Today on Blogcritics
Home » TV Review: Supernatural – “Heaven and Hell”

TV Review: Supernatural – “Heaven and Hell”

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Usually after an episode I’m immediately on the fan boards sharing my initial reactions. I then spend time and more posts trying to debunk what complainers and dissenters have to say, asking people in general to look deeper than what was presented.

I did none of that after watching “Heaven and Hell.” After watching, I was left with more questions than answers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I wasn’t ready for discussion. I immediately did the re-watch, and while the episode came across far better the second time, I was still left trying to reconcile all what was presented. So, in something different for me, I went to bed to sleep on it.

I’m still trying to make sense of it all. The setup seems straightforward enough. On one side are the angels. They can’t feel, they’ve never seen the face of God (except four of them), and they act purely on faith and orders. On the other side are the demons, most of whom were human once and turned demons when they forgot their humanity. The rest are ancient fallen angels following Lucifer. In the middle are the Winchester brothers, one saved by angels and aligned with a fallen angel, one cursed with demon blood and aligned with a benevolent demon (supposedly). The explosive result (besides two very opposite sex scenes) happens when all sides come together in one place to fight for what they believe is right. We get a battle between good and evil, and in the end we still aren’t sure which side was which and who won.

It Wasn’t Flawless

First, I’ll get the nitpicks out of the way, so I can rave over all the great character moments. This episode was written by Eric Kripke himself and his imagination went a little wild here. First, that whole idea of “ripping out grace” is borderline ridiculous to me. Nah, forget borderline. It fell in Kentucky? It’s a tree? Uriel is able to capture it and put it in a vial? All Anna had to do is get her grace back with said vial and she’s an angel again? Don’t angels fall because of disobedience? Sorry, but all that doesn’t even look good on paper. It certainly didn’t work when acted out.

Second, I’m still scratching my head over the construction that went into the “plan” of bringing the angels and demons together. Given the risky timing variables, like Ruby ending up getting tortured and the angels showing up late in the morning (when Ruby sneaked out in the middle of the night), it seemed to be a plan held together by a wing and a prayer (excuse the pun). I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but I figured Sam and Dean would be a little slicker than that. It went over clunky despite the decent end result.

Third, I have a problem with the sex scene. No, I don’t object to the long overdue Dean getting naked and making passionate love to a hot angel in the back seat of the Impala. That part generated plenty of drool-worthy twists in my seat. My issue is I hate Bad Company. Loathe them. They have been one of the most overplayed acts on Detroit classic rock radio for years, and whenever one of their songs comes on the radio, an instant reflex within kicks in to switch it off. Watching the scene on mute delivered the jaw-dropping, hot flashes reaction I was supposed to have.

The Good Stuff

Okay, nitpicks over. Time to focus on what truly made “Heaven and Hell” special. There are plenty of parallels to hammer home the thin and blurred line between both places and who represents them. Let’s start with Anna and Ruby. Even though one’s from Heaven and one’s from Hell, they’re both the same. Both crave humanity and want to know what it’s like to feel. Both have taken a curious interest in the Winchester brothers. Both have used sex to console and connect with a brother just to experience that human side they’ve been so far removed from. Both want to do what’s right. The funniest scene is also the most ironic when Dean jokes about an angel and a demon in the back seat of the Impala. That’s more than a joke. That’s a powerful image showing how both sides aren’t different at all.

There isn’t any difference between Alastair and Uriel, either. Both are powerful, ruthless, and have an intolerance for humans, demons, angels, just about anything. Both have no morals, no souls, nor regard for human feelings. Their purpose is to destroy and inflict harm, and they exist to obey different masters.

In the middle of all this, new possibilities for Sam were unveiled, which is always exciting. For one, apparently he’s been holding back on his abilities (a shock to no one). Ruby accuses him of getting flabby with his powers and he can best Alastair. “You know what you’ve gotta do,” Ruby says. Sam refuses, letting her know, “No, I’m not doing that anymore.” Sure, I already see where that’s going. He’ll go there if it’ll save Dean. I also can’t wait to see it.

When Dean is threatened by the angels’ ultimatum, Sam has no problem with exploring how to kill an angel. The angels aren’t the good guys anymore, and he’s sticking to the allegiance he can count on, Dean. Thanks to Ruby’s Godzilla and Mothra reference, Sam comes up with the plan to bring the two sides together and let them fight it out. Of course it’s a pretty dicey plan, and he takes credit for Ruby’s reference, but it all ends well for now. Score another close scrape for the Winchesters.

One thing that surprised me was Ruby’s allegiance to Sam and Dean. She goes to Alastair alone and endures extreme torture, but instead of saving herself she asks for Sam and Dean’s safety as well. One clue to what’s happening with her came by the way she looks at Sam before she sneaks out. She’s falling for him. Her loyalty to Sam seems to be almost as blind as Sam and Dean’s to each other. We all still wonder if there’s a scheme behind her actions but for now, we can’t assume anything more than she wants her humanity back and is finding it through Sam.

