8.14 Trial And Error: This Is My Perfect Ending
God's obstacle course:
Three deadly trials prepare one
To slam shut Hell's gates.
Commentary And Meta Analysis
This episode clearly set the stage for the rest of the season, and perhaps longer. I particularly loved the honesty we got from both of the brothers and the way their respective declarations demonstrated the profound differences in their mindsets facing the quest to close the gates of Hell. With Sam now committed to perform the trials, I really hope the honesty continues, although I'm betting it won't at first.
In this discussion, I'm going to speculate about Kevin's difficulties with translating the tablet and what that may mean for the quest, and I'm going to look at where Dean and Sam stand psychologically and emotionally.
I Figured Out How To Close The Gates Of Hell
I'm going to start this little section by saying I don't think the brothers are actually going to be able to close the gates of Hell and permanently banish all demons from the Earth. I'm betting they're either going to fall short or deliberately stop short, whether because the directions they get are incomplete or because they learn before taking the final step that the unintended consequences might be more dire for the world than leaving things as they are. Let me explain my thinking. Let me also acknowledge up front I may be entirely wrong!
This line of speculation begins with my acute awareness that Kevin is working with only half a tablet, after it broke in the struggle between Castiel and Crowley in A Little Slice Of Kevin. While interpreting the Leviathan tablet – and some of the demon one before it was broken – always cost him some effort, it wasn't anything close to the all-consuming struggle he faces now. He's been forced to push himself to his physical and mental limits to wrest even partial understanding from the fragment he possesses, and I think the reason it's so hard is precisely because the tablet is broken.
This is all purely speculation on my part, but I don't think our heroes simply lucked out in getting the half of the tablet that just happens to contain the essential information for closing the gates of Hell, while Crowley by chance got the less important half. Instead, I rather fancy the encryption on the tablet that rendered it unreadable by anyone other than a prophet dispersed all of its information in seemingly random bits and pieces across the entire tablet, rather like connectionless packet switching in a digital communications network. With the tablet intact, I would guess the prophet's gift let Kevin, with concentration, assemble the pieces into coherent message strings. With the tablet broken and half of it missing, however, I think half of all of its information may be inaccessible, forcing Kevin to try imposing order on chaos, assembling fragmented words in no particular order out of only partial, out-of-focus letters jumbled together, and then interpolating the missing bits.
And I think that may bite our heroes in the ass by leaving them with incomplete information when they don't even know where the holes are. I'm guessing it could also open avenues for potential misinterpretation by Kevin about what any given piece actually means or where it specifically fits. According to Kevin's partial translation, one person would need to put aside fear of danger, death, and a peculiarly specific form of eternal torment to undertake and complete three trials before he could close the gates of Hell, and he would need to speak a simple spell of just a few words in Enochian after completing each trial. So far, Kevin deciphered only one of those trials: killing a hellhound and bathing in its blood. He didn't translate the Enochian spell. As far as I can tell, Sam spoke the words without knowing what they meant. I would guess the spell binds the caster to the resolve to close the gates of Hell, and judging on its results, perhaps has the effect of pulling into the caster the energy released by his completion of the task to fortify him for what he eventually must accomplish. However, that's a guess and nothing more.
It remains to be seen whether Kevin will be able to determine all the steps of all three of the required trials. If any step is missing or incomplete in any respect, it might cause the whole attempt to fail, and who knows what backlash might hit the person making the attempt?
And then there's the question of what it would mean to close the gates of Hell and banish all demons forever. In Supernatural's cosmology, all human souls – with the exception of those transformed into monsters, and possibly those who refuse their Reapers and become ghosts – go either to Heaven or Hell upon death, depending on the choices they made in life. We learned that from the Alpha vampire in Family Matters, and got further confirmation from subsequent episodes. Monsters go to Purgatory, and we still don't know what happens to ghosts whose bones are burned, but otherwise, humans have a binary choice: up or down, Heaven or Hell. As we learned in multiple episodes throughout season six, those souls wind up providing the power for the realms where they reside.
So what would happen if the gates of Hell were closed? Would that closure operate only one way – preventing demons and souls in Hell from coming back to Earth – or would it also close Hell to new human souls? Responding to Sam's comment about Ellie being bound for Hell when she died even if she managed to hide from Crowley and his hellhounds, Dean clearly assumed “closing Hell” meant exactly that: no one in as well as no one out.
