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TV Review: Supernatural – “Hammer of The Gods”

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I remember back in 2002 taking an afternoon off work to go check out the new Star Trek film, Nemesis. I’m a huge fan of the Next Generation franchise having seen all the episodes countless times and loving the three films up to that point. Yes, I even liked Insurrection. Two hours later, I left that theater like my world had fallen apart. They managed to destroy in two hours the years of joy they had given me by killing off my all-time favorite Star Trek character, Commander Data. The death was pointless, had zero purpose and was a slap in the face to every loyal fan out there. I have never seen that film again and it’s the only one that is not in my Star Trek DVD set. I often pretend it never happened.

I couldn’t figure out at first why I didn’t like “Hammer of The Gods.” I didn’t even do a re-watch until four days later, which is unheard of for me. Then it dawned on me. Gabriel’s death left me as empty and broken as when Data died. He was my favorite character outside of the leads and he brought us three of the most memorable and my absolute favorite episodes in the series (“Mystery Spot” still being my all time favorite). I understand character deaths are all for the sake of drama, but like before I found myself devastated, asking “Why??”

I know many liked this episode, so my sentiments are in the minority. Let’s take away the senseless killing of one of our most beloved characters. What are we left with? It’s still a mess. I’ll at least give points for a decent premise. I’ve read on the boards the complaints about how the apocalyptic story line should have impact on other religions and faiths. This is a great chance to address those. Too bad it fails.

Instead of me feeling sorry for the rest of the world becoming the victims of angels and their pissing contest, I was actually rooting for a total scrubbing by the end. These so-called Gods are unsympathetic, barbaric, and just plain petulant. Lucifer actually has them pegged beautifully. “You know, I never understood you pagans. You’re such petty little things. Always fighting, always happy to sell out your own kind. No wonder you forfeited this planet to us.” When the Devil looks like the righteous one, these characters are either meant to be shallow or someone makes a tragic error. Plus they’re all cannibals? Either way, I don’t think the episode did the worldly view justice.

Then there’s Sam, whose been wowing us with his leadership and self-confidence in the face of danger the last few weeks. Sadly he did a total 180 and goes back to being a pathetic, worrying basket case. The boy’s mood changes like his hair. He’s supposedly not sleeping these days and wearing himself thin. I’m hoping this is a setup for the next episodes otherwise the lack of consistency in his character is baffling. Also, casting Matt Frewer as Pestilence is sheer brilliance, writers trying to out-gross one another is not. The super disgusting scenes from the second half of this season are fun the first couple of times but now… I’m over it. You win, Dabb and Loflin. Can we move on now?

The episode isn’t a total waste. If there is one major plus, it’s the return of Dean Winchester in classic form. No, he’s actually better than ever. He’s funny, sexy, brilliant, tough, and all the things that make us fangirls swoon. Welcome back, Dean! Also, I tend to use the season one episode “Bugs” as my yardstick for bad episodes. “Hammer of The Gods” isn’t that low because the guest acting of Richard Speight Jr. and Mark Pellegrino is through the roof. Both are so amazing, so dynamic in their roles and their standoff scene together is sibling rivalry at its most intense, despite the less than satisfying outcome. Lucifer is truly broken up over having to kill his brother, but as Gabe so skillfully pointed out earlier, “No one makes us do anything.” Luci missed that memo and that sets him up to be the truly scary nemesis he should be in the showdown to come.

The idea of the luxury hotel mysteriously in the middle of nowhere is pretty cool too, but man, the pacing really kills that promising setup. The episode crawls along for most of the scenes, even if it is really amusing to see Sam and Dean in a nice place for once and Dean declaring that the pie table at the all you can eat buffet is better than Heaven (he should know too). As a matter of fact, only two scenes are above average. One I already alluded to, the Lucifer/Gabriel showdown. The other is after Kali talks about Westerners being savages before brutally spiking Gabriel with what turns out to be the fake archangel blade. When Dean gets up and does his conceited speech to the Gods, all while Sam throws him looks of “What the f*** are you doing?” I haven’t laughed harder at a Dean moment in a while. He’s all confidence and arrogance on the outside, but when he turns away he’s completely freaked out. My favorite part? “We can either take on the Devil together, or you lame ass bitches can eat me.” Then it dawns on him. “Literally.”

Honorable mention does go to Gabriel’s funny attempt at communicating with Sam and Dean through a porno (Casa Erotica 13 nonetheless for those of us who love continuity), but that vision of him dead on the ground in the middle of the dark angel wings of death is still too raw for that scene to be appreciated. It does set up the premise for the three episodes to come, which is that Lucifer can’t be killed but can be lured back in his box. Something tells me that Sam’s going to have to play a major role in that plan and judging by the previews his stability continues to get worse. These final season five episodes are going to be mighty rough on us fans.

Overall, I give “Hammer of The Gods” a D+. I’m sad to say it too since I’m such a huge fan of Gabriel/The Trickster, but even Richard Speight Jr.’s brilliant turn here couldn’t save this poor episode. Just like Nemesis, I doubt I’ll ever watch this one again. It’s going to take far more than a bad episode though to turn me away and I’m anxious and eager for the rest. In honor of Gabriel/The Trickster, I close with an appropriate tagline for what’s to come. “Let’s light this candle!”

