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TV Review: Supernatural – “Abandon All Hope…”

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Abandon all hope. I suppose that’s a given when Lucifer is walking the earth, but after seeing Lucifer massacre an entire town just to raise the angel of death (not to mention the gruesome demise of the Harvelles), one has to wonder how in the world Sam and Dean can get out of bed every morning. No matter what they do, no matter what they try, it ends in pain, loss, and the end of humanity remains a near term inevitability. Maybe it’s no accident that the next episode has them in a nuthouse.

Yes, it’s another mytharc classic from Ben Edlund. Let’s face it. After three weeks of diversions, we had to have a sobering reminder that there’s an apocalypse going on and Lucifer is trying to destroy all. Ah, but it isn't just humans he wants to eradicate. Demons are fair game now too. How is that twist going to play out? How are demons going to take it that those years of efforts to raise their leader are ultimately going to lead to their destruction? Will there be any left by the time they figure it out? How is this show making me feel sorry for demons?

The Story

The world just keeps getting lonelier for Sam and Dean. It all begins with the introduction of the new crossroads demon, Crowley. That's another piece of inspired casting with Mark Sheppard, who rocked as the sly demon who sees the writing on the wall. How does he know about Lucifer's hatred of demons when no others do? Why would he try to get Sam and Dean involved by giving them the colt? Did he know it wouldn’t work? I do love when this show brings on characters of questionable motive. A little of that character mystery has been lost this season with the introduction of Lucifer and other archangels whose motives are very clear. Who will Sam and Dean need to ally with? What dangers are involved in these partnerships if they win? Chances are they aren't thinking that far since they hold little hope so far of winning.

The way the story unfolds is where Ben Edlund is a master. It starts with beer and shots at Bobby's place. Yes, I caught the Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King reference when Castiel easily downs shots with Ellen and Jo (I too am a dork and have all the extended editions). His bonding in this episode with Ellen and Jo is adorable. The other highlight is watching Jo shut down Dean. Those two were never meant to be more than what they already are. Sure it was established earlier in the season that Jo was over her schoolgirl crush, but it is great to see her handle herself among the charms of the master, even if it's their last night on earth.

This show works best during those understated moments where the actors are allowed to simply react. As it’s time to pose for the photo, there aren't many words said when faced with the knowledge that the end is near. It's not something hunters discuss. In posing, how fitting that the only one stating the obvious is the non-human angel. With everyone else, their silent reactions captured by the camera say it all. They're doomed. It's a bittersweet gathering.

One of the big treats is the return of the old Castiel. He’s been troubling me this season but not in this one. The vision of all the reapers, which only he could see, is a great looming visual and Cas’ reaction to their presence is both stoic and ominous. Then he has his forced confrontation with Lucifer where his fierce loyalty to Sam and Dean, despite all that’s happened, is downright inspirational. Yes, he’s losing his power and having to rely more on humanity for survival, but he’s still loyal. I got chills when he declared that he wouldn’t allow Lucifer to take Sam Winchester.

One of the strengths of this show is when Phil Sgriccia is allowed to do action sequences. The hellhound attack is especially effective because they aren't visibly there, yet we believe they are there. They're scarier that way. But Mr. Sgriccia pulls a rabbit out of his hat when he slows down the action to do one of the most heartbreaking death sequences done on this show. The actor's strengths are definitely used to their maximum potential. Take the realization of Jo's mortal wounds. How the horror and fear of her demise is achingly shown just through the shared expressions of Sam, Dean, and Ellen. Pitch perfect. It's fitting, no, its imperative that if anyone has to pull Dean out of meltdown mode, it's Bobby. It reflects what Dean told Bobby at the end of "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester." He can't do this without him. Sure, Bobby is falling apart too, but they find strength in being unified. Sam can't pull Dean out of a place like that, no matter how strong their family bond. Only Dean's father figure can.

How about Jo's lingering death scene? How Sam crouches down and holds her hand, sending his sympathies with his pained eyes. Or Dean, oh poor Dean. He and Jo have always had something special. A bond of admiration and caring. After all, relationships aren't possible when saving the world. Sometimes what you have together can only be explained through a look or a longing gaze. Dean's silent, sweet kiss goodbye says it all. You are someone truly special, Jo Harvelle.