If that were the way things went, however, what would happen to all those human souls who chose evil in life and would ordinarily have been bound for Hell? It's not at all clear all souls would by default go to Heaven. Purgatory doesn't seem the automatic choice, either; in the show's canon, it has always been the province of monsters, not other human souls.
What if … the closure of Hell meant human souls earmarked for Hell would instead be trapped on Earth, becoming angry spirits – evil angry spirits – by default? Considering the threat such an increase in the number of ghosts could pose to the living, particularly since there wouldn't be enough hunters in the world to keep the living safe from them, the closure of Hell could be a Very Bad Thing, not at all what Dean was imagining as the good that would result. And since we still don't know for certain what happens to ghosts whose bones are burned, what would be the fate of all the new ghosts “killed” by hunters? Total destruction? And over time, what would happen to Hell – particularly including the integrity of the hidden prison cage holding Lucifer and Michael – if its soul power source was cut off? Would the integrity of Hell wind up being compromised, potentially resulting in certain currently imprisoned but non-demon souls/spirits/essences being released?
One more thought on binary choices: what if closing the gates of Hell meant closing off Heaven too? Duality and balance play a big part in creation in Supernatural's cosmology: good/evil, angels/demons, Heaven/Hell. Closing off one half would seem to create an imbalance foreign to the established arrangement. Closing off both, on the other hand, could preserve that balance. But if that were to happen, what would it mean for people who died? Where would their souls and all that power go after their physical deaths? Dean and Sam have a jaundiced view of both realms, after all they've learned from experience, but they also know the Heavenly afterlife offers happiness and peace, however artificial; it's not clear what would apply if both Heaven and Hell were closed. Would souls go somewhere else? Would they remain bound to Earth somehow? Would they dissipate into power without consciousness? It might be easy to imagine no Heaven, no Hell, and no religion as bringing perfect peace, but it's equally easy to imagine the result being perfect horror, depending on people's attitudes. After all, some would say, if this life is all there is, why not grab as much of it for yourself as you can?
I'm betting that, even if Kevin had the entire tablet, it wouldn't provide the answers to any of these “what if” questions. Kevin had the complete Leviathan tablet and deciphered it to determine how to kill Leviathan – but nothing he reported from the tablet even remotely hinted at what would happen to someone who followed the recipe and pulled it off. There was no warning that anyone close to the dying Leviathan would be dragged off to Purgatory, body and soul. Consequence doesn't seem to feature in the tablets. I would bet the demon tablet says nothing about either the effect on our world of closing the gates of Hell, or what would happen to someone completing the trials and either succeeding or failing in closing the gates.
Purely from a storytelling perspective, I think there's another reason this specific quest might not succeed: I think it may be time for the brothers to face a challenge and consciously decide that the right thing to do – for themselves and the world – is to walk away from it. Always before, they've set out to achieve quests and paid whatever price was demanded. Sometimes it turned out to be the wrong quest and the wrong price. For example, Dean selling his soul to bring Sam back led to his breaking the first Seal in Hell, and Sam trying so desperately to avert the Apocalypse was blind to being deceived into breaking the last Seal that brought it on.
I wonder if it might not be time for the older, hopefully wiser brothers to think carefully about the potential consequences of a goal they're pursuing and perhaps decide, for the very first time, that it's the wrong goal. They want to slam the gates of Hell for revenge and to finally be done with the most persistent enemies they've dealt with all their lives, the demons who killed their mother, their father, their maternal grandparents, their paternal grandfather, and manipulated and tormented them. The idea of saving others from what they've experienced of Hell is there too, but it's a distant second to achieving their personal payback. After this one big score, Dean sees many vanquished enemies and a contented death, and Sam sees a chance to say he's done enough to finally walk away from hunting. But I wonder if this time, they might look a bit further ahead to think about what might come next not just for them but for the world, and perhaps realize their nuclear option could trigger a nuclear winter that might be even worse than continuing the ages-old fight with the devil they know.
Then again, with the old balance between Heaven and Hell already having been skewed dramatically by demons discovering for the first time how to bind and kill angels and angels having decimated their own ranks through civil war, perhaps all bets are off and a new revision to creation is exactly what's needed to deprive both sides in that conflict of power already gone awry. Perhaps it's time for humans to use the tablets of God's Word to achieve a new creation, one with no Heaven and no Hell, except for what humans build for themselves.
