Episodes Reviewed – the Vessel & Beyond the Mat

After a raft of MotW, we now have a pair of arc shows (kind of).  They’re certainly a step up from previous arcs.

the Vessel

One thing I’ll have to say is a sign of improvement this season is that I find myself less able to multitask while watching it as it’s starting to demand actually being watched (and I don’t want to gouge my eyes out).

All in all I liked this episode in the general though I really wish they’d make time travel a more reserved situation.  This could have been a neat clue hunt through the Men of Letters bunker as the boys unravel the mystery of the mcguffin but I don’t mind a bit of history and submarines.

Of course the problem with Lucifer now being out (and interacting more with the boys) is that he starts losing his mojo as a villain if he has the boys dead to rights so many times and still can’t seem to finish them off.  I mean his hand was INSIDE Sam touching the soul – even if Castiel was interfering, this procedure was described as very delicate, so how come Sam didn’t blow up?  And it’s hard to keep taking the bunker seriously as some kind of fortress if they keep having this much trouble with intruders.  Yes there is an argument to be made that the MoL didn’t know about angels (or did they? seems stuff about them can be found when the plot demands) and if they did, maybe they wouldn’t find them evil, but the boys do.  Why haven’t they beefed up the bunker?  It’s not like Lucifer is their first problematic angel.  It would be nice to see the boys take their home a bit more seriously.

Then there was the whole, “Lucifer gets a cheat code to cancel warding.”  Just… this just goes to prove what I heard from someone, “Supernatural is just ‘Charmed’ now” (and that wasn’t meant as a compliment).  Is there a problem?  We’ll just find a spell for it! (and then never use it again despite all the other times it would be useful)  Part of me is starting to wonder if we’ll just up and find a “defeat darkness” spell to finish the season.  But the other part of me is wondering if we’ll see Lucifer later take advantage of this cheat code he found – and if the Lady of Letters & sub crew will return to help.  If so I’ll definitely raise this episode up a grade.

3 out of 5.

Beyond the Mat

This… seems like it’s in the wrong place.  Oh don’t get me wrong I like the start of this episode, but it seems like it should have been placed earlier in the season and made a “purer” MotW episode.  Heck can you imagine if this episode had been combined with Jody Mills’ and was the boys taking Claire & Alex to a wrestling match like fathers? (maybe Claire gets into it but Alex isn’t sold…etc)  I’ve complained before about how one of the failings of S5 & S7 was their forgetting to toss in simple lines to at least convey and paint the picture of the ongoing arc during a “one-off” episode.  Earlier this season they seemed to have learned some of those lessons and applied this properly to the early MotW.  Then it’s gone and forgotten this with the latest few MotW again coming off as not just divorced from the arc, but on a completely different planet.  Ironically, this episode set up a perfect cover for this: “we need a break.”  Great!  Makes sense!  We have a completely one-off episode because the boys need a break and we the audience get one along with them.  Oh wait, no, this ended up being an arc-heavy episode.  Supernatural, why do you keep getting stuff backwards!

The other problem this episode is… I’m not going to call it the raping of canon (for that watch S9 and S10 again) but the erosion of canon, which can ultimately be worse because, like real-life’s erosion, it can be very hard to spot until one looks back and realizes it’s all too late.  So, for example, we have a guy that made a deal.  Boys kill the demon holding the deal, hell hounds still come after the guy.  On the face of it, not horrible, you could make it work with previously revealed info, but think about S3 now.  Think about how it was all about the boys trying to hunt down Lilith to save Dean.  Only now we know that it wouldn’t have mattered, apparently he was still going to die even if they killed her.  Or the events of S5 where Crowley gives the Colt to the boys, and now we learn he’s had a “hand of God” stuck in a storage locker that conceptually could have handled Lucifer without Sam’s sacrifice or dooming the world.  It’s not a contradiction, but it does weaken and erode the impact of those past stories.  Heck this episode ended up hosing the previous because why was the Lady of Letters and the entire sub wiped out by the fragment while Crowley can zap a demon and remain? (the first one who says “Because he’s Crowley” I’m coming through your monitor and slapping you – he’s a DEMON which I’m pretty sure God is less fond of than humans)  At some point it’s like story logic isn’t even a consideration, it’s just pure character shields now.  And what is the deal with the ritualistic markings? (never seen before from dealing demons)  Was that ever explained? (or the random killing of the father extra?)  Did the demon want to be caught?

And don’t get me started on them recycling actors.  When even I’m starting to notice… (though “Gunner Lawson” previously showed up in a crossroads episode… shame they didn’t try and play that off as some kind of sequel or tie in)

But I did enjoy that the boys mentioned a positive memory of John again (you think by now they would be old enough to realize his views and appreciate them more – it happens to a lot of boys).  More importantly this episode felt like it was getting back to the blue-collar roots of Supernatural.  Heck it also humanized the boys (or at least, Dean) by giving him a moment (or two) of pure, simple pleasure which we haven’t seen since… prize to the first person who can say when that was.

So yeah, when the episode was about just the monster of the week, it was great, when it was about the arc… not really.

3 out of 5.

Now if we can just get my dream episode about the boys hitting a monster truck rally to fight some gremlins with Baby herself at stake…

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