caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Initial reaction 13.11: "Breakdown" (with bonus episode coda)

I'm going to consider "Breakdown" a tribute to Tom Petty. No one can convince me otherwise.

But Caranfindel, surely this was written before Tom Petty died -

Hush. {Puts a finger to your lips.} It's all right if you love me. It's all right if you don't.

THEN: Donna. Vampire cure. Doug 2.0. At this point, I'm pretty sure someone's going to turn into a vampire and need the cure (I know, I'm pretty clever, huh?) and that we're still in Wayward Sisters territory.

NOW: A nasty-looking place with blood, body parts in jars, a stereo, chains and hooks, and a guy in a heavy rubber apron and creepy, creepy mask.

Segue to Manny's Truck Stop Cafe in Oshkosh, Nebraska, where the Y is strategically burned out to form Mann's. A shoutout to Jason Manns, I assume. The few people inside look up as a young woman comes in to say the card reader at the pump isn't working. She hands her credit card and ID over to the super creepy cashier, and we find out her name is Hanscum. Oh, that settles it. She's obviously related to Donna and is going to join the Wayward Sisters party. The creepy, creepy cashier runs her card, she pumps gas (into an Impala, no less, though a newer one), avoids yet another creepy person who wants to wash her windows, then drives off. To safety, yes? No, because she gets a flat. That would be Breakdown Number 1 in this episode. A truck driver passes her by instead of stopping for help, and she notices a spike in her tire. Then she's attacked and abducted by yet another person in a creepy mask. A lot of creepy here tonight, friends.

Title card!

A clock ticks from 5:59 to 6:00, and we pan over to see a troubled-looking Sam Winchester lying in bed. So this episode is bumped up a notch already. 8:22 and he's still there, awake and looking... depressed? Dean bangs on the door and announces he's making pancakes, and asks how many Sam wants. Sam doesn't answer, he just goes back into his depressed non-sleep. Oh my god, guys. What's going on here? Are we seeing some emotion from Sam? Is this Breakdown Number 2? At 10:00 he's still in bed (oh my god I can't stand it) when his phone rings. It's Donna.

Next we're in the kitchen, where Dean gently mocks him for sleeping late and tells him he saved him some pancakes. But Sam's not here for pancakes. He puts Donna on the speaker and she tells them her niece is missing. She knows it's "not their thing," but the local cops aren't... something. Well, they're not Winchesters, that's for damn sure. "Text us the address," Dean says, "we're on our way."

Something inside you is feeling like I do, friends. And that feeling is depressed single-layer Sam and domestic Dean. We've said all there is to say.

The Impala rolls up to where Donna is standing outside some large industrial building. The guys are in overcoats, which is always a plus. We don't officially know her niece's name at this point, but I'm going to go ahead and call her Wendy. Wendy's car was found at the side of the road, with signs of a struggle. She was taking a gap year to... drive around Nebraska? Oh, I hope she was just passing through. Donna feels guilty, because she used to tell Wendy how much she enjoyed her own gap year. I hope it was some place better than Nebraska. Doug 2.0 is also here, talking to the local law enforcement.

Dean goes inside and glances over Wendy's clearly inferior version of an Impala. As he notices the tire spike, a man in a suit - one of the locals, I suppose - asks what he's doing. Dean starts a snarky response, for no reason whatsoever, but is saved when Doug 2.0 comes over and introduces Agent Clegg to "Agent Savage, FBI." I'm going to assume Dean was going by Savage when he met Doug, I can't remember. So this means Clegg is also actually FBI, and he asks Dean about his field office, which is awkward since he doesn't have one. Dean claims he's only here because Wendy is his cousin, which seems unnecessary because why couldn't he just tell the truth and be a family friend? It causes Doug to excitedly ask if he's actually related to Donna, and if that means Dean was at the recent family reunion in Sioux Falls. And for a second I think oh, Donna, you naughty thing, you're stepping out on Doug and using a family reunion as an excuse! But then I figure out that he means when she she was gone doing all the things she did in the last episode. So obviously she's not telling him everything she's involved in. But I'm sure that's not a problem.