All we can do is wonder – and wait and see.
If You Come With Me, I Can Take You To It
Sam and Dean have always been very different characters with very different views of themselves, the world, their roles, and their futures, and the speeches each brother made about why he should be the one to undertake the trials laid that out perfectly. In their own essential words:
We've been down roads like this before, man. With Yellow Eyes, Lucifer, Dick Frigging Roman. We both know where this ends: one of us dies. Or worse. … I'm a grunt, Sam. You're not. You've always been the brains of this operation. And you told me yourself, you see a way out. You see a light at the end of this ugly-ass tunnel. I don't. But I'll tell you what I do know, is that I'm going to die with a gun in my hand. Because that's what I have waiting for me. That's all I have waiting for me. I want you to get out. I want you to have a life. Become a Man of Letters, whatever. You with a wife and kids and grandkids, living until you're fat and bald and chugging Viagra. That is my perfect ending and it's the only one I'm gonna get. So I'm gonna do
these trials and I'm gonna do them alone. End of story.
Closing the gates. It's a suicide mission for you. I want to slam Hell shut too, okay? But I want to survive it. I want to live. And so should you. You have friends up here, family. Hell, you've even got your own room now. You were right, 'kay? I see a light at the end of this tunnel, and I'm sorry you don't. I am. But it's there. And if you come with me, I can take you to it. … You're not a grunt, Dean. You're a genius. When it comes to lore – you're the best damn hunter I've ever seen. Better than me. Better than Dad. I believe in you, Dean, so please, please, believe in me, too.
From the very beginning of the series, Dean always lived in the present and Sam always looked to the future, reflecting their different expectations and desires. Dean wanted to preserve what he had – his family, his father and his brother, together doing what they were accustomed to doing – and never saw any way for it to end for him other than dying in harness. There would always be monsters, always be people to save, always be things to hunt, and sooner or later, a hunt would go bad, his luck or skill would run out, and he – not his father or his brother – would die. End of story. Sam, on the other hand, always wanted something better, always wanted to escape to safe normalcy; he wanted a life not lived on a razor's edge, not doomed to end bloody and sad. That fueled his desire to find a way to win the hunting game and be able to leave the field. The brothers had this same argument before in multiple years; just look at such episodes as Shadow and Criss Angel Is A Douchebag. Perversely, those differing views always made Dean largely ignore his pessimistic future and focus instead on being content and happy in his immediate life, while Sam was chronically dissatisfied and impatient with his present, wanting to get past it to his brighter future. Happy pessimist and unhappy optimist: the brothers made quite a pair of contradictory emotional bookends.
This time, however, they took this conversation further. While repeating his same eternally bleak view of his future, painted in the usual dull colors of his persistent lack of self-esteem, Dean expressed the earnest desire for Sam to be free to have the life he always wanted, saying that Sam being happy would be Dean's perfect ending. Dean flatly admitted he couldn't see any future for himself, and determined instead to spend his life in the fight to open the way for Sam's freedom. There wasn't much new there – Dean has always undervalued himself, defining his worth solely in terms of being a damage-absorbing barrier protecting others, and he was always determined to sacrifice himself particularly to keep Sam safe, yielding that control and decision to Sam only in Swan Song – but this was the first time I recall Dean explicitly accepting a safe, hunting-free life as an acceptable, even desireable goal for his brother. The problem with that decision is Dean clearly sees no place for himself in that life, since he simply can't conceive of being truly happy without hunting and having Sam by his side. And since the warped, incomplete impression he got from Sam's relationship with Amelia was that Sam could live quite contentedly without him, he would prefer to go out in a last major blaze of glory, magnanimously opening the way for his brother's happiness. And that is so very, very wrong.
The real difference I loved in this episode was Sam's determination this time not to accept sacrificing either of them, but to find a way for them both to win and survive – and particularly, to find a way to share with Dean his own hopeful vision of the future. Sam touched on something very strong and very true: you tend to find what you look for, because your expectations limit your search. Expecting a suicide mission is the surest way to die on one because you'll see only one line to your goal and you won't guard yourself or fight against the fate you believe is inevitable. For Dean to have undertaken the trials with that as his mindset would have been an invitation to Death to come calling, and no mistake. It's one thing to accept that you might die and acknowledge you're willing to pay that price if necessary to achieve your goal; it's something totally different to go looking for an acceptably heroic death just to end the life you have without being accused of committing suicide.
