What? No Kiss for Sammy?
by Sylvia Bond
Supernatural Episode Review – Season Five, Episode 10
“Abandon All Hope…”
The ep starts out with a fat cat banker making a deal with a crossroads demon. In the middle of the day yet, and under a busy underpass somewhere in the Big City. What makes this deal interesting is not the deal itself, as I imagine that there are quite a number of CEOs, right this VERY minute, making the very same deal, to save their banks and their retirement funds and their own cigar-puffing-lardo behinds. What makes the mark in this scene is the male-on-male kissing. With tongues and everything.
Now granted, there are any number of hip shows for the under-22 crowd other than Show that have already done this with both genders, and done more than this, and they’re not even on cable. The trend seems to be to add this type of pushing the envelope, and Show is on the bandwagon. Considering its Show’s fifth season, I’d say it was about time. Except no one wants to see a CEO banker kissing anyone or anything, except maybe the public’s collective ass before they pay back all that money they squandered and stole.
Anyhow, Sam and Dean, our intrepid heroes, have determined that this particular crossroads demon, Crowley, has the Colt that Can Kill Anything, so they set a trap. I love the Huggy Bear reference, which by rights makes the boys Starsky and Hutch. Regardless of which one’s which, they use a scantily clad Jo Harvelle, neatly tidied up in classic black as though for a red carpet appearance as a decoy for the Demonic Goons. (And oh, how I do envy the artful disarray of her hair!) This gets the boys inside the Mansion so they can trick the demon into giving them the Colt. There’s some minor whumpage and struggling, but then, the scene takes an interesting turn.
Come to find out that Crowley wants the boys to have the Colt, and enough bullets to do the job right. He wants the old days back, and he wants Lucky out of the way. This low-key, darkly filmed scene gives us interesting lighting across the boys’ faces, and displays stark profiles that seem to symbolize the line that they are straddling. For indeed, when you make deals with demons, or trust demons, or even parlay with demons, you are coming perilously close to stepping into the darkness.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, it’s Sam who takes the step forward and comes close enough to the demon to take the Colt in his large, manly hand. Sam has always been the one, in my mind, who more easily crosses that line to take what he needs to battle evil. Even though, yeah, he’s messing with evil to do it, he’s willing to risk it. Didn’t the debacle with Ruby teach him anything? That when you lie down with evil, you risk becoming evil? But perhaps Sam, in that sassy head of his, feels he will be able to resist the temptation.
Sam (who can play both sides of the good vs. evil line) does a double-cross and pulls the trigger of the Colt in the demon’s face. Naturally, there are no bullets in the Colt at the time, because either Crowley knows enough about Sam, or he knows enough about how rising drama works on TV shows, but he’s got the bullets safe in his pocket. Still he hands them over equably, and I get the definite feeling that this is all going far, far too easily.
This is proven in the next scene, which is a happy, jolly drinking scene, and the gang is all there at Bobby’s house. I am always suspicious when scenes like this come too early in the ep. Plus I’ve been trained since birth that when victory celebrations happen in the first reel, then death and disaster will happen in the second reel, and that good people will die to give the story an emotional punch.
Though, during all this, I adored and applauded the scene where Sam and Dean are looking over their maps and books, drinking beer together. It was like old times as they conferred and discussed, and yes, dithered. (When the boys dither, you know all’s right with the world.) And I liked the bon mot that Dean delivers: “Sam Winchester having trust issues with a demon. Well, better late than never.” (I mean how many times do you hear either boy say their own last name? It had a nice ring to it as it rolled off of Dean’s lovely mouth.) And then there’s Sam’s semi-sarcastic, “And thank you again for your continued support.” Ah, brothers. Even when they aren’t getting along, they are.
Even if it’s a trap, which it doesn’t seem like it is, Dean proposes that he go off alone to use the Colt on Lucky. He’s taking up his big brother role, and leading the way, and slips in the statement that they (he) can’t afford to loose Sam. Sam objects, his face scrunching up in his best “don’t go without me” face. (It’s the most perfect little brother expression ever.) Dean’s about to say no yet again, when Sam drives his point home: “Haven’t we learned a damn thing? If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this together.” Really, this is the smartest thing they can do because each brother is one half of the hero that can vanquish just about anything. It’s a perfect bit of interaction between the brothers, and I love seeing them together like this.
There was an interesting little scene tucked away among all this. Dean spots Jo’s tight, jean-clad bottom. And like any red-blooded American male, and exactly like our biology has been programmed in us in order to ensure continuation of the species, he gets the sudden urge to spread some of his DNA around. It’s the last night of the world, after all. He saunters over to her like a tom cat and does that eyebrow thing and that glitter in his eye thing and then he does that leaning thing, all the while his mouth is moving, talking about their last night on earth, drawing her in for that kiss.
Yeah, we’re close enough to see those famous freckles and the velvet of his skin and all that is wonderful and Deanish, and you know what Jo does? She turns him down, saying she wants to respect herself in the morning. Oh, man, while I respect her decision, I do, I totally would have said yes. I mean, wouldn’t you? Even if she is right, that you have to maintain your dignity even if the end of the world is coming. But Dean so deserves a little nookie, and it’s been ages since he’s gotten some. I’d feel worse for him, but as she walks away, he doesn’t look so much disappointed as relieved.
