20 January 2013

Supernatural Review -- 'Torn and Frayed'


Supernatural kicked start the second half of season eight successfully with Torn and Frayed. This episode was more intense than any other mid-season premiers in the past, positioning the story exactly where it should be. 

Torn and Frayed presented a few key game-changing challenges for our heroes and set the direction for the rest of the season. This episode was really both the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Firstly, in the centre of all the madness, the best hunting family, the protectors of innocent people on Earth, the Winchester brothers have managed to stow their crap and moved on as a family decisively. This is essential in keeping the family mojo alive -- saving people, hunting things, the family business. It takes at least two to make up a family, and hunting is a two people job! Secondly, we began to scratch the surface of Naomi's secret agenda, and sadly, with Castiel being the pawn. Finally, Crowley discovered about the angel tablet through the very painful and bloody torturing of Heaven's most adorable angel, Samandiriel (aka Alfie), giving Crowley the opportunity and advantage to get in front of the game. Heaven has been compromised, and as far as the angels are concerned, not only this is the beginning of a new war, this matter is now personal.


Let's talk about brothers' relationship first. Benny and Amelia were written as support material to illustrate the emotional state of mind of Sam and Dean in the first half of this season. Sam found peace when he met Amelia, they had a life together for awhile and he quitted hunting. Sam cared about Amelia a lot, and he didn't want her to end up dead like Jess. Dean escaped Purgatory and befriended Benny the vampire who helped him escaped. Amelia changed the way Sam think about life, and Benny changed the way Dean think about monsters. While Dean didn't think it was wrong to call Benny a friend, Sam didn't think it was right. While Sam wanted a normal life, Dean thought Sam was acting irresponsibly by leaving everything behind including having no wills to locate his missing big brother.


I have not been investing in the Sam and Amelia story as much as I thought I would. The relationship had more time that it should. For the 100th time, I get it, I get why Sam did what he did. Good for him for finding a girl! But at times, the placement of their scenes were a bit out of place and slow. Having said that, perhaps it was intentionally done to remind us normal and happiness didn't belong to the Supernatural. No matter how much Sam and Amelia wanted it, no matter how hard they tried, it was never meant to work. It wasn't written to make us to believe that they belonged to each other.


Dean's friendship with a vampire has been a challenging one. I think at times, Dean felt he was obligated to help Benny because Benny was his responsibility. For Dean it wasn't so much about proving Sam wrong, but it was more the case of taking care of Benny as a friend. Dean is a big brother to Sam, but he is also a big brother to many. Dean cares about his friends in way he doesn't realise sometimes. Moreover, Dean wouldn't want any innocent people dead because of Benny. After all, it was Dean who brought Benny back from Purgatory. But Sam obviously had a big issue with Benny. I admit, I am a fan of Benny. Benny wasn't doing a 'Ruby' or 'Crowley'. It is refreshing to see someone like Benny on the show. The complicity of his character had been more well written than Amelia, Benny is more flash and blood. I think he is a very intriguing character and it challenges the tradition notion of a monster on the show. Was it wrong to befriend a vampire? At least half of the Winchester household thought it was wrong. Was it wrong for Dean to trick Sam into thinking Amelia was in danger? An apology was made, but I don't think Dean meant it. If Sam wasn't stubborn and just trust Dean on this, it wouldn't have happened. Dean was hardly wrong about choosing his friend, except Gordon. But past experience told Sam, thanks to Ruby, befriending a monster could bring upon the apocalypse. Sam only reacted the way he did based on his instinct -- what if Dean was wrong about Benny and Sam could've done something about it? It's about perspective, there is really no right or wrong here.


Supernatural continues to handle human and family relationship extremely well. The core of the show is about the brothers. Torn and Frayed reminds us a very important point -- hunting is a two people job. The brothers do their job best when they work together. They are stronger as a family. Dean didn't think he needed help, he could do the job by himself. But Castiel obviously wanted him to get all the support to get Alfie out. Good move for bringing Sam back. Both Sam and Dean had to sacrifice their relationship with Amelia and Benny respectively to keep House Winchester in order. In the end, the brothers stowed away their stubborness -- Sam chose to be with his big brother, and Dean chose his little brother over Benny. The last scene summed up the whole situation. It reminded me of the last scene in A Very Supernatural Christmas -- two brothers having a beer, watching a game. 