And that says something vastly disturbing about Dean's current mental state. Prior to Kevin revealing the three trials as the way to close the gates of Hell, Dean had been positively revelling in his newfound home and in his resumed partnership and recently renewed brotherhood with Sam, despite having had to sever his connection with Benny to achieve it. Dean's hunter skills were refined and honed to a diamond edge by his year of combat in Purgatory; his return to Earth saw his manifold rededication to his mission of saving people and hunting things. The discovery of the Men of Letters' bunker and its unexpected resources provided a home he'd never thought he'd have, and had the added benefit of awakening pleasure in Sam by opening new avenues of knowledge for his mind-hungry brother to pursue. But as soon as Kevin revealed the potentially deadly terms of the new quest, Dean's attitude changed: he went from nesting happily to pursuing self-sacrifice almost in a heartbeat. His manifest pleasure in living in the present was overtaken almost instantly by his willingness to accept death in exchange for closing Hell as quickly as possible, simultaneously freeing Sam to live a non-hunting life, this time with his deliberate blessing instead of the sense of betrayal Sam's unexpected relationship with Amelia had evoked.
I'm certain a number of fans are disappointed that Dean still sells himself so short, even after all the things he's accomplished, but I appreciate the consistency precisely because the hardest change to effect is the one you have to make inside your own head. We all tell ourselves every day what we believe to be true, and that mental script defines and colors everything we see and feel. We create our internal reality, and it may have very little to do with the reality others perceive. Look at an anorexic who still perceives herself fat when she's starved herself down to skin and bones, or the self-conscious guy who can't talk to a woman because he's convinced she'll think he's an unattractive idiot. Perception is the key, and accurate self-perception is hard because our mental mirrors can be as warped as those in a carnival funhouse.
If anyone doubted how damaged Dean is, they shouldn't doubt it now. And if anyone ever doubted Sam's love for and commitment to Dean, they shouldn't doubt that, either. The brothers have always skirted touchy-feely moments, but Sam recognized and answered Dean's depressive, self-destructive urge in this episode the same way he did in Fresh Blood: by emphasizing Dean's value and importance to him. But this time, Sam went further: having had the recent experience with Amelia of a taste of the kind of future he wanted, he tried to share with Dean his positive vision of a hopeful future for both of them. He tried to make Dean see himself the way Sam saw him: smart and gifted and brave, the best hunter in the world, a man who deserved to live, and more. And if Dean couldn't see that quite yet, he asked Dean to believe in him as he believed in Dean.
And that was where a very tiny kernel of hope took root, because Dean, despite his own inclination, yielded to Sam and let Sam take the lead in the current quest. However reluctantly and grudgingly, Dean conceded the burden of completing the trials to his brother. And whatever else that means, it affords Dean his only possible chance of survival because it would have been a suicide mission for him, and now – it isn't. Not necessarily. And it's not automatically sacrificial for Sam either, because this time, Sam isn't looking to die. This is not just Swan Song, redux; this is a gamble that there's a way out – or through – for both of them.
For me, the proof will be in the pudding, but I expect it to be lumpy. The mature thing would be for Sam to be open with Dean about what the quest is costing him, and for Dean to admit how hard it is for him to stand by and see Sam hurt or stressed, but I don't expect that – at least, not at first. I suspect the brothers will fall back on old patterns, with Sam trying to pretend that everything is all right so Dean won't feel guilty or worry about whatever pain Sam is in, and with Dean getting angry to hide feeling ever more worthless for being unable to prove his value and valor by being the self-sacrificing hero at the heart of the quest. What can I say? It's human to find it far easier to do things the way you always have in the hope of them working out even when you've seen that turn out badly before, than to take the scary step of doing the unexpected right from the start. Someday, I hope the writers will let the guys admit that trying to maintain a facade of bravado to protect the other or hide perceived weakness always, always makes the fallout worse in the end, and just have them decide to bite the bullet and be emotionally honest with each other before the shit hits the fan. In the absence of focused therapy, however, that's not a very guy thing to do, and these behavior patterns are so deeply ingrained in both of the brothers that it's hard to get their wheels out of the ruts until something outside intervenes.