Inside a smaller office, we learn that Wendy's abandoned car was reported by an anonymous tip, which is suspicious. And she's not the only one missing; there's a pattern of disappearances. Clegg displays a map of where all the victims disappeared from and says none were ever found, not even their bodies. He refers to the disappearances as a "classic butterfly" pattern because they happen in the south in the winter and "migrate" up to the north in the summer. Now, at first glance I thought this map of his was just the state of Nebraska, but since movement within Nebraska can't exactly be called "migration," it must be a larger area. So how does he know they're related? Does each one have the same tire spikes? Is that what I missed? Anyway. Clegg says he's been trying to solve this case for 12 years, so he'd appreciate their help. Dean looks at Sam, and Sam... shakes his head no. What? When has Sam Winchester ever said "no" to helping someone, especially a friend? I'm befuddled.

It leaves Dean befuddled too.

Dean ignores him and says "we're in," which earns him Sam's finest bitchface.

So fine.

At their hotel, Dean fires up a CB radio while Sam undresses in the background (good lord, so many gifts in this episode) and bitchily informs him no one uses CBs any more. And he seems to be right; they're all assholes.

Oh, hello Sam's back. So nice to see you.

Sam argues that the CB is stupid, and them being on the case is stupid, because it's not their kind of thing, and the real Feds are there, and do they want to get on the FBI's radar again? But Dean's not going to tell Donna "sorry, these things happen" just so Sam can go back to the bunker and mope some more. Sam denies he's moping, but oh, Sammy. There is no use in pretending, your eyes give you away. Because yes, Dean has noticed that Sam didn't get up until 10:00 and then turned down pancakes. He gives him this pep talk:

Look, I know you're in a dark place right now, okay? I mean, we lost Jack, Mom is... I think about it too. All the time. But you can't let it eat you up. Now look, when I was broken up, you were there for me. Well, I'm here for you now. And I'm telling you, the only way out of this is through. When everything goes to hell, what do we do? We put our heads down and we do the work. We'll find Jack, we'll save Mom. We will. But right now, Donna needs our help. Okay?

Somebody pinch me. We're recognizing Sam's emotional state? We're acknowledging that he was there when Dean was down, and he might just be depressed himself right now? This can only be the work of writer Davy Perez, who brought us "American Nightmare." You know, the one in S12 where Sam talked about how he felt? Bless you, sir.

Sam looks skeptical, but before he can say anything, Dean gets a response on the CB. Somebody has seen Wendy (even given his vague description of a "redhead in a brown sedan"), and wants to talk to him in person. Dean says he'll meet her tomorrow, and Sam should hang out "in case something breaks." Sam says he's here for Donna.

Not only do we discuss Sam's state of mind in this scene, but Sam practically does a strip tease right there in front of us, losing the coat, suit jacket, and shoes, and loosening his tie. It's a good thing.

Cut to the creepy place we saw earlier. Wendy is tied to a chair and blindfolded, and wearing only a cami instead of whatever shirt she wore earlier. The creepy mask dude points a video camera at her and she screams for help.

At the police station, Donna and Sam meet with Clegg. Clegg gives Sam a binder of every person who they think was taken by the Butterfly. He's got a list of suspects, and there's one he's particularly suspicious of. And for the first time he's got a concrete link - this guy was at the truck stop where Wendy's credit card was used last.

It's a creepy (because let's face it, everyone in this ep is creepy) pastor called Diamond Don Hankey, who had a woman's t-shirt in his possession when he was picked up. Donna immediately recognizes it as Wendy's, without even taking it out of the evidence bag. They must be very close, if Donna's that familiar with her wardrobe. I couldn't identify my niece's clothes if you held a gun to my head. Half of my own child's clothes are a surprise every time I see them, and I'm the one who bought them. On the other hand, maybe Wendy is an orphan, since her parents haven't been mentioned once in this entire episode, and maybe Donna raised her and bought her clothes. I don't know.

