caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

10.19 Initial reaction: What happens in Purgatory stays in Purgatory

The "Then" reminds us that the MOC doesn't let its host die easy, and it's a curse that can be removed. And Purgatory felt pure. And Cuthbert Sinclair was master of spells, and a dick. And the Book of the Damned needs to be translated, and Sam's bargaining with Rowena to make it happen.

Open - 1973, St. Louis. Angry teenager Susie goes into the basement to do laundry, in the house her parents just bought which was caught in an "ownership muddle" for years. Her brother puts on an album, and as Todd Rundgren sings about seeing the light in your eyes, I have a feeling we're going to see some glowy eyes here in St. Louis. Since the basement is being renovated, she decides to work out her frustration by taking a sledgehammer to a wall that's marked for demolition, and you know, this seems like a good choice. Except there's something evil back there, Susie. Something that looks like a small safe, with the Men of Letters logo on it. Do not fuck with that safe, Susie. But she does, and when she tries to open it, it responds by spewing a yellowish cloud of evil, which skips over her unconscious body and zooms upstairs, where it makes her parents and brother commit suicide. Told you not to fuck with that thing, Susie.


Sam and Rowena are meeting in a cheesy BBQ restaurant - I guess Sam couldn't find an abandoned warehouse - and, as promised last week, discussing her terms. Which are that she wants Crowley killed. And Sam's all over that, doesn't even hesitate. And I know my reviews have been pretty shallow of late, but we're about to descend to new depths of shallow. Wait. That doesn't work. New heights of shallow? Anyway, we're going to be shallower than ever, because my God, Sam looks good in this scene. I love it when they light him so you can actually see his eyes. (Maybe this is why we got that song.)

Rowena can read the book but "not in its present form," and when Sam decides that means he's done with her, she points out (as Crowley did to Dean in s9) that if he's come to her, he's obviously run out of other options. At this point, Sam gets a text from Dean saying he's "hitting a nest in Tulsa" (vampires, one presumes) and inviting Sam to come if he wants. Rowena grouses about how rude it was for Sam to look at his phone, and tells him that there's one witch who could read the Book, but she's dead - murdered by the Men of Letters for using her craft. Talk about rude. However, she left a codex behind that will allow Rowena to read the book, and it might even be in the bunker.

Meanwhile, Dean's in Tulsa, chopping his way through a nest of vampires and stealing a beer out of a blood-splattered refrigerator and ewwww, Dean, just don't. Sam shows up, surprised that he killed them all on his own, and while Dean's proud of his "personal best" of killing six vampires by himself, Sam's angry that he didn't wait for him. Dean continues last week's honesty streak by saying it's the only way he can "take the edge off," and he doesn't always want to wait for Sam, especially with Sam looking at him like he's a "diseased killer puppy." (But you are, sweetie. You are.)

Also - bonus befuddled Sam!

And frustrated Sam!

(And I should probably warn you, if you haven't figured it out already, that I'm wearing my SamGirl heart on my sleeve today. If you find Sam annoying, you'll want to find something else to read.)

Back at the bunker, Dean gets his wish and passes out drunk watching Speed 2: Cruise Control. And probably the only way one would ever want to watch that movie is while drunk to the point of passing out. Sam's researching, and I really love this overhead shot.

But I love a little bit of hair in his face even more.

He finds a recording of the MOL meeting in which Cuthbert Sinclair was expelled, and you know, I'm not sure ANY organization should expel someone like Cuthbert Sinclair, but especially not the MOL. I think he's the kind of guy they should take out permanently, rather than annoy the hell out of him and then let him walk around, knowing all their secrets. Anyway, Sam learns about something called the Werther Box, which is responsible for the deaths of two MOLs. One of whom, Martinez, heroically tried to shut it down and was found dead, with his wrists slit, next to the Box. Hmmm. Sinclair says there's only one way to close the box, and Martinez was on the right track. Hmmm again.