I’m not sure what to make of Dean’s connection with Anna, especially the way she opens up to him. She comes across as both caring and manipulative. She certainly sells the idea to Dean that angels are miserable and being human, even with the pain, is a pretty good thing. She felt his difficult struggle over whether to turn her over to the angels or go back to Hell, and played on his internal guilt in the process. She even compounds that guilt by telling him she knows what he did in Hell, increasing his vulnerability before reaching out to him physically. Hmm, sounds a lot like Ruby, huh?

So, we get the fan girl moment of the episode, Dean’s sex scene. For one, it’s about time one of these brothers got laid in the back of the Impala and considering its Dean’s car, it should be him. That back seat was created exactly for that sort of thing. You know, the days when lovers used to go to “name that point” and name that point (Thank you! I’m here all week). Their little tryst is sweet, passionate, loving, and it reflects what these two most need, sharing comfort through a tender act. A rather interesting contrast to Sam and Ruby’s fiery release, isn’t it? Either way, laid Winchesters make me happy.

Dean’s not going to be bullied again though, especially after caving to Alastair in Hell. He challenges Uriel’s ultimatum, taking the chance that Uriel is bluffing about sending him back to Hell. After all, he still believes he was saved for a greater purpose. Even Dean has his breaking points, though. When given the choice to give up Anna or they kill Sam, that’s a no-brainer. Now the angels play on that weakness as well as the demons. I’m still not sure if Anna knew ahead of time of the plan or knew that Dean gave her up to the angels, but even if she did, her granting forgiveness to Dean is exactly what he needed.

The final scene is classic Winchester heartache with a twist. For one, the two brothers have their talk on the Impala, which is a must. The unique setup in this scene though makes the impact on the audience heavier and it worked beautifully (bravo, J. Miller Tobin). Sam listens in the background, getting his heart slowly crushed while Dean is in the foreground looking forward, baring his soul for the audience, not Sam. Jensen, pulling again from that exceptional ability to blow us away with each gut-wrenching reaction to tragic circumstances, lets Dean softly crumble this time over the confession of becoming a torturer in Hell, something so horrific that none of us, even Sam, could imagine what it was like. Just like Sam, all we can do is painfully listen and let him get it all out. It’s a rare show of intense vulnerability from Dean and a far cry from his bitterness at the end of “Wishful Thinking.” It’s a shame that such acting performances are rarely recognized in the sci-fi genre, for Jensen easily outperforms anyone on the small screen today.

The title of tortured soul of the week though belongs to Castiel, not Dean. Misha Collins with resounding distinction sells the deep struggle within Castiel with only pained looks in his eyes. You know how many directors beg to have an actor at their disposal with such strengths?

No one is more affected by the battle's outcome than Castiel. His conflicted glares at Anna as they are about to destroy her are genuine, and even though she accuses him of being unfeeling, I don’t believe he was. He knew their act is wrong, but he still must obey. What got me was how Dean jumped in and saved Castiel from Alastair, thus turning Alastair on him and Sam. That’s another thing that will continue to eat at Castiel as he continues his obedience. Why would a human do this for him? Uriel didn’t try to help, instead focused on killing the other demons. He watches Anna getting her grace as if it was an epiphany more than a defeat. Castiel is learning about loyalty and humanity, and it’s a hard lesson for him.

Castiel’s time on earth has been an eye-opener and all of a sudden the desire to feel like these humans is getting too intense to ignore. He wants to understand what motivates Dean and why Anna would fall to be human. He wants to understand why Sam would embrace his evil powers, even though his acts justify the means. He wants to know what he’s doing is right. Our favorite angel is being set up for a fall and if that does happen, the results could be incredible. I try not to over-speculate, but the thought of Castiel as a fallen angel fighting with Sam and Dean against the uprising of Lucifer gets me pretty excited.

Other Stray Thoughts

Ruby tells Sam, “You’re pretty buff for a nerd.” She’ll get no arguments from me.

“You cut yourself a slice of angel food cake.” Ha! Uriel can be funny too.

Glad to see Pamela Barnes back and fully recovered from her eyeballs flaming from her skull. She still has her spark, has a new vendetta for angels, and adores Sam’s butt. She’s a pretty wise woman!

Sam had to point out Dean’s confusion of reality with porn, twice.

It’s my belief Alastair was blasted back to Hell by Anna, but we’ll see.

Dean after the conflict tells Castiel and Uriel to go find Anna, as if he’s the field general now or something. I loved that. Uriel vows this isn’t over, and Dean calls him “chuckles” again. Ah, gotta love Dean and his pet names.

