Episode Review – Family Feud

This might be another long one.  But not in the positive way.

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You know… I knew it.  I knew last week that it was risky to declare S12 the “season of repair” but thought, “surely nobody can screw it up THAT badly.”

Normally I don’t bring up people by names because I want people to know – especially if those named are reading – that it isn’t personal, it’s about the show and strictly the writing it doesn’t matter who you are as a person good or bad.  The exception is a bit with the show runners because the buck stops with them and it helps divide up the phases the show has gone through.  This time though?  Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming – what. the. hell!  You two have written 20+ episodes together and a newbie like Davy Perez comes along last week and shows y’all up on the job on his SECOND attempt.  You should be schooling him on maintaining canon, not the other way around.  One would hope both of you would learn your lessons after the utter train wreck that was Taxi Driver!

So what went wrong here?  The episode has 3 main plotlines. (or rather 2 and then 2 half plotlines)  The first is a thread about mothers.  We bookend the episode with Mary and in the middle revisit Kelly Kline who gets attacked by two angels but is saved by one of the PoHs.

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Ok, let’s go over this.

The most common misunderstanding of canon I’ve encountered with other fans is that of implicit or implied canon.  Typically they take it to the extreme and believe that if _ was never shown before, then it can never be shown after.  Let’s make up an example.

You meet a customer at work.  Weeks later, you’re at a party when you see that customer again.  As the party is starting to die, the host asks for someone to entertain.  That customer then proceeds to demonstrate the ability to play the piano and save the evening. (OMG continuity conflict, life is so unrealistic!)

Does that violate implied continuity?  No it doesn’t because at no point during the first meeting was the customer’s ability to play the piano relevant (unless your job is in a music store).  Now let’s imagine the piano was never played at that party, but later on you run into the customer again and during this third meeting they demonstrate the piano playing ability.  NOW you have a possibility of conflict because there was an opportunity for them to use that skill but didn’t.  If the customer reveals they have terrible stage fright, then we would understand because additional information has to be provided to explain why this is being learned now, instead of earlier.

So in this episode we see Dagon, a Prince (princess?) of Hell explode two angels just by crossing her arms.  Now what was said waaaaaay back in episode 4.16?

Alastair: Now, I really wish I knew how to kill you. But all I can do is send you back to Heaven.

Alastair: Lilith is not behind this. She wouldn’t kill seven angels. Oh, she’d kill a hundred, a thousand.

Now Lilith, is THE first demon, this is explicit canon.  It’s also very clear in the show that the older something is, the more powerful it is.  Lilith, being the oldest demon, should have been the epitome of all demons could ever be.  So how could a Prince of Hell do something the Queen of Hell could not?  If PoHs can so easily kill angels, why was Azazel concerned about them finding out his plan back in 4.03?

This is a violation of implied canon because there IS NO REASON for Lilith, Alastair, or Azazel to not have used this ability previously!  Hell why didn’t Ramiel do this IN THE PREVIOUS EPISODE when fighting Castiel instead of using the spear?  There must be a reason given for why this never came up before!  What’s worse, had they kept it in canon and we watch Dagon take on the angels and exorcise them it would have been an entertaining fight scene AND established the character as a credible threat instead of giving the impression that she’s only a threat when the writers permit her to be.  It would have also been a parallel to the boys which would have fit in the later scene where Dagon also begins to talk like the boys causing the scene to take on an impression of a dark-mirror-flipped version of our usual heroes.

As it is, we see Dagon, telling Kelly, “Don’t believe what you see in the movies. No one is born good or bad. It’s all in the upbringing.”  Given that this line is delivered from a villain, the audience’s natural reaction is going to be to reject or disbelieve it.  But that very idea has been one of the core aesops of the show FROM THE BEGINNING!  Does ANYBODY remember how this was Sam’s struggle and character arc from the original five year run??  Yes “the devil can quote scripture” but given the lack of subtlety elsewhere in the episode and these writers’ repertoire it seems unlikely that’s what they were going for.  And while we’re at it the line, “did they teach you that in Sunday school?”  YES!  Yes they did!  It’s generally a common belief among Christians that Lucifer was once a servant of God (or at least I have yet to come across a sect that disagrees).  Why am I surprised you can’t get the show’s continuity right when you folks can’t even get the real world’s continuity right!  Dang it this is as bad as the Bible line from episode 5.06.

