Episode Reviews – Let it Bleed & the Man Who Knew too Much

Let it Bleed

Lots of nice moments in this, but their sudden turn to Lovecraft seems like a sweeps rating ploy pulled out a few weeks too late.

I admit that a lot of this episode did appeal to me as a writer.  The subtle joke about the episode starting on a “dark and stormy night” and the deconstruction in the quote of the episode:

“To see what’s out there.”
“Why”
“See if it’s friendly?”
“It’s not!”

The bit at the end of Lisa & Ben getting mind scrubbed…

On the one hand, this is pretty much an admission by the writers that nothing will be done with these two.  They are permanently dead to the show.

Do I have a problem with their fate?  Well yes and no…

The move was a very stupid one on Dean’s part.  A fundamental premise of Supernatural is “Knowledge is power” (that they show this rather than tell us is one of the reasons I love the show).  In removing their knowledge about the supernatural, Dean has made Lisa & Ben powerless to an extent.  After all, the two of them were attacked once regardless of their innocence or connection to Dean.  But then again, doing things without thinking is a part of Dean’s character [flaw] so it does fit on a verisimilitude level.

On the writing level I’m disappointed.  Originally I hoped that the show might take actual risks and explore new horizons with a more settled family.  As I’ve written about before, the tension between responsibilities is a theme that I can’t recall seeing in many works and I’d like to see how the SPN writers would tackle that debate.  We live in a world of hard choices, but by episode end, the writers told us that they weren’t interested in hard choices.

Still it was neither horrible nor glorious so a big mediocre score of 3.

Also, on the TV Tropes board, some of us where talking about why Ben wasn’t possessed by a demon.  Two theories I invented:

  1. Demons are not allowed to possess children. How often have we seen demons possess children when it would be a pretty good idea? Remember back when Jimmy Novak’s family was in danger. A demon took over Jimmy’s wife, not his daughter. But there is 1 exception: Lilith. So maybe demons don’t possess kids unless they are of sufficient power.
  2. Going back to Jimmy Novak’s episode: why didn’t a demon ever try to possess Jimmy? We know that demons seems to have access to their hosts’ minds when possessing (and visa versa per antichrist episode) so why not take him over and pull out the info they want? Answer: Demons can’t possess angel vessels. Exception: First: Meg possessing Sammy. But explained away by Sam having drunk demon blood and perhaps the vessel of Lucifer isn’t afforded the same protections as other angel vessels. OR It might have to do with the magical tattoo which seemed to give demons a lot of leeway around the normal rules (remember Meg was able to do more while in a devil’s trap than before). Second (the big one): John possessed by Azazel (when we know now that John had been possessed by Micheal in the past). No real explanation here except (perhaps) that a demon must be of a sufficient power level to take over an angel vessel (remember even holy water didn’t affect Azazel). I actually like theory 2 the most. Why? Because it means that Ben is actually Dean Jr and he is – that’s right – a potential vessel for Michael. Which gives me a hilarious scene about Michael taking Ben in season 7 and proceeding to kick all kinds of ass.

the Man Who Knew too Much

Without a doubt, the weakest SPN finale of all the seasons.  Which is kind of appropriate for season 6.  However, if we judge this on the scale of season six episodes, then this episode was pretty awesome.

Like Chuck from SF Debris, I prefer to grade these things in context of their series as a whole so…

Mediocre – which is a damn shame for a finale.

Some random thoughts on this episode while I prepare for a larger, overall season review post.

  • I didn’t mind the Inception trip inside Sam’s head but it really felt like it dragged this episode down.  Should it have had more time?  Perhaps an entire episode to itself? (hey, they did “dream sharing” once before)  Well the last two finales (or in the case of season 4: lead up to finale) have both had “psychoanalyzing Sam” as a major component/feature of the episode.  Do we need more?
  • I like what they did with Castiel.  Why?  Well first, the idea of the Winchesters going after and attempting to “kill” God is just a huge minefield fraught with peril that would probably destroy the show.  By transforming Castiel, they writers can now do that plot without offending a large section of their fan base.  Also, “where is God” is a frequent question in art, it was even asked in season 5.  “Why isn’t He more active?”  Is a variation on this question.  Now, as someone with a loving – but at times overbearing – family, this was one aspect of God’s character that was never much of a theological conundrum for me.  I’ve frequently thought that one of the worst ways God could punish us would to be more active in our lives.  (Go on – think of your own family.  You know I’m right.)  Castiel may be a demonstration of this principle in season 7.  Hopefully by season end, the brothers might appreciate the more distant “absentee” God.
  • Did Crowley actually lose?