As for grades, I guess last week’s episode wasn’t a huge tie-in to this week’s after all. I give “I Know What You Did Last Summer” an A, and “Heaven and Hell” a B+. The clunky storytelling is what lowers the latter. The acting remains perfect though, especially this time from Jensen and Misha (even Genevieve is improving) and we can’t wait to see what comes next.

The show is now on hiatus until January 15, and I’m going on hiatus myself for a small while. I think we all need to catch our breaths and take time to reflect through reruns how truly blessed we are by this show. Happy hiatus, everyone!

Powered by

About Alice Jester

  • Leora

    “…Jensen easily outperforms anyone on the small screen today. ”

    Except Jared.

    Your rating of B+ is right on the money. The storyline was very clunky. While it was nice to see Dean’s back, the sex scene was a little too contrived for my taste. But I enjoyed the showdown between the angels and demons and am glad Anna is gone to — wherever? Ruby is starting to grow on me, however I still do not fully trust her.

    It’s going to be a LONG wait for Jan. 15th.

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    Leora – You are exactly right. Except Jared. I should have clarified anyone OUTSIDE of the show. You throw Jensen and Jared together with Misha Collins and Jim Beaver and no show could stand up against that.

  • Jayne

    How can anyone not like Bad Company? That’s my only nitpick of your review. As usual I agree with pretty much everything you say. You’ve even managed to sort of change my mind on Ruby.

    Only thing is, I’m pretty sure Dean called Uriel “Junkless” not “Chuckles” which followed on from the sexless Ken reference Dean made to him earlier in the dream sequence.

  • strangelove

    Leora

    Jensen outperforms Jared by a mile. No offense to Jared, but he’s hardly the versatile and compelling actor Jensen is.

    Alice, the plan was Sam’s. So, you can blame him for the idiocy of it.

  • tina

    No Jensen doesnt , maybe in Season 1 but not anymore Jared is up there with him easily now , and I find him equally compelling as Jensen and Jared has had less to work with.

  • strangelove

    Yes Jensen does. Jared is still not up to caliber. While he may be better than he was, he still hasn’t nor ever will catch up with Jensen, simply because Jared just doesn’t have it.

    Jared also has had just as much to work with, so I’m a bit tired of the lame excuses about Jared not having the same experience, not having the same stuff. Jared just doesn’t bring it to the table as much as Jensen.

    Heck, look at the scene between Wisdom and Ackles. That crackled with tension and both actors are very good. And that was only a few minutes long.

  • Kam

    Oh, let’s please not turn this into yet ANOTHER Jensen versus Jared comparison. Those are all over the web and are tiresome. Seriously.

    Awesome review. Thank you!

  • Ana

    “It’s a shame that such acting performances are rarely recognized in the sci-fi genre, for Jensen easily outperforms anyone on the small screen today.”

    Being in the midst of a stellar end to The Shield, I’d offer up Chiklis, Goggins and Pounder as contenders for this as well. But considering his age and his network, Jensen certainly is remarkable, and he certainly outperforms any other actors in either of those categories (under-30 and/or CW).

    “Misha Collins with resounding distinction sells the deep struggle within Castiel with only pained looks in his eyes.”

    He’s wonderful, yes. What a great find he’s been for the show… he manages to convey alien, angelic distance, while showing us the character’s growing emotional responses. Excellent.

    Great review, Alice, thanks! :)

  • Sandy

    Great review Alice. As usual I raced home on Friday night to watch online. Since we’re 21 hours ahead I have to wait! *impatient* I did frown a couple of times. And when Anna did the blood thing to stop the first fight and then didnt know how she did it, I found myself shouting “bullsh*t!” lol. But that last scene…well that blew me away. Jensen sure can act!!! Those emotions…those facial expressions….hang on while I swim out of the shallow end… hmmm on second thoughts….think I’ll stay here….

  • Jessica

    “While he may be better than he was, he still hasn’t nor ever will catch up with Jensen, simply because Jared just doesn’t have it.”

    Whatever.

    Alice: Great review! As usual I agree with most everything you said. I think Dean did say “junkless” and not “Chuckles”. The whole ripping out of grace, it becoming a tree and then Uriel bottling it was almost laughable. Only Jared and Jensen could sell something that silly!

    However, even the silliest Supernatural episode beats most anything else on TV today.

  • Theori

    There have got to be some deleted scenes somewhere. The whole “Plan” had to have made sense to someone at some point and it just didn’t translate from paper to screen. Didn’t Kripke write this episode?

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    I’m a mom, so I’m going to do here what I do with my kids when they start bickering over trivial things. I’m ending it with my final say!

    Jensen is an exceptional actor. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why.

    Jared is an exceptional actor. Didn’t anyone read my praises of his performance last week? If anyone believes that Jared hasn’t taken the role of Sam into amazing heights, I challenge you to watch the pilot and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” back to back. Night and day.