The immediate effects on Sam of the spell following the first hellhound trial looked similar to Dean taking on Benny's soul in the Purgatory flashback in A Little Slice Of Kevin; an infusion of power into Sam's arm similar to but different from the light of Sam's own soul. As we saw in We Need To Talk About Kevin, Dean experienced increasing, physically debilitating pain in his arm until he was able to turn Benny loose again on Earth by cutting his arm and bleeding Benny's soul back over his bones. I suspect Sam will suffer similar adverse effects, particularly as time goes on and he receives more pieces of the activating spell to close the gates of Hell. I hope he'll share what he's feeling with Dean sooner rather than later, both because I think Dean may have information to share – his experience carrying Benny out of Purgatory – and because Sam hiding things would create suspicion and resentment, bringing back old, bad memories of Sam's demon-blood-drinking days. And if Sam is rendered off his hunter game as they pursue the quest, he's going to need to have Dean protecting him from all the things not directly germane to the quest. I'm convinced this has to be a team effort to succeed; that it's going to take both of the brothers in concert to accomplish what they're trying to achieve.
Or to turn aside from it, if that's the way things go.
From what we've seen so far this season, I think both Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin write better and more consistently separately than they do together on this show. Separately, they seem less inclined to go overboard on the sophomoric humor index. I loved what Dabb brought to this script, particularly in the brother moments. Unlike Rufus's cabin or Bobby's place, the bunker holds no memories or personalities of people the brothers have lost – no one's been in it since 1958, and Henry hadn't even known about it – so they're free to put their own stamp on it in ways no other place has offered. Dean “nesting” in his first solo room since he was four was adorable, and I loved the callbacks to what he learned about kitchens and cooking – including the manly art of suburban barbeque! – from his year with Lisa and Ben. The brothers' positions concerning undertaking the trials and the way things fell to Sam by circumstance, not because he was deliberately trying to undercut his brother or prove his own strength, felt both right and satisfying to me. And I really, truly want Sam to be able to give Dean some of his hope for the future through his determination for both of them to survive this time.
The story was weak when it came to the squabbling Cassitys, employing convenient old horror tropes to kill off Carl and Margo and glossing over why Sam didn't notice Alice's growing unease and why the hound didn't go after Alice when she cut and ran, but that didn't particularly bother me because the Cassitys weren't the point. I do wonder whether the brothers offered Alice a hex bag and the same hide-and-run advice they gave Ellie. I don't think their survival potential is high in any case, because while a hex bag might prevent scrying and other magical detection, Crowley has demonstrated a very practical and clever turn of mind; knowing Ellie made her deal to save her mother, I think he'd just use her mother to find her. Begs the question of why Bela, with all her knowledge, hadn't used a hex bag to hide from her hound back in season three, but I can hand-wave that one by observing Bela was intent on negotiating to change her deal, and couldn't very well negotiate without communicating and revealing her location to Lilith.
Kevin Parks did a wonderful job in his first outing as a director. He had some real challenges to deal with, particularly in designing his scenes to integrate live action with complex visual effects in the climactic hellhound combat. This show uses a lot of VFX, and it's common for actors to be reacting to things that aren't there or that look dramatically different once the VFX team finishes with them in post production, but shooting direct physical interaction with nothing – like Sam wrestling with the hellhound – is emphatically not easy to do well. The director and the VFX team have to work in close concert to ensure that all the relative proportions, angles, and movement will work out when the visual elements are added in. The practical effect that really helped sell the moment – Sam stabbing and gutting the hound and being drenched in its blood and some intestinal bits – was a clever piece of careful camera framing. Jared Padalecki stabbed and sliced open a real bladder filled with goo that was rigged just above what the camera could see. It's an old trick, but a good one.