Ellen is very special as well. She sacrifices herself not only for Sam and Dean but because she can't let her baby die alone. What mother would? It is crushing that Ellen has to watch Jo die first. No mother should ever have to go through that, even if it’s only for a minute. Great job by Samantha Ferris in showing the crippling pain from loss and bitter resolve to fight in just a few seconds. Now there are two more awful deaths to add to Sam and Dean's survivor guilt. Of course I didn't bust out crying until Ellen told Dean to "kick it in the ass." We love you, Kim Manners.

Show of hands of those that actually believed that the colt would kill Lucifer. I don’t see any. So, is your reasoning from last season when Uriel said that the only thing that can kill an angel is another angel? Or is it from the likelihood of Lucifer actually dying slim? At least by anyone other than Michael. Or was it that Lucifer wasn’t going to die in episode 10 of the apocalyptic season? Yeah, someone forgot to tell Sam and Dean it wouldn’t work.

Castiel gets the kick ass moment award this episode for getting out of the ring of fire by throwing down and stepping on his very own Meg!Demon carpet. That's so much better than actually killing her, which he no longer has the power to do. He also left her alive with the knowledge of what Crowley said, so how long will it take for her rude awakening? Once free, Castiel can only deliver Sam and Dean to safety while Lucifer welcomes with open arms death.

By the very depressing end, Lucifer could not be stopped. He didn't even seem bothered that Sam wouldn't agree to be his vessel or that they got away. Lucifer has that all mapped out. It all goes down within six months in Detroit. Just like what was revealed in "The End." So what could possibly happen to Sam between now and then that will cause that to happen? Are more really bad things coming for the boys? Damn you, Kripke! Sorry, that slipped out.

How can anyone not be choked up over the burning of the picture in the end? I love how not a single word is said. Sam, Dean, and Bobby in vigil watch the images slowly fade away. Sure the intent is because there are no bodies to salt and burn, but the close-up on the photo as opposed to a close-up on Sam, Dean, and Bobby has to symbolize something. My take is either something really bad is coming, or something inside of them all died along with Ellen and Jo. Probably hope, fighting spirit, or possibly a piece of their humanity. Lucifer could already feel the rage welling in Sam. No way they aren't going to take this personally.

So What Does This All Mean?

These angels keep bringing it up. Sam and Dean are supposedly like Michael and Lucifer, two brothers who loved each other and betrayed one another. There seems to be a piece missing though, too. Sam and Dean are two brothers who have also reconciled. Could this end up being the difference in their parallels that unravels everything? Also, the one angel whose take we haven't gotten on this is Michael. What would he say about this whole mess?

This episode did raise a question as well: how strong is that brotherly bond? It seems unflappable when they are drinking beer, with Sam brushing off Dean's snide comment about not trusting a demon. It seems unflappable when Sam confronts Lucifer primarily as a diversion for Dean to get close enough to fire the colt. Yet Lucifer talks to Sam about being smacked down by big brother and again with the silent reactions, we can't help but think something clicks. After all the growing apart they did last season, how repaired is the damage? Just judging by the previews for the next episode (January 21?) those exact questions could be asked.

My grade is an A. Not much to elaborate on other than I'm an emotional mess. We have a nine-week breather now to wildly speculate how in the world Kripke is getting them out of this mess. Or maybe he won't. Maybe destiny is too powerful to fight. I'm anxious to see them try though. Happy “Winter Hellatus,” everybody!

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About Alice Jester

  • Kelly

    Great review! I loved this episode. Dean and Sam had some lovely brotherly moments. “Thank you for your continued support.” Haha! And Castiel rocked! This episode emphasized his otherworldliness by letting us see things from his point of view. If there’s anything I would have liked to see, it would have been his bonding with Ellen and Jo. They were so cute together.

    Speaking of the fabulous Harvelles, I’m really sad that we lose them just as we got them back again. Jo’s dying moments and Ellen’s heartbreak made me cry. Alona Tal and Samantha Ferris absolutely rocked their last appearance.

    Mark Pellegrino was amazing too. And Mark Sheppard was quite amusing.

    The family photo moment was both funny and heartbreaking. I was irked when they burned it. I guess it was like a Viking burial moment since they didn’t have their friends’ bodies, but it was the last photo they ever took and I wish they had kept it. I hope Bobby still has the negative at least.

    Nine weeks without the boys and their friends is going to be a very very long hiatus.

  • Andrea

    For those who demanded the apocalypse back after all the light episodes, well, there you are! Poor Harvelles. I never cared for Jo but I have to admit that she was as brave as it gets. And kudos to her dealing with Dean as well.