Sam and Clegg question Hankey about Wendy and another victim, Luis Fernando. Hankey says Wendy looks familiar and then demands a lawyer. "Then you can ask me anything you like about your illegal and your whore." Not cool, especially coming from a guy named after Christmas Poo. Clegg gets in his face because he's obviously very passionate about this case, and Sam jumps up to stop him. Then Donna steps in with a folksy little talk about how lawyers aren't portrayed very well in the Bible, and they're never going to get Hankey a lawyer on a Friday night so he'll be there until Monday at least. And the guys he'll be sharing his cell with will consider him Sunday dinner. You go, Donna. This whole questioning-the-guy-after-he-requests-a-lawyer thing is very, very not kosher, by the way. But you go anyway, cause you're awesome. She brings up a few inappropriate incidents in his past, which he doesn't argue with. But he doesn't recognize Wendy's shirt at all. Donna believes his teary denial, and so does Sam. As Sam points out, the shirt makes no sense - a criminal mastermind avoids capture for 12 years, and then gets caught with the victim's bloody shirt? Gee, it's almost like the shirt was planted or something.

While this is happening, Dean talks to the mystery trucker, who turns out to be a woman who was at the truck stop. She'd noticed Wendy there, and later saw her with her disabled car, but was running late and didn't stop to help. (Or even call the cops on her CB, one has to point out.) In fact, the only reason she stopped at that particular creepy place was because she was behind schedule. (And yet she took the time to eat?)

Next we see Dean outside Manny's. Doug 2.0 gets in the car and gives him a report on everything that's happened at Manny's. It's all pretty minor, and nothing suggests it's a kidnapper hunting ground. Doug then takes this opportunity to ask if Donna's going to be okay. He's concerned that she's hiding something from him. Aw, Doug. Dean tells him to trust her.

They start to go inside but are stopped by the creepy guy who approached Wendy at the truck stop - not the creepy cashier, or the creepy preacher, but the creepy window washer. Dean shows him a picture and hands him a wad of cash, and he tells him that not only was she there a couple of nights ago, but the creepy cashier (Marlon) liked her and closed the shop right after she left, to follow her. Well, hot damn. Marlon's gotta be our man, right?

Inside the truck stop, Dean slams Marlon around a little bit, telling Doug "this is how we do things in the FBI." Marlon pulls up a website with a video feed of a restrained, weeping man, our missing friend Luis Fernando, in fact, whose left arm is apparently being auctioned off. Marlon calls it "kind of like eBay," as we watch the man's arm get sawed off. So, actually a little different from eBay. But then, it's been a long time since I used eBay, so. Maybe not.

Sam and Donna show up about half an hour later and are introduced to Human eBay. Sam looks appropriately disturbed and stops the replay quickly. Marlon makes a joke about him being a vegan and gets a smack to the back of the head from Doug, who has learned that's how you do it in the FBI. You go, Doug.

The Winchesters explain to Donna that this is takeout, for... "Monsters," she says, getting a raised eyebrow from Doug. But I mean, yeah, anyone who participates in this would be a monster, whether they're the supernatural type or not, so it doesn't seem like Doug would assume she means literal monsters. Seems like he'd just say "yeah, right, these people are obviously monsters." But he doesn't. "We'll talk about it later," Donna tells him.

Marlon explains that when he sees someone he thinks no one will miss, "I send a message; I get paid." I wonder what made him think Wendy wouldn't be missed? (Maybe he could tell she was an orphan?) Or any of the victims, for that matter, since there seem to be a lot of "Missing" posters. As the gang is standing around the computer, a new auction pops up - for Wendy Branscum! (I wonder why they use the victim's names?) Her left foot is being auctioned off, and the auction ends in an hour. Dean does that rubbing-his-hand-over-his-mouth thing that I like and asks if Sam can hack into it, but since Sam's hacking skills are based on how convenient they are, he is unable to do it. Although he makes a good point that it's dark web, encrypted server, blah blah blah. Sam can't hack it in 58 minutes, but you know who could? The FBI.

The truth is, there's a lot of things wrong with this monster chow auction. Why would monsters be willing to buy random parts? How are they preserved and shipped? And how do they have that much money? But I've made my peace with all of that.

Because of all of this, basically.

Meanwhile, Doug gets the "monsters are real" speech from Donna. Dean interrupts them to announce Clegg got the location of the video feed, and they have 42 minutes. So the FBI hacked it in 10 minutes? Impressive.