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About Alice Jester

  • Mo!

    I have to say I completely disagree. This episode was awesome.

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

    Mo – Like I said in the review, I’m in the minority, for once. I’m very glad you liked it though!

  • Kara

    i can see what you mean. I didn’t like the synopsis so i wasn’t expecting a great episode and even though i was pleasantly surprised, it is definitely not one of my favourites and actually on rewatch, it starts to get worse for me. I liked the parts you liked plus a few more i guess but it wasn’t the best so i can see where you are coming from. Pestilense is disgusting but i guess he should be. I don’t and won’t ever watch that scene again and i hope he gets better – or cleaner when we see him again. Loved Gabriel/Trickster as usual and being a S4 and S5 fan i think i am going to find it sad seeing it all ‘wrap up’. Still, that’s exactly what most of the fans were calling for right? For it to all end….well, it is ending. Sadly for me, yet hopefully happily for others.
    Thanks for your honest and open review. Gotta take the bad with the good and i like how you said what you thought :)

  • Erika

    I see where you’re coming from, but would still give it a higher grade. Maybe because I wasn’t as attached to Gabriel as you? I loved him and all he brought to the show (Mystery Spot is one of my top episodes, too), but found the role his death played appropriate. The rest of the episode worked for me…even Pestilence. He was repugnant, but Pestilence should be repugnant. No worries, though, there’s room for every point of view!

  • cassi

    Wow, didn’t think you would rate it so low. For me it is still a decent episode for two reasons. 1. I love the scenes between Lucifer and Gabriel 2. I love to get grossed out by Supernatural.
    The main part which bugs me about the episode is the pagan Gods stuff, otherwise it’s ok. The trickster death didn’t really impress me after Zach’s death last week. I loved Zach and Gabe so I was sad to see Zach go and annoyed that Gabe followed his fate so soon.

  • Jasminka

    Alice, am also one of those who liked the episode, but after reading your brilliant review I have second thoughts.

    I take this one as a breather-episode first of all, one that is not so devastating in heart-wrenching protocol as others have been and probably will be. But Gabriel’s death affected me more than I believed possible. My favourite villain of this show. Responsible for two of my fave episodes (of course MysterySpot and ChangingChannels), the one who showed Sam a glimpse of life without his brother which played a huge part in his journey into darkness, I’m sure.

    Since it seems that the angels have to go with the closing of the myth arc, I expected Gabriel to bite it as soon as he showed up but was hoping he would not. Well, when does hope ever change the world?

    Lucifer and Gabriel were amazingly acted out, kudos to both actors. I’m really curious what Mark Pellegrino will do with the character from now on. There’s not much volume he can add.

    The takes on the two leads were interesting. I also wondered what happened to the confident Sam we have seen in the earlier episodes, but then again it might just be possible that he showed this kind of hope for Dean and in regard to him, but in truth is terrified of himself, still.

    The changes from forlorn to confident happened a tad too fast for my taste. I wonder how much despair goes into that. And how much of it he actually believes.
    Same goes for Dean. As much as I love to see him in his Han-Solo-mode, gosh, what a guy!, I don’t buy it.

    This show has always been absolutely reliable in terms of psychological continuity. This is happening too fast. I’ve never seen that happen like that. Not in all the time I’ve been dealing with trauma and war and loss – patients. They sometimes find a way to go on with their lives, but the wounds torn by whatever event surface occasionally, and I expect that to happen here, too.

    If the writers went over that, just like that, that would render their brilliance in the seasons before and the episodes of this season to absurdity. In terms of quality hints of the desastrous wounds in the guys’ souls have to be there.

    I don’t think I’d give the episode a D, like you did. But it certainly does not linger in the all-time-best category. I hope, still, that they will find a way to let Gabriel/Trickster, ah, whatever, come back. But would that be logical? Would depend on the storyline of the sixth season, I reckon. I am now worried they will kill off Bobby, too. And Castiel. Going into a sixth season without these characters… I don’t know yet how I would take that.

    Thanks, Alice! Love Jas

  • Brenda

    I am mostly with you in the minority. But I want to caveat that with the admission that any hour spent with the Winchesters is a good hour for me. Dabb and Loflin are my least favorite writers, and while them come up trumps occasionally. Most often I feel like they have trouble with continuity of characters and for some reason their writing seems juvenile by comparison.
    At first blush I had to wonder why kill Gabriel, it seems a waste of a perfectly awesome character without cause. However, the more I thought about it I have theorized that it is to draw a distinction between the Angel Brothers and THE Brothers. All season we have been seeing the supposed parallels between Sam and Dean and the Angel siblings – this I think is starting to show the difference. Whatever the case – fare thee well Gabriel and thanks for all the fun.