Let's talk about the angels. I am aware of a lot of fans are assuming Naomi is one of the villains of the story, especially after seeing what she did to Cas. That is a fair assumption. But I am not so sure I am getting that vibe just yet. Here is my theory. We still have no clue as to who she really is. She went to great lengths to cover her tracks from rescuing Alfie to killing him. All in the name of 'protecting a secret that any of them would die to protect'. She didn't want anyone to know she initiated the rescue. She also forced Cas to kill Alfie because Crowley's torture session uncovered a secret about Heaven or the angels hidden inside Alfie's 'operating system'. What is this secret, exactly? Alfie's dying words were "they are controlling us". Who? The Goa'uld? The Asgard? The Furlings?


Cas saw flashes of Naomi doing something to him. My initial thought was that she was hiding something in Cas' 'operating system'. Cas' memory was obviously intact -- he remembered what happened before, what he did, his time in Purgatory etc. Nothing is 'missing'. But if a secret was hidden in the 'operating system' of every angel, then perhaps Naomi was trying to remove it from Cas, in case he is captured by Crowley. WHAT IF Naomi is doing a 'Princess Leia' and stored something in R2D2 for Obiwon to see? What if that 'something' is like a weapon or a knowledge that protects Heaven should it be under attack? Perhaps a distress signal to God? 



It's interesting how Naomi insisted on Cas working with the Winchesters when she first appeared. Why does she care about the Winchesters? Perhaps she is taking advantage of their friendship with Cas and simply 'outsourcing' this important task to them because she is not supposed to interfere. If she was allowed to interfere, she would have come to Earth herself and got rid of Crowley long ago. Either she has an agenda of her own, or she is bounded by some rules she cannot interfere. I won't be surprised to find out she is Metetron -- who returned from wherever she was and found out the tablets was missing. If she was a loyal service for God, the first thing she would do was to recover the tablet. And because she couldn't do it herself for whatever reason, she told Cas to do it. She seems pretty powerful, she rescued Cas from Purgatory and summoned Cas whenever she wanted to. I'd be more than happy to invest in her story and I can't wait to see what she is up to! Whatever Naomi's agenda is, what will the Heaven do now? Will the angels seal the gate of hell before the demons get to them? Will Crowley attack first? But the Winchesters have Kevin, so in theory they could take advantage of the situation and seal BOTH the gate of Heaven and Hell once and for all before the apocalypse is back on the agenda again.

"Stayin alive..!"
There were some light moments in this episode. Dean and Cas continued to have this amazing 'Guy Love' chemistry. For those who watch Scrubs would know what I mean by 'Guy Love'. I think Cas did the right thing by bringing Sam back to the case. This move was very well integrated into the story. But what I really want to say about Cas is that, from the bottom of my heart, I feel really really sorry for him! The 'what if I cannot control myself and hurt people' mentality has always been floating at the back of Cas's mind. What will happen when Cas find out what Naomi did to him? As much as he wanted to be free, because of what he is, he can never be completely cut off from Heaven. As much as he wanted to do good, it seems that he will always be 'controlled' by something else. Cas is still feeling guilty about what he did before and the blood on his hand. Killing Alfie and being a pawn on Naomi's chess board will only torn his damaged soul further. To Cas, 'guilt' cuts deeper than swords. 



Torn and Frayed was a solid episode, setting the pace for the rest of the seasons. I really enjoyed it and it left me wanting for more. Last season, I enjoyed more filler episodes than the Laviathans ones, but I am fully back on board with the whole war of Heaven storyarc. I think Jeremy Carver's plan is working in an awesome fashion. Things are resolved when the moment is right. I am usually pretty reserved when it comes to new writers on the show, but having working on Supernatural for years, Jenny Klein's writing did justice to the characters, mythos and story of the show, in ways better than some of the episodes written by Andew Dabb and Daniel Loflin. (But Dabb and Loflin are stepping up and improving.) Torn and Frayed may not be the most epic episodes ever, and over-night success doesn't happen very often. But Jenny Klein put the story in a place where it should be. Sam and Dean are in the right place and the right the mindset to continue doing this family business as a team. Saving the world is a two people job. The Winchesters have Kevin, it is very likely that they will cease the opportunity and stop both angels and demons once and for all. 

What more can a fan ask for? I am happy with the episode.  
 
In rating news, Torn and Frayed had a 0.9 rating with 2.071 million viewers. Previous episode, Citizen Fang, had 2.058 million viewers. That's a gain! The CW boss, Mark Pedowtiz, recently commented on the possibility of a renewal during the TCA Winter Press Tour. While nothing has been picked up and the network is closely watching the ratings, he indicated that "there's a good shot Supernatural will get another season and that it's in a good place, creatively." Source: TVByTheNumbers and E!Online.
 