(The shot here, where the camera moves from the men at one end of the table, to the tape recorder being shut off, and then we see the hand shutting it off is actually Sam's hand in the present... very cool.)

Knowing now that the Box is in St. Louis, Sam finds the address of the chapter there (and tucks his hair behind his ear as he walks to the bookshelf and okay maybe I'm a tiny bit obsessed but I had to watch that twice), and writes it on a pad of paper. When he pulls his note off the pad, we're given a lingering shot of the page below, with the imprint of what he wrote, so we know someone's going to follow him there.

The next scene is Rowena in bed, and I sleep in my makeup too, but sleeping with your hair half up, the way she does, seems uncomfortable. She's woken by a call from Sam, who needs a spell to break the spell on the Box. Rowena knows one, but "it's not recommended for amateurs." Sam Winchester is no amateur, and he figures he can do this on his own, declining her offer to come with. What could possibly go wrong?

(Here's Sam on the phone. You're welcome.)

Well, one thing that could go wrong is that he could try to pick the lock, not realizing the house is occupied by a very angry middle-aged Susie, who pokes her gun through the mail slot and threatens to blow his bits off. (Not his bits, Susie!!!) I really like Susie. I mean, she's no Jacob Stein (okay, I guess it's really spelled Styne), but she's pretty great. And she reminds me a lot of nurse Abby from ER. Sam retreats to his car (and sadly, he's not driving the old truck I loved from The Inside Man) and discovers that another thing that could go wrong is that Dean could show up. Oh, Dean. You can unexpectedly pop into my passenger seat any time.

Dean apologizes for taking on the vampires on his own, because he assumes Sam's taking on this case on his own in response to that. Dean's honesty and straightforwardness is kind of unsettling to me for some reason. It also turns out he researched the house and knows a lot more about it than Sam does, which is funny. But that means he knows the "St. Louis Suicide House" is a cold case, and uses the phrase "it's not even in our wheelhouse," which is odd because the first time I ever heard phrase that was last week, when Sam used it on Rowena. Deliberate or coincidence? He asks if Sam knows something he doesn't, and, well, yeah, Sam knows just a tiny bit that he hasn't shared with you, Dean. Of course Sam can't tell him the true truth, but he manages to tell him the truth anyway, kind of. There's a bad magic box left there by the MOL and they need to take care of it. "Werther's a time bomb," he says. "It needs to be defused. And not only is it in our wheelhouse, it's our responsibility." Hey, that reminds me. Isn't someone in this car a time bomb who needs to be defused?

(Also, whose grandmother did Sam steal this car from? With the tree air freshener and the box of tissue on the dash? Don't they have a whole garage full of classic cars he could use? Can't he get the old truck back?)

(Also also, Werther's Originals. Yum.)

Dean knocks on the door and pretends to be Dwight Twilley from the neighborhood watch, and awesomely eases his way into the house while getting a description of the guy who tried to break into Susie's house: "Tall. White fella. Pretty hair." (YES IT IS PRETTY ISN'T IT.) Tall Sam and his pretty, pretty hair break into the basement while Dean makes awkward small talk with Susie. "So, you live all alone here?" No, that's not creepy at ALL, Dean. Any woman is going to want to have that conversation with a strange man. But if I roll my eyes too hard, I'll miss pretty Sam creeping through the dark basement as Susie explains how her aunt Pauline went in the basement, and she told her not to go in the basement, and Sam's in the basement, and the tension's racketing up, and Dean's faux-casual "What's in the basement, Susie?" is just all kinds of creepy. And pretty.

(Also pretty? Sam and his pretty, pretty hair)

Susie figures out that two hot visitors in such a short amount of time can't be a coincidence, so she turns her gun on Dean and insists he get Sam upstairs, interrupting his spellcasting. This allows the cloud of evil to come upstairs and get both Dean and Susie and oh, NOW we see the light in their eyes. (Hey, showrunners, here's a thought. If you want to act out a Todd Rundgren song, how about Hammer in My Heart? Just a thought.)