This point will take a bit more explanation, but I think Crowley just pulled off one of the most brilliant Batman Gambits ever seen.  Consider that 2 episodes ago, he described Castiel as “the new God” and himself as “the new Devil”.  By finale’s end, we see that 1 half of that plan is fulfilled.  “But doesn’t this screw Crowley?” some of you are saying.  Follow along here…

  1. Hell seems a bit harder to get into in the SPN universe than as described in most theologies.  The episode where the brothers went to heaven all but says that most people end up in Heaven.
  2. When making his deal with Castiel, Crowley “loaned” him 50k souls for a demonstration.  At the end of the finale, we’re told that Castiel has absorbed “millions upon millions” of souls.  Again, accounting for the more restricted nature of Hell in the SPN universe but factoring in that humans always greatly outnumber monsters, there are probably close to that many souls waiting in Hell for Crowley to tap.  But not quite enough…
  3. The most common principle of Hell in theology is that one is condemned to it for defying God.  Thanks to Crowley, a new, possibly “less pleasant” god has been set up.  A god that a lot of people (including the brothers) are going to defy.  And when that happens?  Souls start ending up in Hell.  More souls than would have ended up there previously (I’m guessing).

Thus what can we conclude?  Crowley just set himself up with a power buffet, and by the end will be more powerful than even Castiel is now.

At least, that’s what he’s thinking (I’m guessing).  The real question is: how will the brothers stop he and Castiel next season?

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5 thoughts on “Episode Reviews – Let it Bleed & the Man Who Knew too Much

  1. Yeah, knowledge is power and all that… but the wiping WAS a very Dean thing to do. I’ve always seen him as kinda like an adult Harry Potter – braver, more independant, darker, bitterder – but still with the fundamental Chronic Hero Syndrome that makes him a semi-messiah figure that suffers in silence (or in sarcasm, as the case may be) while his choices benefit those he loves instead of himself. Like his soul-selling in S2; incredibly stupid, yes, but understandable and very in-character.

    What do you mean – explore new horizons with settled family? I’m not sure I get that.

    I think that demons literally CAN’T possess kids. Lilith was strong enough, on account of being Lu’s 2IC. Azazel’s “feeding” seems to be an alternative (instead of “hacking” the baby, which he can’t do, he “reprograms” it).

    Also I think Meg was “boosted” by Azazel, or Lu himself, in order to prep Sam for becoming Lu’s vessel. Which is why she could break a pentagram… but that makes me wonder – who/what boosted the priest-demon from Sin city? Father Gil, I think was his name, Casey’s boyfriend. He could break a pentagram, too.

    The vessel-theory is interesting, too, but if it’s true, then why didn’t Azazel ever try to possess Dean? Sounds stupid, I know, but get this: Dean has more influence over Sam than John ever did. Sam rebelled against John and tried to be normal, until Dean showed up “looking for a beer” and the rest is history. Sam would do almost anything for Dean; so if Azazel possessed Dean and convinced Sam to do something, he’d do it almost instantly. Alternatively, Azazel could’ve possessed Dean and then stabbed himself or whatever, thereby forcing/blackmailing Sam into doing whatever needed to be done for Lu. But that never happened.

    Re: the finale – I was actually genuinely sad that Castiel went Dark Side. I’ve always liked the guy. But I suppose the writers know where they’re going with it… (hopefully)
    Also, Crowley powering himself up in the long run; holy nine thousand, Batman! That’s brilliant! Have to ask, though – did you notice that there are now 2 Pratchett-references in conncetion with Crowley? 1 = his name. 2 = hell is no longer torture through pain, but torture through eternal boredom. Loved it.

    And the Samception-bit… methinks they wanted to knock down the Great Wall of Amnesia just to amp up the drama of the finale, but judging from your rating, they didn’t get there at all. In general, what would you say makes for an awesome season finale, above and beyond the Everything Goes To Hell-route that most series follow (with varying success)?

    • Yeah, knowledge is power and all that… but the wiping WAS a very Dean thing to do. I’ve always seen him as kinda like an adult Harry Potter – braver, more independant, darker, bitterder – but still with the fundamental Chronic Hero Syndrome that makes him a semi-messiah figure that suffers in silence (or in sarcasm, as the case may be) while his choices benefit those he loves instead of himself. Like his soul-selling in S2; incredibly stupid, yes, but understandable and very in-character.