At least the half plot with Mary was ok except if Rugaru can be killed with sonics and not just fire, now we have a whole can of worms on what else might be killed by sonic sounds instead of the regular.  Do you guys have no idea what “mystical” or “metaphysical” mean?

I’ve had a dozen of my most loyal studying the cage where you were held at the molecular level. They managed to replicate the material. -Crowley

Well I guess not.

Note to writers: Do NOT make your afterlife(s) or anything related to them literal and physical.  Just don’t.  Afterlives are spiritual, metaphysical, and metaphorical at the very least because it avoids so many plot holes.  Like the biggest one: Why do we have these NOW?  Again, a simple line change from Crowley (“I’ve been working on these since you first got out seven years ago…”) would fix everything.  Or why not just make some rune-marked chains since we had a rune-marked weapon threaten angels last episode and rune-marked brass knuckles back in… oh right, episode 12.02 WRITTEN BY THE SAME WRITERS!

So the second plot of the episode was Crowley metaphorically playing chess with Lucifer.  It’s just… I’m so tired of Lucifer.  I enjoy the portrayal Misha and Mark have given us, but he’s just exhausting audience credit.  Which I’ll go into detail in an upcoming retrospective.

The third plot was the ramifications of altering history by bringing Gavin to the present day (in what’s probably the second worst episode of the series ever).  Of course that was written by these same writers so at least they’re cleaning up after themselves.

On the whole this was probably the best part as it was a good old fashioned ghost story and examined a “what if” time plot without involving the end of the world.  It wasn’t absolutely necessary, the boys could probably have figured out another solution, but it was the right thing to do to send Gavin back. (well actually the right thing to do was to never give Abaddon time travel powers in the first place)

Also this episode did write Rowena well.  I feel for Rowena because I think she is a character which could have a lot of potential yet never is properly utilized by the writers.  What are her goals?  What does she want?  Is there anything more to her than being an aimless drifter?  This is an episode where I feel like she really existed as a character (yes, there were a few times before this too).  She had the goal of hurting Crowley.  Yes there is debate about whether her talking with and about Gavin were complete lies or half-truths but it’s a good debate that works with the plot.  The audience needs at least something solid and concrete with a character to grasp but if that’s there, the rest can be mysterious.  Up until now all we had was Ruth Connell’s looks and charm but that’s the actress, not the character.  It’s certainly not helped that the show frequently reduced her to a joke.  It would be great if she could be threatening or clever once in awhile beyond when the plot demands it.  And if she could interact with someone else like a human being.  She doesn’t have to become a part of the main characters’ family, but she could be an associate, or frenemy.  We just need more characters in the show’s middle ground between stabbing and hugging.  (Hey maybe she can get a spinoff with Mary where they’re roommates, we can call it Supernatural:MILF.)

In the end I have to give this episode…

The parts that are good, just aren’t good enough to really bring the episode any higher.

UPDATE: I just realized I totally left off the rant about all the plot holes and bad retcons with Lucifer’s vessel, which I could go on about for days.  Now I’m debating whether to take away the one shell…

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I still wish it was Michael running loose and making a love child out there.  Or what if Lucifer had made a nephilim back in S5 as a backup plan? (the kid would be 7 years old now)  Heck, if you really want to go crazy, what if the kid was conceived the night Dean & Anna were together, and then was “changed” into a strange, new nephilim when Anna got her grace back.  It gives new implications to the time she was held captive by heaven and when she escaped, doesn’t it?

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