    Comparing Jensen and Jared is like comparing apples and oranges. Both are different and bring unique strengths to their roles that no one else can. My point was that Jensen’s last scene in “Heaven and Hell” was worthy of the Emmy reels. A lot of his big scenes are. Jared’s approach is more subtle, but for anyone carefully watching, it’s just as haunting. It makes sense, since Sam’s character is not meant to be as open as Dean.

    So, in summary, they’re both great. We’re lucky to have them on the show!

    Ahem, better now. For everyone else, thanks for the comments! I’ll tell you what actor really blew me away in “Heaven and Hell”. It’s Misha Collins. We better see more of him, for I credit a part of season four’s success to his appearance on this show.

    I’ll have to go back and triple check what I heard Dean call Uriel after the final showdown. I’m working on the full recap now, I’ll have to make sure I hear it right for that. I agree, I’ll give Kripke a pass on one silly subplot considering it’s still better than all the crap I see out there today. For example, Heroes is really silly anymore.

    Kripke wrote this and is also responsible for post production, so if it was edited poorly, that’s probably on him too! Ah, the burdens on being the man in charge. I forgive him though.

    Only six and half more weeks of hiatus!

  • Huppy

    I really liked reading your review, Alice. You give such a good analysis. And similar to you, I could not post a critique on the episode until the next day. I had to sleep on it to see what I really thought about the episode.

    It is not one of the best ones, for the reasons you mentioned. The plot about getting Anna’s grace back and going to a tree in Kentucky was too ridiculous. And Sam actually devised a plan for the angels and demons to fight it out? It just seemed to have happened rather than any plan being executed.

    I was not pleased with Anna. For someone who at one time was Castiel’s and Uriel’s boss, she was so passive. It was the boys who thought of getting Pam’s help and also figured out where Anna’s grace landed. I also really didn’t like that rather than giving herself up to Castiel and Uriel, she waited until after Dean was pressured by Uriel and Sam’s life was threatened. And then Anna tells Dean, “I forgive you.” That was so big of her.

    The way the angels are being depicted is also disappointing to me. I don’t want angels to be unquestioning robots; I thought they would have knowledge and wisdom and understanding of God’s plans. As it is, angels are better than demons, but not a whole lot better. And I agree with you, it is pretty obvious that Castiel, with his doubts and questions,is headed toward a fall. And I guess we are supposed to be happy about that.

    Last season, I would never have thought that we would ever speculate if Ruby loves Sam. When she first started following him around M7, she didn’t know him, so she had to have another agenda. Will that agenda be changed? Does she really love Sam? I am glad that they are integrating Ruby more in the storyline; it gives Genevieve a better chance to act, and I think she is doing better.

    The best scene was the last scene, between Dean and Sam. It was heartbreaking.

    What’s also heartbreaking is no more SN episodes until January!! Oh well.

  • Emma

    Great review Alice,

    I agree the fallen angel needing her angel-juice was a bit of a stretch but they made it work.
    Dean’s sex scene with Anna (thank you Kripke) was stunning to watch. Also, the removal of his amulet I think has a deeper underlying meaning, like he was taking down a wall and letting someone in to see the real him. Anna knew about the things he did in Hell and still cared for him, that’s something he truely needed because he feels like a monster and would give anything to take his feelings away.

    Misha blew me away with his eyes (and not just beacuse they are beautiful baby blues) the agony coming through was breath taking. He truely adds so much depth to Castiel and it is that depth (and relationship with Dean) that I love about the character.

    The final scene: It is one of those scenes from this show that I am incapable of watching without reaching for the tissues. I cried my eyes out. Jensen blows me away and out does hiself every time. Jared has also blown me away (Metamorphosis anyone?) but as a Dean Girl Jensen just gets to me. Truely Emmy worthy.

    This is a little thing I noticed and got from the Dean/Uriel dream scene: When Uriel figures out Dean bedded Anna and laughs Dean’s response is: what do you care, you’re junkless down there, hmm like a Ken Doll? Now not only did I laugh at that line but I also took it to mean that a human mortal man was able to completely satisfy an angel in ways no one else could (and I’m not just talking in the backseat of the Impala). Did anyone else feel this way?

  • elle2

    Alice,

    Great review.

    There was and is so much to love about this episode, some things to like [even I, a longtime non-fan of GC’s acting talent found her at least likeable to watch in most scenes here]and yep, there’s plenty in here to ’cause pause and head scratching and then the question of …huh?

    I won’t reiterate my thoughts as you captured them all above but I will add this:

    I hope the second half of the season brings a conlusion to Ruby’s storyline. Season 3 was her beginning, manipulative, secretive and oh, so not trustworthy.

    This season she’s become a new character — and Kripke did say in an early interview that Ruby’s character would change this season — she’s shown a willingness to sacrifice for both brothers, Dean and her have found a tolerable working rhythm but all that change (and now we’re in the middle of her character arc) comes at a price.

