester ironically has become a living Colt

Hmmmm. Good callback, yes. It makes me think of Dean's role to John as Sam's to Dean. After all, Alistair was Dean's tormenter for longer than Azazel was John's.
karenmiller: Harleykarenmiller on March 25th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
Or is possible that Sam was chosen by Azazel because he's *not* righteous, in the way Dean is a righteous man? That somehow the demon knew Dean was the wrong matrix. Or is it because he met adult Dean in the past that he knew to pass him over and choose Sam instead?
(no subject) - yourlibrarian on March 25th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
zofia27: Sadzofia27 on March 25th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
Great job Professor! There was so much in this episode and you were able to organize the thoughts running through my head. I can't think of anything else to add.

I know some folks don't particular like this season but I'm loving it. I can't wait to see where Kripke takes it.
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Thank you, Zofia! I'm loving this season, which is perhaps obvious from the reviews ... *wry grin*
Super Freak and a Half: Routhfruitynut on March 25th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Long time reader, first time poster. Thank you for all your hard work to analyze such a wonderful show. I greatly appreciate it and echo everyone else's opinions, yours is the review I most anticipate.

One thing I'd like to ponder is the Azazel and Lillith relationship. Azazel had his plan and was the leader in hell, I wonder if Lillith was like his begrudged second in command, or at least one of the top dogs under him. And like office politics and behind closed doors jockeying, Lillith had her own agenda. Alistair may have been #1 torturer in hell but he was a career man, loving his job, not really on anyone's side, just doing whatever his supervisors told him to do. So, when Azazel took John, he got the Colt and took a thorn out of his side while Lillith may have seen John as a potential righteous man. Kind of like the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

Then Azazel died and Lillith rose to power, buying up all the deals looking for the prophesized righteous man who coincidentally is a Winchester. Lillith's plan is to raise Lucifer, Dean was the first seal to break Lucifer's bonds, the angels are fighting to keep that from happening, but Sam isn't a part of that. He was part of Azazel's unknown plan. I have to wonder, since Lillith wanted to kill Sam and couldn't, that Sam is the last surviving psychic kid under Azazel's tutelage, he's the wild card in all of this.

The angels want Sam to stop because they don't know where it'll lead. Demon blood is evil, but Sam is not, as evidenced by Alistair's mention in Death Takes a Holiday. So, neither side knows where Sam will fall on.

Peace Love and Cheese
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's always nice to meet someone new for the first time! (And being from Wisconsin originally, I also appreciate the cheese!)

I like the thought of Sam as a wild card, able to fall in different directions depending on his choice. I keep thinking that personal choice is a major theme in this show, and that choice can trump fate or destiny. And I've never believed that Sam is destined to be evil, although it's perilously clear that he could fall that way, all while never intending to and believing that his cause was just.

Azazel and Lilith having different goals and different plans and playing both ends against the middle makes perfect sense to me. Azazel played his cards close to the vest, and even the angels couldn't figure out his endgame - an endgame that may or may not still play out, and where in all of that does Ruby figure? But when Lilith set out to break the seals, and to start by breaking Dean, the angels learned her plan and began to try to thwart it. How did they learn what she intended to do, when they'd never learned Azazel's intent? Did someone not part of Lilith's plans, someone who wanted Lilith destroyed, tip them off? Did the angels have a belated epiphany about Dean's potential to be the "righteous man" of prophecy?

We have so much delicious story to look forward to, and I can't wait, even knowing that much of it will doubtless be torture. Yikes!
ch3lls on March 25th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
They're well worth the wait. I -love- your thoughts on the episodes.
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you like them, and I'm doubly glad you told me so!!
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable womenmissyjack on March 26th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Wonderful insights on what i do agee was a quite magnificent piece of televison in all respects. I think you are spot on with your interpretation of Sam - how his desire to do right by dean has now shaded into hsi rationalisaiton for enjoying this new power.
And eys the perfromances were all stellar and demonstarted a huge range givenm there both 'big' emotional moments, and very subtle ones too.
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 26th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! All the revelations in this episode were earth-shattering, and where we go from here is something I can't wait to see, especially knowing that we will have a fifth season to finish the story the way it was intended to be, and the way we constantly feared we wouldn't get to see it happen. Bring it on!
(Anonymous) on March 26th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
comments from scifimouse
I agree with your assessment that perhaps John was not enough of a "righteous man" for the prophecy. My friend and I were talking about this the other day, and she pointed out that of the three Winchesters, Dean is the only one that did it purely for the enjoyment of it and for the satisfaction he got knowing he was helping people. Sam and John always had that element of revenge in the back of their minds, having both witnessed the woman they loved killed in the same way. yes, Dean lost his mother, but he was so young. For him, revenge was much less of a motivating factor.

If it is true that John never gave in (which seems unlikely to me), perhaps he had more information than Dean. If John knew that by picking up the blade, he would begin the apocalypse, that might have made him strong enough to resist.
"just hurt other people who are in hell and are going to be tortured anyway - and we won't hurt you anymore"
is very different from
"just start the apocalypse and cause hell on earth for all mankind, including your sons - and we won't hurt you anymore"

I would imagine that if Dean had known that bit of information, he would have at least been able to hold out longer.

***Like you, I wish we could have seen Sam reacting to his unconscious and bloody brother laying on the floor. I love those moments and I was disappointed that they skipped it.

oh, and don't feel bad that it takes you longer. good things take time. your analyses are definitely worth the wait. :)
bardicvoice: DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>bardicvoice on March 27th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
Re: comments from scifimouse
Thank you, Mouse!

Interesting thought, that Dean might have held out longer if he'd known the truth of what would happen if he failed. I do wonder about all the things that John knew and never said, but I would bet money that he never guessed that his firstborn son would become a tool of prophecy, when all his fear was bent toward the thought that his second son might be the one to go that route. Arrgh!