  • carlotspeak

    This episode has delay effect on me like when one was being assaulted on the street and went home, you know? The first few days, I feel kind of ok and when someone asked I cheerfully told them so. But then the other feelings started to sink in, and I had to think it through. So in a way I am in the same mode as you. Changing Channels was one of the best episodes ever. Richard Speight Jr.’s performance as Gabriel was truly the most memorable. Killing his character off must be part of the angels franchise leaving the planet Supernatural. All in all I am looking forward to the day when my daughter coming back from college and both of us will be scratching our heads wondering how could they not editing the writings a tad better than this.

    What made Hammer difficult for me was the part with Ganesha. I am not a Hindu, but I have great respect. I have always hated “Busty Asian Beauty” stereotype, but come to accept that as well. I imagine Kripke’s team to be really mainstream white American and far remove from other cultures. I think this Hammer episode is the last proof anyone needed. It is getting easier daily as I remind myself that my other viewer friends who are Christian also had to endure and accept images and play of words about God and angels as “dead beat dad” ..”dicks..etc” which in a way is worst. Yet they do not complain about it.

    In conclusion: I would like to chalk all the God’s parts off like “Fallen Idol” Paris Hilton’ scene which she acted nice, but when she spoke, she did so badly it was like reading pages from a book.

    The other things about the Hammer, and I am glad that I was not mad since someone else also spotted it: Lucifer’s make -up. Something was very strange. I had to pause my screen, and stared at it several times. It’s like a child Halloween made up. Look at it again Alice. Tell me what you think?

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

    Wow, I should give negative reviews more often. So many great comments this go around…

    Why did I give this a D+? It’s kind of lame, but I gave Swap Meat a C-, which up until this episode was the worst episode of the season. So, I had to give it a grade lower. It’s a high D+ though if its any consolation!

    If there’s one thing I know about this show (and Star Trek too) is that deaths don’t stick. Still, they can be jolting and I didn’t think Gabriel’s was necessary at all. As Mo Ryan said in her review, why introduce all these great characters if you’re just going to kill them off. This one bothered me.

    Oh, I liked Pestilence. I just couldn’t watch that scene. It is inspired casting.

    carlotspeak – I suppose I was hitting this episode so hard, the make up on Lucifer I kind of passed on. Good point though. I don’t think it was the best.

    Thursday’s episode is going to rock! I’ve heard some great things.

  • elle2

    Alice,

    I agree on the devastation of Gabriel’s death as well as Mo’s excellent comments on how many deaths there are. [Mo, I read your columns…keep them coming] It is disturbing that so many characters we come to know and love are killed off and while I understand the apocalypse must have and does have consequences still each death is a new and raw wound. [sob]

    I fear however that the death of The Trickster/Gabriel isn’t pointless but more a pointer of things to come…Castiel. My fear, belief and understanding is that, if the five-year mytharc is to be tied up and completed at this season’s end and a new direction to be embarked upon, then characters such as angels are going to have to go.

    Demons can remain because they are forces of evil that have been active on the earth all the time that angels have stood silently as sentinels (as Cas first told us back in Are You There, God; It’s Me, Dean Winchester. I fear but understand that Castiel is likely to be a victim and that Gabriel for his part is a way to ‘soften up the ground’ as well as a foreshadowing event.

    It’s going to be rough final three this year and I fear many tears will be shed as the, I believe, inevitable comes to fruition.

    And I don’t believe Bobby is safe either.

    As for Hammer of the Gods…it isn’t the landmark episode Loflin and Dabb gave us not too long ago but I actually liked the treatment of the world view…as a Christian (and a westerner) I don’t give much thought to the world religions and find it amusing that so many are so upset at the trivialization. No one seems to care how badly blended and incorrectly portrayed Christianity is (or the Bible) and neither do I for I know that Kripke has never nor likely will ever (at least in the Supernatural realm) give an accurate portrayal of anything, be it wraith, siren, bloody mary or anything. This show has always taken bits here, bits there and then added made up or cool sounding bits and thrown them all in a blender, strained it and then added a pinch of salt [or goofer dust] and presented it to us, the viewers.

    Get over it all ready those of you world viewers…’tis just a show without any pretense of accuracy or respect for anything, other than the continuity of the Winchesters.

  • Carlotspeak

    “..as a Christian (and a westerner) I don’t give much thought to the world religions and find it amusing that so many are so upset at the trivialization..”

    You said this quite well. Thank you. Give me more good reasons to stay in door and watch Supernatural. ^_^

  • cnne

    I was deeply saddened by Gabe’s death and while I a westerner and a (sort of) practicing Hindu didn’t mind that the entertainment industry poked fun at the god’s I understand it’s not real and shouldn’t change my mind about which deity(s)I will worship or not
    however it could have been done without implying that vegetarian gods were eating humans and that goes for all the gods portrayed as well just seemed to say that all the deities who are not Judeo-Christian are just bloodthirsty demons or evil
    I really don’t mind people joking about my culture if it’s lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek like fat pizza or the Simpsons ect. but implying that they are cannibals a bit far I might be overreacting but that’s what I took from it
    but Kali “the destroyer” (OF evil things btw) was awesome though hehe