    Ruby’s appears seems a bit clunky, she’s become a contrivance for the plot. There is no mystery that she and Sam worked together training his ‘demon killing skills.’ and she can’t hide from Dean her influence and she’s garnered a fair bit of trust w/her willingness to be tortured by Alistair.

    More importantly to why she comes and goes, because she has quite thoroughly alienated herself within the demonic realm, where does she go when not with Sam and Dean?

    For me, it’s time to answer the ultimate question, what’s her true motivation and the character has served her purpose, she got Sam to open up to his powers. He’s shown a firm committment to not using them again [ don’t believe for a second he won’t tap into them when pushed though ] but it appears based on their converstation that he knows full well what he needs to do = practice. Ruby isn’t needed anymore for this.

    I’m tired/bored of wondering what her ‘mysterious plan’ is w/the Winchesters and hope the Mr. Kripke’s penchant for not leeting storylines whither around unnecessarily means that he’ll be wrapping hers up.

    As for the angels, love the subtle change to Castiel, Misha Collins and EK both stated that Castiel is a bit conflicted and will begin to question what he knows. He’s been questioning more and more since In The Beginning — that end scene before taking Dean ‘back to the present’ shows that what Dean endured in 1973 affected Castiel as well.

    There is a lot more to love than dislike about this episode and it is well worth multiple viewings…go back and watch as Dean ponders that grace falling is pure creation and not ground zero, and then rewatch Lazarus Rising and the destruction around his gravesite…symbolic? Deeper meaning??? Nothing whatsoever??? Don’t know but the fact that Dean ponders it is reason enough, Dean actually is thinking about God.

    Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, not only are you buff for a nerd but what an awesome brother. Loved how he sat solidly at Dean’s back supportive and not judgemental, much like Dean’s lack of judgement at last week’s reveal. Neither brother judged the other for what had happened but it’s interesting that Sam trusted Dean not to judge him and that Dean willingly showed he wouldn’t judge Sam and could sit directly opposite him.

    Dean didn’t/doesn’t trust Sam not to judge him simply because Dean cannot forgive himself. Sam, wisely didn’t push Dean into the confession, he never moved to look his brother in the eye, he knew that any movement on his part would shut Dean down.

    Fabulous. I had thought Kim Manners directed this but on the second viewing actually read the credits and saw that it was J. Miller Tobin. He’s directed BUABS and AVSC so he gave us another treat here and yes, Charles Beeson gave us a masterpiece last week, I had been worried as he hasn’t really wowed me yet, he did last week.

    I’m sanely and calmly counting down until the next new episodes (only 52 more days) and plan to rewatch all series’ episodes in groups by who directed, and then by who wrote…just for kicks and giggles.

    Enjoy some much deserved down time.

  • Baronius

    Alice, I’m glad you had the same misgivings about this episode as I did. Actually, I’ve got a lot of problems with this whole arc. Like with the angels: two months ago, they were beings of unspeakable power. Now, they can be stopped with spells and hex bags and apparently weapons. Demons can stand up to them, and Alistair could even beat one in a fight. And that’s not even touching on the whole grace-in-a-vial thing.

    It’s weird. It’s been a very good season so far, but with a weak arc.

  • http://oohlookshiny.org Rosewood

    Thanks for the review! I think you let Kripke off easy. I give him a B-. Show tries so hard and usually excels, but Metallicar is angry with the cliched and overlong sex scene that smeered a handprint on its window.

    Jensen and Jared’s performances in the entire episode, and then Jensen especially in that final scene lifted the whole episode.
    I agree that like Jensen and Jared, Misha Collins can do more with his eyes than other actors do with their whole bodies and paragraphs of dialog. I hope Kripke really plays out Castiel’s character conflicts – more than just for plot purposes.

    (Also, I didn’t check the TiVo, but I also heard Dean refer to Uriel as “junkless”.)

    I was a bit surprised there wasn’t a cliffhanger; just alot of questions. What else does Sammy know how to do, and what’s he juicing with to amp his mojo? Ruby seemed confident Sam could take out Alistair before he refused to try.

    Did Anna destroy Alistair or just blow him back to hell?

    Why was Alistair able to kick Castiel’s butt?

    If Anna got her grace back, is she in heaven’s custody awaiting trial/execution or is she hiding someplace?

    We’ve only seen a Dean hallucination of her. When are we going to see Lilith?

    So much to think about over the break! cheers,

    Wendy

  • Kate

    Delighted to read your review. I agree that Jensen is one of the best actors out there in television and I would love to see him get the recognition he is due. I am not getting into Jared/Jensen – I think the fact that they pull off a show with only 2 characters showing up every week shows their abilities. That is not an easy task and they can make me laugh or break my heart with just a glance.

    I hate to have to wait for the next episode but I will be going back to watch the older episodes in the meantime – and reading your older blog entries as well.

  • Kelly Hicks

    I always enjoy reading your reviews – thank you!