Next week, I welcome a much lighter episode. Here is the promo for next week's LARP and the Real Girl. Charlie is back, bitches!



10 comments:

  1. I liked this episode Tiny. It was tough to watch, but it was a good, solid episode with some really great highlights.

    I love where we ended with the brothers. I agree with you, they chose family and I think it's a fragile start to rebuilding the trust between them, the love has always been there. To have them on the couch together at the end, a sideways glance, not happy - because they've both been through an emotional wringer - but still beside each other seems like the perfect start to a new beginning. It felt honest and real.

    I'm invested in the angel/Heaven storyline this time too. I'm interested in what Naomi is doing and who she is working for and what are all the secrets she and her kind are protecting.

    And Cass breaks my heart. Just breaks my heart.

    Nice review of a good ep Tiny! Now on to Dean in chainmail!
    -Amy

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    1. I want to see the BIG MAN appears! I have never been so desperate to see God on the show. If he wants to send Jesus instead, I can live with it.

      Thanks Amy!

      YES Chainmail and a hair extension!

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  2. Deanie_24: I like your focus on the brothers' relationship & what really lies behind Naomi & her devious interference. I don't buy her appearance & and curious about what is really going on. The important thing is that the brothers are back together, working together, as they should be. No more secrets. Can't wait for more...

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    1. Thanks V. This episode left me wanting for more! I can't wait to see more about Naomi and her plan! Bring it!

      Tinyxx

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  3. Nice Tiny! I liked all the focus on Naomi u put. I kind of feel something has been out of sync with the winchesters and I can't say their decisions have been wholly understandable. The text seemed underhanded for dean and Sam satay ing on board out of some sense of obligation brushes me the wrong way.,. But I hope this is behind us and we can move on to hunting things and saving people :D

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    1. Thanks Nicole :)

      The whole Sam/ Amelia thing is out of sync to me!

      I guess it's about because Sam and Dean were gaining different perspectives about life and monsters, something they are not used to. Therefore, it is something we are not used to.

      There is a lot to digest actually. The past set the scene for the future, so I can't wait to see more of season 8!

      Tiny
      xx

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  4. I didn't necessarily enjoy this episode. It was harsh and it was sad. But, I really liked it and have zero complaints about it (except possibly the zoom in on Crowley's face - what is happening?!). 'Torn and Frayed' is a really good episode. I absolutely agree with the view that this episode was 'both the end of one chapter and the beginning of another'. Can't wait for the rest of Season Gr8!

    I also loved the Jess reference in this episode. It's great when there are small throwbacks to significant events that have happened over the Winchester's lives!

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    1. Thanks Annaliese :)

      Yes, it was a good episode, but from an 'enjoyment/ fun' POV, it wasn't so much. I guess it's the trust issues, the death, the torture etc..that makes things heart-breaking to watch. Not because it was badly filmed or anything like that.

      The Crowley shot was a bit funny to me. Insert the Law and Order 'dun-dun'.. that would work perfectly!

      Love that Jess reference too! A few of us were like 'hey, Sam, what about Jess?' So it was, as you call it, a great throwback to the significant events in their lives.

      Thanks for reading!

      -tiny-
      xx

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  5. Nice review! Must have taken you ages, LOL.
    I'm looking in because I don't check back here enough - and because I agree about Sam/Amelia. Every time they go to a flashback or a scene between them I'm like 'meh - whatever'. I didn't start watching the show to see what they did between monster hunts, I watched for the monster hunts. I like that Dean followed his own advice and cut Benny loose just as he told Sam to sort his life out, but I really don't want Benny to be gone for good!
    In short, I do think season 8 has been even better than season 7 (I'm one of those people who thought season 6 was disappointing all-round). Apart from the Sam/Amelia arc, it's been frelling brilliant. For me, that's the only thing that's slowed it down.
    Carry on!

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    1. Toza!!! Thanks for reading and your comment. Miss your stuff!!

      I get why Sam did what he did and felt how he felt, but the Sam/ Amelia got more air time than it should. It didn't feel 'funny' when I saw the Dean and Lisa relationship back in season 6. But anyway.. stay gone Amelia!

      I don't think this will be last we've seen Benny. I love him! He hasn't met Cas on Earth yet, I want to see it!

      Season 6 was strange, but season 8 is best in the post-Kripke era. Gameble did great, but Carver is doing even better.

      Tiny
      xoxo

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