The Impala pulls up at yet another large industrial building. The gang splits up, with Dean, Donna, Doug, and Marlon (why Marlon?) taking the front, and Sam taking the back all by himself for some reason. Even Sam Fucking Winchester needs backup, guys. At one point, for no reason at all, Donna asks Doug if he's okay hanging back. He's fine, because someone has to watch Marlon (except he's not fine at all). You know what would have been a good place to watch Marlon? Handcuffed in the back of the car. Why did they even bring Doug and Marlon if they were just going to leave them in the middle of the building? Anyway, they do. At this point they have 20 minutes left.

At the back door, Sam finds he's been joined by Clegg. He's annoyed, because he called him to get an address, not for backup, and obviously Sam's not supposed to have backup at this point, dammit. But Clegg's been working this case for 12 years and he wants to be here. Sam is obviously not thrilled, but Clegg's here to stay.

Cut to Wendy and the creepy mask guy, sharpening a knife to creepy music. She's wearing a dirty dress now, for some reason.

Team Front seems to have struck gold, because they can hear the creepy music playing. But when they finally locate it, it's coming from a radio in the middle of an empty room. Duh duh duuuuuh!!!

Marlon taunts Doug, tells him he's a vampire, and then proves it by turning him. Sam and Clegg hear them fighting, but before they can rescue Doug, Clegg hits Sam over the head with his gun. Well then!

Seemingly immediately after this, Dean and Donna find beaten-and-vamped Doug. I guess more time has passed than that, because Marlon is gone. Doug is very, very hungry, but Dean happens to have a syringe of dead man's blood in his bag, so he shoots him up before he can rip Donna's throat out. So, yeah, Doug. Monsters are real. Dean conveniently explains for us that sometimes the change happens really quickly, depending on the person. Cover your bases, Show. Dean assures Donna that he'll be okay, because he hasn't fed and there is a cure, which involves sage and garlic and honestly, I have more than one recipe that starts out that way, so I'm halfway prepared to cure a new vampire much of the time. Good to know. Marlon shows up again to gloat that Clegg fooled them and has Sam. And since he refuses to tell Dean where they are, Dean pulls out his vampire-beheading knife and says "bring it, Twilight" and is gorgeous and awesome.


But before he can lop Marlon's head off, Donna shoots him in the knee and orders Dean to get the blood and make the cure. Because curing Doug, who will be fine as long as he doesn't feed, is more important than saving Wendy, who has 20 minutes left? And also, Dean apparently carries sage and garlic in his bag too? (Makes sense. He's gotten kinda domestic, and you never know when you'll want to whip up a batch of sage and garlic rubbed Cornish hens. Man can't live on pancakes alone.) Donna hasn't forgotten their main goal, though, because she tells Marlon that he's either dying fast or slow, depending on whether he tells them where Clegg is, but he's definitely dying.

Cut to Sam, strapped onto the... table? Gurney? Torture device? Anyway, the thing poor Luis was strapped to, as his arm was sawed off. Yeah, it's bloody. Sam wakes up as Clegg directs the creepy mask guy to move the camera back. "He's a big boy. We're gonna want a wiiiide lens." Suited Sam strapped down to a bloody piece of stainless steel torture auction furniture is pretty much everything you could imagine it to be, and then some. (If you're new here... Hi. My name is Caranfindel, and I have a problem.) Sam, being smart, immediately recognizes what's going on.

You're the Butterfly.

And you're Sam Winchester. You and your brother are famous. As soon as I saw that fancy car I knew who you were.

So much for the Feds thinking you're dead, Dean!

Clegg evilly monologues that he tried to frame the preacher, but they saw through that, so now it's on to Plan B. Sam asks why he does this, and Clegg explains that there are lot more monsters than he thinks. "Those freaks you and your brother chase, those are just the ones that can't pass." But most monsters pass as normal people. And they need to eat, which is why they buy body parts from Clegg. Well, I have to dispute that. Many of the monsters Sam and Dean catch are passing as normal people. Clegg obviously doesn't watch the show. And also, how many monsters actually need to eat human flesh? Rugaru crave it but they can survive without it. Kitsune, I guess. Vampires would want live humans, not cold dead parts. One of the creatures bidding seems to be a werewolf. Anyway. Clegg claims he's saving lives, since he sells them people that won't be missed. I guess he means he's saving the lives of people who would be missed? Because obviously people are still dying. Although, by the look of those "Missing" posters, these people are definitely missed. Let's handwave this and carry on, shall we? Because more important things are happening. Sam tells him to go to hell, doing the thing he does that kills me every time, where he knows he's going to die and he just gives the finger to whoever's about to kill him, and is obviously scared shitless but also stupidly brave at the same time, and you guys, I just love him so much.