(Oh, God, she's still not over the hammer thing?)

(No, I will NEVER be over the hammer thing.)

Sam runs upstairs, pretty hair flying, and I'm annoyed because it looks like the evil cloud completely skipped over him, and why? Why would it do that? It doesn't even make that much sense that it passed over Susie in 1973 just because she was unconscious. Susie sees the ghost of her dead brother and starts shooting at him, which is useless but is also a wonderful thing because it makes the brothers run out of the room and we get this. Susie, on behalf of everyone who loves to see Sam's hair in his face, I salute you.

Dean starts bitching at Sam about not having a plan or a defense, and it wasn't until rewatch that I thought maybe this was part of Sam's suicide-inducing vision, rather than the real Dean. And I still don't know. But I do know he feels guilty as hell when Susie's ghost family convinces her to kill herself. One more woman who'd be alive (unhappy, but alive) if Sam Winchester hadn't shown up on her doorstep. Dead!Susie berates Sam as a failure, calling herself a casualty of his misguided mission, and obviously I was wrong when I was bitching about the yellowish cloud of evil skipping over Sam. Dead!Susie encourages Sam to end himself before he kills anyone else, but she's suddenly poofed away by Rowena, wearing a bright blue dress and lots of blue eye shadow, and blue is normally a Team Free Will color so I'm not sure what we're trying to represent here.

Dean, meanwhile, finds himself in Purgatory. And do we love this? Oh, yes we do. Partly because everybody looks better in Purgatory.

And why is that? Is it just the desaturation? If I desaturate the color in a non-Purgatory screencap, does it make everybody look hot? Here's guilty Sam in Purgatory.

Hmmm. Not quite.

(Wow. This review is getting long. Sorry.)

Sam and Rowena tie Dean up so he can't kill himself in his trance and I'm deeply ashamed to admit this, but I'm kind of liking Sam and Rowena together. God help me. In his Purgatory vision, Dean calls for Sam, and I'm awfully disappointed he's not there, because, you know. The hotness. But, since I covered the bottom of the screen when they listed the guest stars, I'm pleasantly surprised to see Benny the cuddly vampire show up! \o/ I just published a fic featuring Benny and I've kind of been in a Benny state of mind, so I'm thrilled to see him. Dean's not. He knows it's not the real Benny. He tells Dream!Benny "I need to get out of here" and Dream!Benny responds "Need and want are two different things, aren't they?" He says the reason Dean ended up here is because it's his happy place and he really doesn't want to leave. And it would be easy to stay here, killing as often as he wants, keeping the Mark satisfied. And if Dean doesn't want to do that, and can't get out of Purgatory, then there's the third option, killing himself, which Dream!Benny points out that Dean's been considering.

The following conversation would be heartbreaking even if it were real Benny, but knowing it's just Dean talking to himself makes it even worse. Dream!Benny knows Dean plans for Sam and Cas to take him out when the time comes, but he doubts they'll do it, and knows that even if they do, it would destroy them. But if Dean makes the right choice now, he'll sleep forever and never hurt anyone again. In real life we see Dean snap the ropes tying him to the chair and break a bottle into a weapon. (And does that bottle of gin say Winchester on the label? I guess not. Pretty close, though.)

However, the Mark, seen glowing faintly through his jacket, won't let him kill himself. Does he know that because he tried? (sniff) So he stabs Dream!Benny instead, which breaks the trance.

In the basement, Sam and Rowena decipher the magic lettering on the Box (interestingly, Rowena doesn't seem to know Latin, or did I interpret that wrong?) and I happened to pause here and decided I had to share this with you because that's just the kind of friend I am. You're welcome.