    I think it was a huge epic episode. My only complaint is that we could have had more brother interaction. There were Dean and Jo, Jo and Ellen, Dean and Bobby, Castiel and Lucifer moments, but hardly any Sam and Dean moments.

    I’ve been wondering about Sam’s powers. Are they gone for good? At this point, I’m thinking that as he was the one to release Lucifer through his powers, maybe he’s the only one who cand send Lucifer back to Hell by using the same powers. Indeed, what a Hell we’got to go through another Hellatus before we know anything else!

  • Jasminka

    Alice,
    thank you for this moving review.
    I’m still an emotional mess, this episode did strike so many personal chords of loss in my soul that I had trouble keeping them down, as the episode came in a moment I felt particularly vulnerable. Sometimes that show does that to me.

    Again we’ve seen the power of silence – sometimes no words are necessary when you have actors like that, and I mean everyone – Crowley (fantastic Mark Sheppard) watching SS-documentaries, Lucifer staring down Castiel, the mute adieu of Dean and Jo, Jo looking at her mother and seeing in her face that she will stay by her side, Sam’s pained expression as he holds Jo’s hand… Devastating.

    I need to look up the previews you mention, but I, too, have a feeling that things are going to get really bad. Perhaps this is another Star Wars moment – you know, when the Emperor challenged Luke Skywalker to give in to his rage ‘and your journey to the dark side will be complete’. Maybe this is Sam’s journey to the dark side, as in really, really dark…Will his rage catapult him to say yes to Lucifer? In a moment someone he loves will be in danger or wounded (well, this leaves us Dean and Bobby, the others are dead)…Sam might get devilishly angry… Gosh, I have no idea…

    They’re cooking up something big, I’m certain. This is going to be a hell of a ride.

    And – thanks by the way for pointing out that Lord Of The Rings-moment. I’m just a dork as you are, with the extended versions at home, but when I saw that drinking game scene I was like ‘okay, I’ve seen this before – but where!?’. Thank you, I can sleep now.

    I also liked (even though I am a huge fan of the brotherly moments) that there were so many intense interactions between Dean and Jo, Dean and Bobby, a little in the beginning with Sam… Just as you noticed, in those moments, Dean needs Bobby… it makes sense, as his kid-persona pops up when he’s desperate, and he needs fatherly consolation or a loving order to get a grip and concentrate at the things at hand.

    Jensen’s performance broke my heart. When talent was distributed, he was sitting in the front row.

    Thanks for this, Alice,
    Jas

  • Baronius

    I’ve got to raise my hand. I thought that the Colt might have worked. I was hoping for it. It would have been a really interesting twist halfway through the epic final season. All the prophecies failed, everyone confused, angels and demons scrambling for power, and four horsemen driving around the world dishing out misery. Far more interesting than where it looks like we’re headed.

    Imagine the look on Lucifer’s face when he realizes that a thousand reapers are there for him! (Ooh, I feel some fanfic coming on.)

  • Deborah

    Thanks, Alice. Another wonderful review. I always see things I missed when I read your reviews. Ben Edlund has become one of my favorite SPN writers — his Season 5 eps have blown me out of the water. And the actors, every one, brought their A game to this one, but I have to give particular kudos to Samantha and Alona. Their work in the hardware store broke my heart. I can’t wait to see where Kripke and crew are taking us.

    I did want to mention about the drinking scene with Ellen, Jo and Castiel. Everyone has been mentioning the scene from LOTR — I immeditately thought of our first look at Marion Ravenwood in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, downing shots in her bar in Nepal. I need to check out my LOTR DVD to see the scene from it that everyone is talking about.

    Thanks again for this review, Alice. Boy, it’s going to be a long hiatus!

  • Christi

    I don’t know if anyone else thought so but that scene with cas and the reapers was actually scary, haunting, and speaking as somone who has sceen Yellow Fever like a dozen times, I think that Dean is genuinely terrified of hellhounds now, and he just holds it in check. it is to Jensen’s credit that you can see a moment of that sheer terror in his eyes in this ep. when he realizes that Meg hasn’t come alone. And hell yeah, this hiatus is just too long.

  • glzmargarita

    Hi Alice, You haven’t done the review of Sam, Interrupted 5.11 Are you going to do it?
    Well don’t worry I’ll wait, cause I love your reviews, your reviews are the best.
    Atte: maggie

  • http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com Alice Jester

    glzmargartia –

    My apologies. I’ll have something together soon. My own website has been demanding a lot of my attention these days. I have 8 writers now! I’m still doing episode reviews here though, so stay tuned!