SO much.

Then Clegg says he knows Sam's been stalling, hoping Dean will show up, but it's time for the auction to start. He puts on a pig face mask, his creepy sidekick starts the camera, and Clegg excitedly announces the new auction for something truly special - Mr. Sam Winchester! We see a few slavering monsters hunched over their computers - and these don't seem to be the type who could pass as normal people, just saying - and then we cut to the Impala, zooming through the night as Donna feeds the cure to Doug. I thought it was pretty traumatic when Dean went through the vampire cure, but maybe not. Or maybe, just like the time it takes to turn, the unpleasantness of the cure also varies. (Handwave!)

Back to Monster eBay. Sam's liver sells for $5000. It's probably in better shape than Dean's. The next item up for bid is Sam Winchester's heart. Well, who in this crowd has enough money to buy something that special?

Dean and Donna get to the auction site and make their way through the building. Donna finds Wendy, and is attacked by Creepy Auction Guy, but she takes him down.

Meanwhile, the bidding for Sam's heart goes higher and higher, ending at $500,000. That's an awful lot of money for a monster to have on hand. Not that Sam's heart isn't worth it, I'm just thinking of the practicalities. And also, if you were a monster who was willing to spend half a million on Sam Winchester's heart, wouldn't you want to rip it out with your own teeth? {handwaves it} Clegg approaches him and says "Usually we do this next part kinda slow, so you can feel it. But since Dean's out there... quick and dirty." He puts his gun to Sam's head and wait, are we not auctioning off any more of Sam's parts? I mean, he's got a lot of parts. Lots there for a peckish monster to much on. Sam swallows and turns away and closes his eyes. "Say goodbye, Sam," Clegg says. We pan away and there's the sound of a gunshot and a bullet casing hitting the floor, and a red splotch appears on Clegg's shirt. To Sam's amazement, Clegg falls, and behind him we see Dean. (Just like when Sam killed the asshole hipster werewolf in "Red Meat!") "Show's over."

Why does Sam being in a dress shirt make this SO MUCH BETTER?

Aftermath! "Dougie Bear" wakes up human and tells Donna he can't do this whole monster thing with her. He doesn't want to be one of the good guys, he doesn't want to help the Winchesters, he doesn't really even want to know he lives in a world with vampires, and he definitely doesn't want to go home with Donna. She's a hero, but "that's not me." So I guess this is Breakdown #3 - the breakdown on Donna and Doug's relationship. {sniff}

Sam tells Donna to let him go. "When you choose this life, anyone who gets too close, eventually they get hurt. Or worse. So let him go. He'll be safer that way." Dean watches this with concern or suspicion or... something. Something awfully attractive.

{Excuse me for a minute while I wait and pound the floor and cry Sam's name.}

Also look at Sam's untucked unbuttoned shirt and the way his hair curls in the back I CAN'T HANDLE IT.

Then there's this Impala conversation.

You were a little tough on Donna back there.


Just saying.

Was I wrong? I mean, when has knowing us ever worked out. For anyone.

I mean, we save people, Sam.

Yeah, we also get people killed, Dean. Kaia, for instance? She helped us, and she died for it.

Okay, look, I know you're in some sort of a -

No no no no no, don't, don't - you keep saying I'm in a dark place, but I'm not, Dean. Everything I'm saying is the truth. It's our lives. And I tried to pretend it didn't have to be, I tried to pretend we could have Mom back, and Cas, and help Jack. But we can't. This ends one way for us, Dean. It ends bloody. It ends bad.

But we end good, oh so good, with Sam sadly looking out the window and my heart shattered in little pieces on the floor. Does this count as Breakdown Number 4, or is it a continuation of Sam's earlier breakdown? Either way, go ahead and give it to me, baby take me through the night.