"To silence the box, slake its thirst with the blood of one of our own." Sam recognizes this means the blood of a Man of Letters, so he opens a vein and the gears on the Box start to turn. Rowena can't resist holding onto his big veiny arm, and who can blame her, but when she tells him to slow down, the gears stop turning and they realize the Box wants more blood. All of his blood. And Sam, of course, is immediately ready to give it all of his blood, ready to bleed to death right then and there (and, sadly, trusting that Rowena will hold up her end of the bargain even though he'll be too dead to come through with his). And Rowena bites her lip and rubs his arm and really, really seems to be enjoying this a little too much. But who am I to throw stones.

Having woken up in the real world, Dean heads for the basement, where Sam is bleeding out and the Box is still slowly opening. And did I mention that my Benny fic includes Sam with blood loss? Because now I feel like I may have summoned an actual plot. Now, what can I do with this superpower? Is there anything else you'd like me to attempt to summon? Gen only, please.

Dean grabs Sam and for some reason doesn't see Rowena. At this point, I was convinced she wasn't really there at all - she was Sam's suicide vision, tricking him into killing himself. AND THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME. But no. (ETA... I was wrong? Or, um, right? She WAS a hallucination? WOOT! Does that explain why she was wearing blue?) I guess she backed up against the wall before he made it all the way downstairs. And with her flaming red hair and electric blue dress, she blended into the shadows. But am I complaining? Absolutely not. Because Dean runs downstairs and assumes he's trying to kill himself and grabs Sam's face and tells him whatever he's seeing isn't real and then smacks him across the face to try to break him out of the vision and just like Rowena, I like this a lot more than I should. Woozy Sam goes after Dean with his knife - because that's the way to convince him you're making a rational, conscious decision, Sam - and tells him the Box wants MOL legacy blood, enough to take a life, and this is the only way. Dean decides it can have his blood too, and cuts his own wrist. Rowena looks disappointed that Sam's not going die after all. Fuck you, Rowena. I liked you for a few minutes but it's over, bitch. As Dean bleeds into the basin, the gears start to turn again and when we have this much blood, the door to the Box opens.

Now, I have issues.

This doesn't look like a lot of blood. Not enough to almost kill Sam, anyway. But Dean only bled a little bit. Less than a pint, I'd guess. So if Sam had already bled enough that the basin was only a pint short of killing a man, there should have been a lot more blood. And Sam should have been unconscious.

Also, Martinez actually died while trying to open the Box. So if he gave all the blood the spell needed, why didn't it work?

But you know what? I'm going to forgive and forget. Because this.

(And, you know, the other twenty some-odd caps.)

A disappointed Rowena poofs out as Dean retrieves the codex from the now harmless Box. Outside, we get a variation on the end-of-episode over-the-Impala speech, with a weak and woozy Sam sitting in the car instead of looking over the top. Dean pointed out that the Box separated them, and within an hour they were both "on the brink of death," and that means "the universe is trying to tell us something we both should already know - we're stronger together than apart." What does the universe say about lying, boys? Because Sam probably needs to listen. Instead, he pretends he has no idea what the codex is and says they'll keep it safe. And then chains Rowena up in an abandoned building and instructs her to find a cure for the MOC, because she won't be released, and her son won't be killed, until she does. And Sam, God knows how much I love that you're doing this, but do you really think it's going to end well? Do you really think after you chain this crazy bitch up, she's going to meekly hand you a cure, instead of giving you some monstrous spell that will kill both you and Dean? Or worse?

Oh, Sam.

I was really happy with this episode. Not just because it advances the arc, but because it seemed so full of Sam. Was it just me? Did it seem Sam-centric to anyone else? Or is the bar simply set that low if you're a SamGirl? But we got Hurt Sam and BAMF Sam and Sacrificing-Himself-for-Dean Sam and just so many wonderful flavors of Sam in this one. Not to mention Purgatory Dean!

I'm unspoiled for future episodes, including the previews, please help me stay that way!

Tags: 10.19 the werther project, initial reaction, pretty, sam's hair, season 10, supernatural

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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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