Then the gang takes a group picture. Bobby sets up the camera and the timer, and they all huddle together in that self-conscious way people do with timed photographs like this. And the picture, again, bodes that an ill wind is coming their way. You don’t take pictures of things that will last, you take pictures of things that you know won’t last. Like this group, a motley crew of angels and bad boys, and mothers and daughters, atypical in so many ways, and I had to ask myself, which one of them will die? My money was on Bobby, of course, not just to be mean, but because I always figure that’ll have the biggest effect on Sam and Dean.
Next up, our little band of heroes arrives at their rain-spattered destination, a town that is completely deserted except for the 25 or so Reapers that the Soap Angel says he sees. It takes Show forever to get all their characters to arrive at the conclusion that if there are that many Reapers, then something bad is going down that will result in a lot of souls needing to be reaped. At the same time, the presence of that many people in black, standing immobile on rain-slick sidewalks and on rooftops, just waiting for the carnage to start, now, that was creepy.
The Soap Angel goes off by himself, which is a big no-no in shows like this one, and even though everyone knows it, none of the characters ever listens. Naturally, he gets himself trapped by Lucky in one of those circles of fire that Show’s been using of late. This time around, the two angelic brothers have a tete a tete.
They discuss automobiles and Lucky’s fast-developing case of eczema, which is indicative of how his meatsuit can’t tolerate the heat of containing the Light Bearer. Lucky wants Sam as his vessel (because Sam is strong enough to take it), and while this particular transformation would be sexy as all get out (I think Evil Sam is hot), Sam cannot be allowed to go into the dark like that. Lucky tries to sell the Soap Angel to his way of thinking, but his evil powers have no effect on the Soap Angel. He’ll die first, he says, and that can’t happen any too soon, I say.
I liked the lighting here very much. For once, the Soap Angel doesn’t look like a washed out piece of paper. Instead, he’s lit by gold and yellow lights that make his eyes dark, and his hair even darker, and yes, I’ve got a thing for dark haired, dark eyed men. The Soap Angel really is quite pretty in this scene. As for Lucky, his skin is peeling off and he looks like he’s not bathed in weeks. The contrast between the two was done on purpose, I’m thinking. Or maybe the lighting guys just decided to give me a small thrill.
Meanwhile, out in the streets, Sam and Dean and Ellen and Jo saunter through the empty town, holding their cocked-at-the-ready weapons with insouciant ease like four gunfighters coming to the Not-So-OK Corral. I know I was supposed to be rather worried about what evil the gang might encounter, but I was very distracted by Sam’s thighs.
His thighs don’t get enough attention (or enough camera time), and they really, really should, because they are marvelous works of art. They are long and densely muscled, and in this scene, clad in nicely tight jeans that show off every curve and pulse and strut. And then the camera pans up and in for a bit of a two-boy closeup, and shows the wind whipping through Sam’s hair. I thought I was going to come apart, I honestly did. Who gave that Padalecki kid permission to be so beautiful, I ask you?
Alas, such happy notations are interrupted by the badness that comes in the form of Meg the Demon and a pack of hellhounds. Hellhounds are nasty because while you can hear them, you can’t see them. And when they are in attack mode, they come for you and don’t stop coming for you till they’ve ripped you apart like so much bloody meat. And unlike zombies, they’re fast.
The attack scene was filmed with herky-jerky handheld cameras, and edited in fast clips. There’s a little bit of Hellhound-Cam, a little bit of running and spinning and dodging and shooting, all mixed together with flashes of hair and legs so you can’t quite tell who is at risk. I thought it was marvelous. That is, until Dean got thrown to the ground and you just know hellhounds are pretty much the only thing that boy is afraid of, that and flying, so I knew he was going to get hurt. And while I like a little whumpage with my Dean, I don’t like what hellhounds can do to a gorgeous body like his; it’s just too painful to watch.
Except I don’t have to, because it’s Jo to the rescue. She’s cocking and aiming that gun in a cloud of blond hair and shooting bullets as fast as she can, saving Dean, saving the day, and then it goes bad, really bad. Jo gets taken down and there’s blood and torn muscle and running, and I thought oh no, not her!
My relationship with Jo has been a love/hate relationship. In the beginning, I didn’t like her because she was so young and foolish and green behind the ears, and yet she wanted to play with the big boys. I hated her cocky attitude, because I knew she wouldn’t be able to keep up and would slow the boys down. Plus, she threw herself at Dean like a little tramp, and she really shouldn’t have been the one to patch up Dean after Evil Sam shot him. Still and all, she’s got history with the boys, real history, not the fake, slap it together kind, so she grew on me.
Dean scoops Jo up out of the street, and the boys manage to get everyone holed up in a hardware store, and chain the doors shut. There is hasty first aid, and sad, dire, almost unspoken conversations, where Dean looks at Sam and Sam shakes his head. Jo is not going to make it, and I could see it coming, the Death Scene, written all over Jo’s pale face. (Someone on the Makeup Team has studied the effects of blood loss on skin, because Jo seems to fade to grey and then to blue white, and it’s really quite well done.)