    However, I gladly followed the storyline this week, even the beautiful oak Grace tree. But I’m pretty easy to please:)

    I do disagree, though, as did other readers, about Bad Company. It’s just a personal preference, but I’ve always thought them terribly underappreciated. Seems they may be to Dean as Kansas is to Sam. I think it was Bad Company that kept Dean and Cassie company in the first season:)

    Have a good rest and I look forward to seeing you back here, all refreshed, in January.

    Thanks so much for your fun review:)

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    Yeah, I knew I was likely in the minority over Bad Company, but hey, I’m always one to speak my mind. To each his own. :)

    I knew Dean called Uriel “junkless” in their scene together after Dean did it with Anna, but at the very end, when sending Castiel and Uriel away, I thought he said chuckles. My fault for not being that specific.

    It did bother me as well that Castiel couldn’t destroy Alastair, and I really think that threw Castiel for a loop as well, adding to his disillusion. I’m willing to grant a little latitude that the angels aren’t the almighty beings we thought they should be, but if they can raise Dean from Hell, they shouldn’t be totally hapless. I’m hoping they’ll get their moments of redemption.

    As for the clunky story in this one (although I do think the arc has been very strong until this), I have this theory that when the writers and producers got together for the script readthrough, several skipped out because Kripke forgot the donuts. How else could that whole team have let such things slide? Ah well, I still trust in Kripke, and I’ll faithfully wait until January.

    It’s possible next month I’ll go back and do some season one reviews. I’ve done three for season two, but I’ve never touched season one. It might be fun to go back and see how much what was done then ties into what we see now. “Home” is at the top of my list.

  • http://www.angelfire.com/blog/cassie4dean Rene

    As usual your review is great. I do have to disagree on the sex scene, I would have been just as happy with a bare backed Dean then the contrived sex scene we got.

    Otherwise I loved what you had to say. Have a great holiday.

  • vichi

    Hi Alice,
    Nice to read your point of view about this episode. I am one of those who actually loved the episode from the first time. I was blown away by Jensen’s performance and his last scene was heartbreaking.
    About angels and demons, well what can I say? I don’t know how they suppossed to be but if Kripke wants them this way it’s fine with me. I am not very religious and this show is not about religion so I wont talk about that:))) But I must say that when they spoke about Anna’s grace falling from the sky like a meteor I though, wow, they are going to find Clark Kent:)))

    The famous sex scene in the Impala: I loved it. I like Bad company and Ready for love was perfect. I remembered that Dean’s first sex scene from Route 666, with Cassie (that was a bad sex scene by the way)was also on a Bad Company’s song :She brings me love. That’s why I love so much this show:continuity.

    The hand scene at the end, in the Impala, was very Titanic and I think Kripke did it on purpose, to tease us and play with us, to see how we’ll react. But also could mean that just like in Titanic, there can’t be happy endings. As silly as is seems, Anna and Dean could be Rose and Jack…no happy endings. So I can understand this scene, this is the way I saw it. I might be wrong…but who knows what Kripke had in mind?

    I loved Misha as Castiel in this episode. He becomes more human and I’m afraid that he is going to fall soon.
    As a Deangirl all the way, I have to say that Jensen Ackles did an amazing job with his character this episode. You could see the pain and the guilt on his face when he betrayed Anna for Sam, or the remorse and pain when he talked about his time in Hell. I was crying with him.

    This show is amazing, it’s not perfect but I like it this way. There are better episodes and worst ones but it’s the only show that I watch not only once but everytime I can. So this hiatus, I am gonna rewatch my favorites episodes all over again:)
    As for you, Happy holiday and can’t wait for you to come back with new articles about this wonderful show:)

  • Suze

    Hiya
    It’s only a thought, but in something I read Kripke gave ” American Gods ” by Neil Gaimen as one of his influences for the show and that has both a giant magic tree and a character who carries her life on a string around her neck, so maybe he was riffing on that when he wrote this episode?

    As for the call-that-a-plan? plan, that was one of Sams, remember, and his saving the day brainwaves tend to come down anywhere between daft and downright insane, so this was quite a result, considering.

  • heraldtalia

    Hi, Alice! I enjoyed your review as usual, and thanks for your constant level-headedness when it comes to the whole ridiculous Jensen v Jared thing. They both rock and neither one of them would thank their fans for bashing the other one.

    I just have to say that I actually really love the mytharc and to me, and like vichi, I loved this ep from the first time I saw it. Maybe it’s because I’m agnostic and a fan of Constantine, Preacher, and Dogma, but I don’t mind the shows depictions of angels and their nature at all. In fact, I’m relieved Supernatural has not become a weekly sermon. I like that Uriel and Castiel are flawed and that some of the demons are possibly stronger than some of the angels–because otherwise, the stakes are much lower because why wouldn’t the angels just wipe out all the demons walking the earth? If it were too easy, I wouldn’t be as on the edge of my seat. We also know Cass said earlier this season that some angels had been killed, presumably by demons.

