It’s kinda amazing how much difference a few changes can make. As I said a while back, it should be no surprise that the messages Sam was receiving were not from God. It’s actually a bit of quiet genius that Supernatural, the contemporary Paradise Lost, leaves God out of the picture the way it does. With so many storylines using tropes of deceit, delusion, and manipulation, the writers have made it all too easy to believe that the Supreme Deity himself maybe no more than a mass hallucination shared by the angels (and now, Amara). But what is not in doubt in this universe is the existence of the Devil. Lucifer—played with such cold, clever, snarky calculation by Mark Pellegrino—is the best of Supernatural’s truly bad guys (Crowley no longer qualifies, if, indeed, he ever did), and if there is a character who can lift the show from the doldrums it has been suffering this season and the last, it’s the Morning Star. Part of that is due to Pellegrino’s performance, of course—it’s clear he loves playing this role. But the truth is that the role itself is what really works here. It’s an actor’s dream after all: the character is completely unpredictable. Because of the way the writers have developed him (based, of course, on Scripture, Milton, and an impressive accretion of myth), you never know what he will do in any given situation. He is, after all, both the most beautiful of angels with the charm to match and an evil mastermind driven out of his head with jealousy by the Mark of Cain. When Pellegrino gets the call to return to the show, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t rub his hands together with glee, wondering what the evil bastard with the silver tongue will be doing this time out. What he’s doing in “The Devil in the Details,” of course, is tempting Sam back in the Cage. As Lucifer’s perfect vessel, Sam is the only human capable of safely “hosting” Lucifer for any amount of time, and the return of the Darkness has created some kind of weakness in the cage. He’s reached out not only to Sam in the guise of God, but to Rowena, who finds him a much more attractive prospect than his heavenly counterpart. (The glimpse into Rowena’s nightmare is quite revealing of her character in a number of ways.) She helps him to loosen the restraints he’s borne for so long, in exchange for a promise of power in his new regime. And she’s foolish enough to believe him. Sam, on the other hand, knows Lucifer better and, while tempted, knows that even if the Devil could defeat the Darkness, the Earth barely survived Satan’s last visit. Instead of weakening Sam’s resolve, it appears that Lucifer’s manipulation actually allows him to get to an emotional place where he is willing to accept the yoke of suffering that being trapped in the Cage with the Morning Star would bring. Unfortunately, Rowena, under duress imposed by her son, is working on keeping Lucifer in the Cage, and inadvertently sets up a situation that has Castiel taking Sam’s place as Satan’s vessel with the Winchesters none the wiser. The brothers walk away thinking Lucifer is still locked in his Cage. Unfortunately for Rowena, one of his first acts is to ensure he cannot be re-captured. After confirming that she’s the only one capable of wielding these mystical keys, he snaps he neck in front of her son without a second thought. Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! Thank you, Satan, for ridding us of one of the most stereotyped, over-acted, underwritten characters the show’s seen in a long time. The sheer clumsiness of the character was never expressed better than in her last minutes as the writer, Andrew Dabb, shoehorned in what was supposed to be a seminal (and terminal) moment for her where she answers Crowley’s out-of-nowhere question “Why do you hate me?” Her answer is supposed to be revelatory, but is as canned as it could possibly be, and makes you want to cheer the snapping sound her neck made when Lucifer broke it. So now, not only is the Darkness roaming around, but Lucifer is wearing Castiel’s meatsuit and already killing angels, and Rowena is gone. Most importantly, “The Devil in the Details” has been a return to the old Supernatural with its lightning-fast plot twists, hot and cold running villains, and the promise of death and damnation around every corner. Let’s hope they can keep that up. Last week’s episode, “Into the Mystic,” on the other hand, was a fairly standard freak-of-the-week, revolving around a Banshee who is preying on a retirement community, forcing vulnerable occupants to bash their brains against walls to drive out the sound of her song and then feasting on the exposed gray matter. Like most such episodes, there’s little new to learn about our main characters, and in this one, the “freak” isn’t particularly interesting. But that doesn’t mean that the episode was a failure by any means. The opening scene was particularly horrifying for me, watching two parents as they first count their blessings around their new bundle of joy and then die in an attempt to protect her. I’m not sure how much of this to chalk up to being a fairly new mother myself (Snowpiercer nearly killed me), but the image of the terrified and now-orphaned child left alone in the cottage with the Banshee as her only company cannot have left only me affected. The clever twist, that the child’s protection comes from her mother rendering her deaf and thus unsnareable by the Banshee, leads to a surprisingly enlightened story about the daughter’s hunt for that Banshee. There is no moment of pity for Eileen Leahy, played strongly by fourth-generation deaf actress Shoshannah Stern, when the brothers find out her condition, though Sam too easily dismisses her as insignificant. She reads Dean’s lips at the wrong moment and incorrectly concludes that they are Banshee’s, damned near leading to Sam’s death at her vengeful (and quite skillful) hands. Her lack of hearing opens up other possibilities in the story (while completely overlooking the challenges that must exist for a hunter who is down one sense), the most amusing being the conversations that she and retiree Mildred—played by a vivacious Dee Wallace—have literally right behind the boys’ backs. Mildred is not deaf, but has some ASL under her belt. And she certainly isn’t blind, as is clear from her instant attraction to Dean. So while the boys are otherwise engaged, Mildred signs to Eileen that she has dibs on the older brother, leaving the young hunter the “tall one,” pointing out that she herself has given up mountain climbing. Mildred later comments on the brothers’ retreating figures, observing how much she enjoys the view, and when Dean takes umbrage at one point with her hand on his knee, she considerately offers to move it up. Wallace’s comedic timing…even in ASL…is flawless. Her flirtation with Dean isn’t entirely wasted, either, as we learn that he has had a thing for an older woman—Blanche from Golden Girls. Of course, it is perhaps a more frightening look into Sam’s psyche to learn that he preferred Sophia. Considering Estelle Getty is literally a foot and a half shorter than Jared Padelecki, one hopes there was a climbing harness somewhere in that fantasy. If it sounds like “Into the Mystic” was a narrative bit of fluff that largely held together humorous moments, that is a fair cop. But there were a few elements that play into the myth arc. The Banshee’s attack on Dean marks him out as vulnerable, something that he inadvertently shares with Lucifer thinking that he’s actually confiding his connection to Amara to his friend Castiel. Lucifer also makes an important mistake by forgetting what a stick-up-the-ass angel Castiel is and getting a little chummier than his current meatsuit’s usual occupant would be with Dean (and feeding all kinds of fan fantasies). It’s a good and natural bit of set-up for what’s obviously coming. That said, though, it was Wallace and Stern who really stole the show here. Fan forums all over the net are already calling for the two of them to return. And Supernatural does listen to its fans. Perhaps it’s best that Dean did slip that bottle of Viagra into his pocket when he thought no one was looking. I sense he might need it to keep up with Mildred. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.