Episode Review – 99 Problems

Well… if we measured my reaction to the prior episode, it come around to about 40% like, 60% dislike.  This one would be the flip side of that: 70% like, 30% dislike.  So I’ll do like last time and talk about the smaller part first.

Part of my dislike is conditional.  The idea of a “hunter town” is awesome and the Whore did give them some partially correct knowledge in fighting demons.  So ummm… now what?  Does the town go back to normal?  Do the citizens continue the fight?  Seems like it’d be a good idea for Sam & Dean & Castiel to correct the townspeople’s knowledge so they could perform real exorcisms.  Maybe we’ll get a coda in the next episode but if not, that’s just too big of a dangling plot thread (especially considering the boys’ reaction to it).

My only other complaint is that why don’t the brothers talk a bit?  Yeah I know some complain about how overt the show is sometimes and its lack of subtlety but now it seems like they’ve gone in the opposite direction and are telling us nothing.  Sam reveals “you’re not the only one white-knuckling it Dean.”  Um… why Sam?  Dean’s struggle to say no is understandable (in fact, it should be more of a struggle with what used to be Dean’s personality).  What reason does Sam have to become Lucifer?  Why would he want to?  Is he still be tortured like he was a bit in Free to be You & Me?  That’s probably the most disappointing thing.  So often in fiction temptation is painted very poorly, like it’s an outright struggle or tug-of-war of wills, never as insidious as it should be.  However, Azazel’s temptation of Jake was one of the best depictions I’ve seen in fiction in a long time.  Now… the show’s lapsed back into the standard troupe.  So much of this season seems to be backwards, Sam should be the one maddest at the whole deal, perhaps even seeing Lucifer’s point that this is all screwed up.  That’s what angers me most about the show since Abandon All Hope, it’s like the creators are half-assing it.

Now onto the good…

I’m not someone who bases a lot of their faith on Revelation and the end times, it’s just never struck me as that important (except for the promise of final victory) compared to the here and now.  Yes, that means I’m a Preterist but I’m not a fan of the Left Behind series because of their poor writing.  So a lot of these alternate interpretations of Biblical passages aren’t offensive to me, I even kind of like how they stretch these things.

I also quite liked Pastor Gideon.  I was reminded of Faith and Houses of the Holy with this episode.  While Kripke & Co might spit on the principles of God and Heaven, at least they treat believers far better than a lot of shows, movies, etc.  It is great to see a work that paints believers as actual people, and SPN seems to paint them as even better than most.

The portrayal of cult-like actions was very well written.  One thing you find repeatedly in the Bible is God’s warnings about being led astray, it comes off that He hates cults and leaders dragging His children to insane ends more than anyone.  “Test every spirit” the Bible verse goes and I liked how the Whore was shown demonstrating herself as “legit” before she started luring the town away.  The “performance”, the slow deception was very well done.  From their perspective, you can’t entirely blame the townspeople for their actions.

Part of me wishes they would better define the idea of “a servant of Heaven”.  Dean’s killing of the Whore would seem to solidify his coming decision but… does it?  He’s Michael’s true vessel, is there any way he can’t be a servant of Heaven, even if he hasn’t said yes yet?  And does Heaven automatically equal the angels?  Part of me was hoping Dean’s success would be a subtle clue from God, that Dean was more in line with His intentions – that the boy was serving the TRUE will of Heaven.

The scene with Lisa in the end was heartbreaking, part of me wanted to scream at the screen for Dean to take a break, to go inside – the show really pulled off the impression that if he had just gone inside, he wouldn’t be about to make this horrible “mistake”.

Pretty good over all and I am weighing this episode with the looming 100th one approaching next week.  It looks like in it we’ll finally get some actual discussion over why it’s a bad thing for Dean to turn down Michael and what the heck Sam is actually struggling with.  Maybe in the end, this season will turn out decent.

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