I honestly didn't expect a lot from this episode - I thought we were looking at yet another Wayward Sisters character introduction - so maybe that's why I'm so ridiculously pleased with the result. I mean, caring Dean! Depressed Sam! Single-layer bedtime Sam! Pancake Dean! Suits! Strapped-down, gun-to-his-head, snarking-at-his-executioner Sam! So much to appreciate. It's all right, it's all right.

One of the biggest things going on in this episode is that Sam and Dean's moods have flipped. At the beginning of the season, Dean was depressed and Sam was hopeful, and now that's reversed. Some on Tumblr have found this puzzling, but to me, it makes perfect sense. Look where they were in 13.01. Dean was sure Mary and Cas were dead and gone forever. He thought Jack was a deadly menace that they'd have to find and kill. But in the last few episodes, Cas came back, he learned Mary was alive, and Jack turned out to be an asset. Things are looking up.

On the other hand, Sam already thought Mary was still alive, and probably hoped she was hanging out with AU Bobby. He was a little hopeful about Cas. He thought Jack was benign or even good, and would have the ability to help them rescue Mary. But in the last few episodes, he lost Jack (twice) in ways that made it easy for him to blame himself, he found out Mary was captive and presumably being tortured, and he blames himself and Dean for Kaia's death. No wonder he's on a downward spiral.

And speaking of Cas, it seems we still haven't called him to tell him we found Jack and then lost him again. You know, in case you were wondering.

I haven't read your reactions yet so now I'm anxious to hear what you think! No spoilers in the comments, please!

Now, I have to confess, one thing might have improved this episode. But that's okay, I ficced it for you...

"Usually we do this next part kinda slow," Clegg says, "So you can feel it. But since Dean's out there... quick and dirty. Say goodbye, Sam." He points his gun to Sam's temple and Sam almost laughs at the irony. All these years hunting monsters, and it's the humans who do him in. He wishes he could say goodbye to Dean, and it breaks his heart to imagine him finally running into this room, too late, finding Sam's body strapped to the table with a bullet in his skull and his heart cut out -


Sam looks directly at the camera. Somewhere out there is the monster who's willing to pay $500,000 for his heart. Not any human heart, but Sam Winchester's heart.

"How are you even going to know it's mine?" he says into the camera.

Clegg's manic smile fades. "What?"

Sam sneers up at him. "Someone's paying five hundred grand for my heart, and you're going to do what? Send it to them in a box? How are they going to know it's mine?"

The comments scrolling along the left side of the auction window seem to agree. Get it in person! one says. The next reads UR being ripped off LoneWolf.

"I mean, if I were paying that much for someone's heart, I'd want it fresh, you know?" Sam continues. He turns back to the camera. "I'd want to get in there with my claws, or my teeth, and rip it out of him myself."

"I know what you're doing," Clegg growls. But the other goon in the mask is focused on the monitor, making distressed sounds and motioning for Clegg to stop. A message from the winning bidder, LoneWolf638, pops up in all caps. HE'S RIGHT. I WANT HIM ALIVE, OR I'M RETRACTING MY BID. Other messages blink in response. Kill him on PPV, LoneWolf! and I'll pay for that shit and That's a lotta $$$ for a cold heart in a fuken box,and lots of emojis that Sam doesn't even understand.

"Fine." Clegg slides the gun back into his holster. "We can change our terms just this once, since it's such a special offer. LoneWolf368, as soon as your funds clear, we'll arrange for the transfer." He approaches the camera. "Show's over for now, folks. See you at the regular time tomorrow." He clicks the camera off and turns to glare at Sam. "You know you're only making this harder on yourself, right?"

"Maybe," Sam smiles. Or maybe not, he thinks, as Clegg moves closer.


Dean bursts through the door and is immediately hit by the unmistakeable smell of gunpowder and fresh blood. There's a figure face-down on the floor, wearing a white shirt and dark suit pants, and for a second, his heart stops, no, no, no - but it's not Sam. It's Clegg. Sam is sitting on the floor, propped up against the wall, battered but alive. He looks up at Dean and smiles. "Hey. Show's over."

Tags: #3, #supernatural, 13.11 breakdown, episode coda, initial reaction, my fic, pretty, sam's hair, season 13, supernatural

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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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