    As for the grace thing, I personally don’t find it any more ridiculous than a working wishing well (and it’s much less ridiculous than the teddy bear), a cursed rabbit’s foot, salt working against demons and ghosts or any other supernatural aspect of the show. Again, maybe that’s just because it’s all mythology to me and the show is clearly trying to establish its own take on biblical events that does not necessarily conform to the Christian Bible, the Torah or the Koran. I do have to say that some people I’ve been trying to get to watch the show, and who were not necessarily impressed with suicidal teddy bears and B-horror movie homages were very impressed with the last two eps.

    And I am so with you on the Emmys and the acting. As a longtime fan of “genre” TV, it drives me crazy that talented actors like Jensen never get recognized simply because they are on a genre show. *sighs*

    Anyway, thanks for the review and it’s going to be a LONG wait til the 15th!

    P.S. Since you seem to understand the ratings–and I totally don’t–I was wondering if SPN’s numbers have been staying up this season compared to last? And is SPN still the 2nd highest rated scripted drama on the CW, or is that One Tree Hill now? Thanks!

  • http://http;/ Suze

    Hi again

    I’m with Heraldtalia, I loved the last 2 episodes. The idea of a bottle of magic angel life juice is no more unbelievable than the idea of there being angels in the first place. I’m not religious either and I like the way the show is presenting the 2 sides as different in ideology but similar in their methods. After all, the higher up demons started out as angels in the first place so they would have the same fire power and general outlook on things, wouldn’t they?

    Life is good, roll on January!

  • Ande

    Jensen is a much better actor than Jared. Sorry Jared fans. Jensen has a much wider range than Jared. Not that Jensen is perfect. He has moments when he falls a little flat when having to do emotional scenes over and over again to get all of the angled shots but overall he is a much better actor than Jared Padalecki. I can’t tell you how many people I know that watch an episode and are immediately impressed with Jensen and think that Jared is terrible. They actually laugh at him when he’s supposed to be big bad angry Sam.

  • Noni

    This episode triggered a question. When Sam died for several days in season 2 (before brought back by Dean’s deal), where did his soul go by then? Hell, heaven, or a transit/waiting point in between? Even though it was only for a couple of days on earth, but it must be at least 3-4 months in that hell-heaven-universe, because time counting is different there. So maybe Sam could remember his experience there, or what it was like. I just think, if Sam is able to relate to Dean’s torturous experience during hell, Dean might not have to feel that alone. So sad to see him cried bitterly.

    Another curiosity about the torture Dean endured. He was sliced, carved, and torn, until there was nothing left, and then he was whole again. That broke him by the end of his third month down there. This sounds like a flesh torture, which is extremely painful, in literal sense. And yet, I thought heaven/hell is the land of spirit? So how was there flesh torture? Something to ponder, I guess.

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    Great questions Noni! I have this hope that Sam’s time while dead is sitting on the writer’s white board for future rehashing. We’ll see if that ever happens.

    Heraldtalia – Supernatural’s ratings are up this year, almost in line with season two. Only one episode this season failed to top last season’s HIGH. So it’s all good news. The DVR numbers are even better, and the show has even gone over 4 million 3 times with year with DVR added. In a year where almost every network show is declining, this is very good news for an established show in its fourth season. It is the second highest scripted drama, and third highest rated show for The CW.

  • heraldtalia

    Awesome! Thanks for answering that ratings question Alice. I can never understand Zap2it on my own. :) Now let’s hope everyone watches the repeats and keeps the ratings up…. (I even made my family watch on Thanksgiving last week. ^_~)

  • Cindy

    Just wanted to say that for myself, I find Jareds portrayal of Sam to be deeply haunting. He manages to push all the right emotional buttons for me. I’m totally willing to agree that both boys are great, and that I can see why Jensen appeals to so many. But I would also like to be given that same validation regarding Jareds skill. I think attacking the actor or his skills is completely unfounded.

  • Meg

    I have to agree with your original statement Alice. I think Jensen does out perform every actor on the small screen today including Jared. That last scene is proof enough for me. I’ve never seen such a well acted scene on the show and have never felt so affected. Jared while amazing has just never had a powerful scene like that. While I’m sure he could pull it off until I see it I can’t judge. Jensen blew me away. His performance saved what was a very poor episode that followed an even worst one.

  • Lauren

    I agree with your review, Alice. I thought this episode was a bit uneven and I didn’t really enjoy the Anna storyline that much (although I did enjoy seeing Dean’s very nice back during their love scene!). To me, everything is a bit muddled with the grayness of both the demons (mostly Ruby) and the angels (mostly Uriel). And the fallen grace-in-a-bottle thing was just weird. It’s too bad this one didn’t work because I do love the angels’ storyline, especially Castiel’s relationship with Dean, and I do think it’s been handled quite well up until this episode. Again, too much grayness on both sides for my taste, and I think Ruby is the primary problem I have. She’s a demon, and she SHOULD be evil. I really hope she’s just playing the boys and I doubly hope Dean is playing her right back.