      I think that’s exactly what I said. 😉

      What do you mean – explore new horizons with settled family? I’m not sure I get that.

      New writing and story horizons. It would open up a lot of plot threads and possibilities that we hadn’t explored in the series before.

      I think that demons literally CAN’T possess kids. Lilith was strong enough, on account of being Lu’s 2IC. Azazel’s “feeding” seems to be an alternative (instead of “hacking” the baby, which he can’t do, he “reprograms” it).

      Also I think Meg was “boosted” by Azazel, or Lu himself, in order to prep Sam for becoming Lu’s vessel. Which is why she could break a pentagram… but that makes me wonder – who/what boosted the priest-demon from Sin city? Father Gil, I think was his name, Casey’s boyfriend. He could break a pentagram, too.

      No, the catch is that demons can always break a seal on the outside, but not from the inside. Maybe Azazel boosted Meg, but they did imply that the “lock” tattoo that was on him was getting around some of these normal demon restrictions.

      The vessel-theory is interesting, too, but if it’s true, then why didn’t Azazel ever try to possess Dean? Sounds stupid, I know, but get this: Dean has more influence over Sam than John ever did. Sam rebelled against John and tried to be normal, until Dean showed up “looking for a beer” and the rest is history. Sam would do almost anything for Dean; so if Azazel possessed Dean and convinced Sam to do something, he’d do it almost instantly. Alternatively, Azazel could’ve possessed Dean and then stabbed himself or whatever, thereby forcing/blackmailing Sam into doing whatever needed to be done for Lu. But that never happened.

      Well Azazel is a busy man… I’m trying to think when he would have had a chance to possess Dean and it’s timing in conjunction with when they picked up their anti-possession trinkets/tattoos.

      Ah ha! Idea! Remember that Azazel ran into Dean in the past before he even knew about the family or Sam’s existence (the first stable time loop). Dean “warns” the demon (and I think quite convincingly) that “I’m the one who kills you”. Azazel also admitted to the realization that Dean had “angels on his shoulder”. So, we have 2 justifications: 1) YED is nervous that Dean might really up and kill him, so he’s going to avoid the kid as much as possible to ensure that doesn’t happen. 2) He’s got angel pals, would you really want to hang around and risk bringing down the wrath of heaven on you?

      How’s that sound for reasoning? XD

      Re: the finale – I was actually genuinely sad that Castiel went Dark Side. I’ve always liked the guy. But I suppose the writers know where they’re going with it… (hopefully)
      Also, Crowley powering himself up in the long run; holy nine thousand, Batman! That’s brilliant! Have to ask, though – did you notice that there are now 2 Pratchett-references in conncetion with Crowley? 1 = his name. 2 = hell is no longer torture through pain, but torture through eternal boredom. Loved it.

      No, the writers don’t know where they’re going with anything. That much was obvious in season 6 (season review coming soon I promise).
      Though if they take my idea and run with it, I would be pleased – and only ask for payment that they MAKE A GOOD SHOW (and or give me a small writing credit – might do wonders for my publishing efforts).
      I haven’t really caught up with Pratchett… (please don’t think less of me) but I think I read some where that the Crowley stuff was a big shout out to him. Though I’d have to check, I think it all might be older than Pratchett.

      And the Samception-bit… methinks they wanted to knock down the Great Wall of Amnesia just to amp up the drama of the finale, but judging from your rating, they didn’t get there at all. In general, what would you say makes for an awesome season finale, above and beyond the Everything Goes To Hell-route that most series follow (with varying success)?

      Are you talking about just with SPN or in general? (some of the phrasing in your question could go either way) I had a review for the season 2 finale around here somewhere. If that doesn’t answer your question, please come back and clarify it and I’ll do my best (or write up and overlong blog post about it).

  2. “I think that’s exactly what I said.”

    Sorry. Guess I was trying to say that I agree; it was a stupid move, but it was a very in-character and believable move.

    “New writing and story horizons. It would open up a lot of plot threads and possibilities that we hadn’t explored in the series before.”

    Oh – well, in that case, cool. That would make S7 a lot better than this one, then.

    No, the catch is that demons can always break a seal on the outside, but not from the inside. Maybe Azazel boosted Meg, but they did imply that the “lock” tattoo that was on him was getting around some of these normal demon restrictions.