I'm guessing Parks block-shot all the scenes of Kevin waking up, Kevin falling into bed, Kevin pouring coffee, Kevin cooking, and Kevin studying and sticking things up on the wall the same way that Kim Manners block-shot the repetitive interior scenes in Mystery Spot. In block shooting, you save time by shooting all the scenes that require the same set and camera position – so, for example, all the scenes of Kevin falling into bed and Kevin waking and slapping the alarm off – one after the other, just tweaking the lighting level, set dressing and the actor's costume and makeup to reflect the passage of time. Then you move the cameras and lighting to deal with the next sequence – every time Kevin marked a day off on the calendar and stepped into the main room, say – and then to the next scene, Kevin cooking or pouring coffee or sitting down at the table or interacting with the wall of his research results. Block shooting challenges the actor to always be aware of where he is in the timeline so that, while he's doing essentially the same things, he's doing them in a way that reflects his state of mind in the moment, and challenges the director to be certain he got all the different times and moods he needed to get to sell the sequence as covering time. The resulting montage worked effectively to tell the tale of Kevin's obsessive commitment, and demonstrated great partnership and skill between Parks as director and Osric Chau as Kevin Tran. My only niggling comment on that whole sequence is the observation that 5 AM in Warsaw, Missouri in January and February would still have been pitch-dark, not dawn-bright, but I understand it wouldn't have worked as well visually to have Kevin waking up in the same darkness as when he fell asleep.
Speaking of lighting, Serge Ladouceur always does a magnificent job of painting Supernatural with his glorious cinematography, but this episode felt particularly rich in the visual textures of the boat, the Men of Letters' bunker, and the night scenes – including the one in Ellie's room, glowing golden with the sensual vibrancy of what she expected to be her last night – at the ranch. He has a gift for highlighting actors' faces in ways that intensify their expression, and I never tire of being surprised by what he achieves through the placement and shading of light. What Serge does with light, Chris Lennertz does with music, and I felt my heart tugged by the lovely little theme he had running as Dean claimed his room and Sam understood what it meant.
The VFX team earned a special shout-out for showing us our first visible hellhound and for their ghoulish transformation of hallucination-Dean. I loved the way the spell-treated glasses altered the whole quality of light at night, bleeding away color. I also liked that the glasses didn't make it easy to fight the hound, giving an elusive, constantly shimmering image as the hound moved, emphasizing its unearthly speed and providing detail only when it held still – and that was one scary dog when we saw it! The horror illusion of Dean as a monster was creepily effective, and I loved the way it subtly shaded even the hand he raised as he attempted to block from Ellie's sight what he knew she must be seeing from his own experience with hallucination-Sam in No Rest For The Wicked. As with the practical effect of the blood bladder selling the visual illusion of Sam killing the hound, I appreciated Dean's jacket fluttering in the breeze of the invisible hound's snorting breath; nice one!
I am loving what Osric Chau brings to Kevin. He keeps growing and developing every time we see him. The parallel of Kevin's desperation to bring things to an end and Dean's impatience to do the same – and Kevin following the same self-medication route Dean's used for years – implies scary things for Kevin's future, unless Sam can be the emotional rock for both of them. And I think that's going to be hard with Sam being the one earmarked to complete the trials.
Guest Danay Garcia did a stellar job as Ellie. She definitely came across as Dean's type – beautiful, strong, capable, brunette, smart, and sexy – and I bought her character. She played off Jensen Ackles to perfection, and I fully believed the warmth and spark between Ellie and Dean. As I said, I suspect Ellie's survival potential is low, and given her need to run and hide, I don't think we'll see her again – but if the brothers do manage to slam the gates of Hell, who knows? That could start a whole new game.
Jared and Jensen are always amazing, and their defining speech moments here were things I'll replay often, but there were so many additional small beats from both of them throughout this episode that I'll just have to watch the whole thing to keep enjoying them all. Jensen made Dean's delight in his room and his pride in his unexpected culinary skills palpable. Jared had Sam's empathy running throughout; he conveyed Sam's pleasure in Dean's happiness, his understanding of what it meant for Dean to display his photo of himself with Mary, and his understanding that – contrary to what both Kevin and Dean wished – their mission was going to require dogged endurance, not a quick sprint to the finish line. I heard echoes of Dean advising Sam to pace himself back in season one, when Sam was all impatient to just find Dad and get things over with; their roles have reversed again.
I'm looking forward to seeing what happens as the brothers pursue the trials and as we learn more about this whole mission to close the gates of Hell. I'm dying to learn what's going on in both Heaven and Hell as angels and demons contemplate the potential consequences of humans acting on the Word of God. And I'm wondering how my perceptions will change as we all learn more – and particularly if we learn completing these trials would be an error.
Apologies for the delay in posting this here: I've had problems with the LJ posting interface on Chrome. It's being a bitch. These posts always appear first on The Winchester Family Business: you might want to look there first.