    But I will say that this episode was saved by Jensen’s performance, especially in that final scene. He is an outstanding actor. And while I do think that Jared is very good in his portrayal of Sam, I honestly don’t think it does him a disservice by saying that Jensen outperforms other actors on TV. Not all actors are on an equal level, so why would they have to be on this particular show? As Tina mentions, I agree that Jared has grown in his role of Sam over the years. But saying that now Jared is to the exact level of Jensen (merely due to those years of experience), does do a disservice to JENSEN. Jensen has grown over the course of the series as well. So while I think Jared is a very good actor and has given some fine performances, I don’t think it takes anything away from him to say that I feel (and apparently others feel as well) that Jensen is the superior actor and is consistently outstanding on this show and especially this season. I have to say, Jensen moves me in a way that very (VERY) few actors do, especially when he’s given these very emotional scenes.

    After watching the repeats for 4.1 and 4.2, I do hope that the show can get back to that quality of story-telling, but I am very glad to see great ratings the show is getting overall this season.

  • Edith R

    Folks, the reason the handprint a la Titanic was done was because it was an inside joke. Back when Jensen was on Days, he appeared in some print ads with models hocking a necklace that looked like the Titanic Heart of the Ocean necklace. Back when Jensen was so pretty he looked like a girl.

    Nice review, BTW.

  • Marianne

    Alice this is the very first time i am commenting on one of your posts and it will certainly not be the last one.So check out my other comments on your season 4 supernatural episode reviews.i know that you’ll probably not see these comments since the last ones were in 2008 but still i have to comment.
    where should i start with? i like that anna is a fallen angel and that she wanted to brace humanity, but the story with the vial and the grace was a bit too much for me, although i loved how beautiful the tree her grace created was, it was a sign of a divine and good power.
    i like anna’s character so far, and i am starting to grow into this new ruby too. i loved katie cassidy’s badass ruby but this ruby is starting to be great in some scenes too. she seems to really care for sam and even dean starts recognising that she works with them, and is a friend of them (dahh he thanked her, i wonder why you haven’t mentioned that, that was epic). i am sure she is hiding something but i am also sure that we will find out soon so that’s ok with me.
    my only problem with new ruby is that she is way different than old ruby, like two different characters.
    as for the episode a great episode over all, not my fave one but not the worst either, the story seems to be centred a bit more to dean than sam in this episode, somehow sam seemed as a background member and i am not sure how great this is. i mean in privious episodes dean and sam were always there no matter who the story was about (they were always there in the background but still seen).
    i agree with you for the sex scene, the music tuned me off, it ruined the climat for me. i like how sam is the kind sweet one but he has rough sex and dean the overly confident ladie’s player has sweet love. such an irony.
    as for uriel at first i didn’t like him at all(he seemed more like a hired killer than an angel and he irritates me with calling everyone monkeys dude find another word, we are getting tired) but he is growing up inside me.
    alastair seems badass but the way the actor talks doesn’t let us get frightened by him.
    as for angels vs demons: gray zone, having ruby and uriel makes things gray, you can’t make out the bad one from the good one. if someone didn’t know the storyline they could say that uriel is the bad one and ruby the good one. am i not right or not?
    to be honest i liked the scene between angels and demons up until anna’s part, my only complain is that i imagined their battle to be much more powerful and frightening. much more majestic and out of this world.
    uriel acting like a hired killer and taking out the demons but ignoring castiel really heard me, is he so stone cold? doesn’t he give a damn? i liked the fact that dean saved cas, i thnk that he starts liking him a lot and thinking of god too at the same time,dean really gets involved.
    to be honest between dark side and good side.
    old ruby was the ultimate badass for me, manipulative, sexy when needed, roughless, badass, she was really a demon.
    as for the good side, the only reason i like angels (instead of thinking that they are soulless soldiers) is castiel, i love castiel.
    even thought dean and sam are the two heroes of this story, and even thought there are other caracters such as bobby, no one can beat castiel. only dean, sam and dad winchester. but no one else. bobby for me can’t reach castiel’s awesomeness. mischa is doing an excelent job so far, something about his eyes is at the same time so devestating, so out of this world,so emotional, so kind, so angelic, i can’t explain it. i am in love with his eyes and his expressions since the moment he told dean “i am the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition” (oh the way he looked at dean, when dean told him well thank you, i think cas believed dean but then dean stubbed him).
    i love how d calls castiel cas,its so cute, i really looooooooove him. his eyes, one word. his eyes.
    i hope you read this alice.
    i’ll check out this site for any possibly answer of yours.