    Forgot about the outside-rule. Almost like vampire-invitation the other way around, then. I also think it’s pretty much implied that Meg was boosted by her daddy, cause he seemed to care about his kids (in his own sick way) AND he was a master planner. One of the best villains I’ve seen ever.

    How’s that sound for reasoning? XD

    The fact that you say “stable time loop” makes it convincing, i.e. history wasn’t rewritten by Dean going BttF, rather it’s *always been like that*. Makes sense, except for 1 detail; neither John!Azazel nor HospitalJanitor!Azazel ever dropped a hint about being scared of Dean. In fact, he seemed to get off on torturing Dean, more than torturing John or Sam. Kinda genre blind for such a smart demonic fellow.

    No, the writers don’t know where they’re going with anything.

    Take That! But it’s justified; I’ve been following your disillusionment with S6 for quite a while now, and I feel your pain. Also, when a less experienced writer such as myself is able to notice when something sucks, that means that said something is pretty much a black hole of suckage.

    I haven’t really caught up with Pratchett… (please don’t think less of me) but I think I read some where that the Crowley stuff was a big shout out to him. Though I’d have to check, I think it all might be older than Pratchett.

    Don’t worry, we all have our gaps. 😉 Crowley is named for the Good Guy Demon (it’s complicated) in “Good Omens”. Also, in “Eric”, the new King of Hell replaces the lava/pitchfork/whatever torturing routine with eternal boredom (e.g. a Sisyphus-expy who used to repeatedly push a boulder up a hill is now forced to listen to a demon reading to him out of a DIY book on the dangers of handling heavy objects… forever).

    Are you talking about just with SPN or in general?

    I was talking about in general. When I said Everything Goes To Hell, I meant that the status quo is irreversably changed; an MC gets killed, the alpha couple breaks up, a former big bad comes back stronger… you know? The season ends on a super-suspenseful cross between a downer ending and a massive cliffhanger. A lot of series do that – even some that don’t deal with action between good and evil (e.g. all those soppy medical dramas out there).

    • Sorry. Guess I was trying to say that I agree; it was a stupid move, but it was a very in-character and believable move.

      That’s what I figured. Hence the wink.

      Forgot about the outside-rule. Almost like vampire-invitation the other way around, then. I also think it’s pretty much implied that Meg was boosted by her daddy, cause he seemed to care about his kids (in his own sick way) AND he was a master planner. One of the best villains I’ve seen ever.

      Can’t really argue with any of that.

      The fact that you say “stable time loop” makes it convincing, i.e. history wasn’t rewritten by Dean going BttF, rather it’s *always been like that*. Makes sense, except for 1 detail; neither John!Azazel nor HospitalJanitor!Azazel ever dropped a hint about being scared of Dean. In fact, he seemed to get off on torturing Dean, more than torturing John or Sam. Kinda genre blind for such a smart demonic fellow.

      Why would he drop a hint about being scared of Dean? Demons are always prideful and about the only one more full of himself than Azazel was Alastair.
      On the other hand, that might explain his preference for torturing Dean. A way of saying “You’re going to kill me? YOU???” without trying to set up a self-fulfilling prophecy in alerting Dean that he’ll kill the YED. Which kind of works when you think about it.

      Of course, I don’t think the writers actually planned it out that much, but it’s fun to try and watch everything & read it as if they did. 😉

      I was talking about in general

      Hmmm… the answer might be worth a separate post.

      P.S. I went ahead and fixed some of the formatting on your comment but otherwise altered/edited none of it.

  3. Why would he drop a hint about being scared of Dean? Demons are always prideful and about the only one more full of himself than Azazel was Alastair.

    True, but it could’ve been a subtle blink-and-you-miss-it thing. Or he could’ve voiced that fear privately to Meg/Duane/whoever, in order to motivate them more. “Do Daddy this one favor, will you, sweetheart?”

    Of course, I don’t think the writers actually planned it out that much, but it’s fun to try and watch everything & read it as if they did.

    Yeah, it is. Funny how so few people seem to catch on that SPN (save for S6, of course) is more than just Pretty People vs. Monsters; it’s an intricate mythology that lands only a few levels underneath Lost and Harry Potter. Of course, the guys behind Lost *also* actually just made it up as they went along…;-)

    Hmmm… the answer might be worth a separate post.

    Looking forward to it. 😀

    P.S. I went ahead and fixed some of the formatting on your comment but otherwise altered/edited none of it.

    Thanks. How do I shot formatting?

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