In the midst of this, Dean raises Bobby on the CB radio for advice. I don’t mind that part, even though, yeah, I’d already figured out that something huge and nasty was going down. Bobby tells Dean that Lucky is about to break the Seventh Seal at the location for the Battle of Carthage, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War. All very well and good, but then the conversation continues.
During it, they discuss what needs to be done, even if Jo is dying. Dean needs some encouragement, and Bobby gets him to pony up. So, excuse me, what is Sam for? He’s right over there, Dean, and could do just as good a job, if not better, in helping to bolster your courage. Instead Sam is relegated to standing around, pouring salt, and looking sad and grim. What a waste of a perfectly good little brother.
But in spite of this, my hat’s off to Jo. She realizes that she’s got a 0% chance of making it, and 100% chance of not, but even so she fights the good fight. The plan is for the boys to make dirty bombs, and Jo will push the button and destroy the hellhounds, leaving everyone else time enough to get away. Jo’s logic is sound, and after all, she’s not sacrificing her life just to save a few Winchesters, no, she’s sacrificing herself to save the world. You can’t do scenes like this very often, or they will lose their punch; luckily the whole thing felt like getting whapped by a two by four in the face, which was effective and unforgettable.
There’s a quiet little moment as everyone says their goodbyes. That is, Sam nods and Ellen nods, and it’s Dean’s turn. This is the kind of scene that Ackles does so well, quiet and slow and still, barely moving a muscle, and yet making it work. Dean crouches in, low, and there aren’t many words for a situation like this one, but with a face like that, you don’t need any. He kisses her on the forehead, a brotherly salute, and then he kisses her on the mouth, and it’s a kiss full of grief and love and goodbye. Like death scenes, goodbye scenes like this one are scarce on the ground, and well they should be. You can’t overdo this much angst, because if you do, it loses its effect. Personally, I thought it was wonderful that they got to kiss at last, because they haven’t really, heretofore now. Though, yeah, I wished it wasn’t for such a dire reason.
Ellen, ever the mother lioness, determines that she will not leave her beloved Jo-Anna Beth alone to die, and what mom would? Besides, someone has to unchain the doors and let the hellhounds in. She sends the boys off, enjoining them not to miss. Then she sits beside Jo and holds her daughter in her arms as they wait for the inevitable end, and yeah, I cried, okay? I cried even harder when Ellen looked over to see that Jo had faded into death, and that Ellen was alone with the hellhounds and the button and the bombs. Still, it made a nice juxtaposition that was in keeping with their characters. Jo makes the sacrifice to save the world, and Ellen pushes the button in revenge because those bitches killed her baby. Listen, I’m telling you, don’t mess with moms. They will hurt you, big time.
I will miss Jo’s sassy smiles and her cascade of beautiful hair. I’ll miss her pining after Dean and wanting to be a hunter, though at her death, I would say she became that. With a capital H. And I will miss Ellen’s no-nonsense tone, the acerbic way she didn’t take any funny business from anyone, and the way her sharp eyes didn’t miss a trick. My hat’s off to Alona Tal and Samantha Ferris for creating characters that I connected to strongly enough that I cried when they died. There’ll be a place for Jo and Ellen in heaven to be sure. Though, this being Show, they could always come back as ghosts, could they not? Or maybe an angel yanked them both out of there in time, but messing around like that would just negate the scene. It would be cheating. Ellen and Jo have to remain dead or the scene doesn’t work.
Sam and Dean find the site for the Battle of Carthage, and are hiding in the bushes. They have a short conversation. Sam says, “Any last words?” And Dean shrugs and says, “No, I think I’m good.” And after a pause, Sam says, “Yeah, me too.”
And even though they exchanged meaningful glances, here’s where I get a wee bit pissed off. Because let’s just stop a minute and think about this. On the one hand, with so much shared history between the boys, maybe there isn’t any need for words, and I could see how maybe Show was trying to play it like that. Or maybe Show was demonstrating how the brothers still aren’t getting along, and so, yeah, even at the end, there’s no communication.
But I know these brothers, I’ve watched them lo these many years. If it was coming down to the End of Days, really and truly the apocalypse, then they’d have something for each other, no matter what else was going on between them. Even if it was just a nod, or a last “Bitch” and “Jerk” exchange. We had way huge conversations between Dean and Bobby, and between Dean and Jo, we had kisses. And yet for Sam, Dean’s got nothing but bubkus.
With all the kissing that went on in this ep, it really chaps my hide that there was no kiss for Sammy. Heck, Jo got two kisses and means less to Dean than Sam ever did. So why not have Dean pull Sam close or even tip his head sideways to get Sam to come close and then kiss him goodbye on the forehead with regret and remorse and a good dose of angst? What would that have hurt?
A simple, brotherly kiss not only would have been nice, it would have meaningful and made the scene that much more effective. It would have signaled that yeah, things are really dire and grim and that the boys’ lives were actually at risk. It would have ramped up the emo in this scene till it was almost off the charts, and it would have been beautiful. Besides, if anyone deserves kissing, it’s Sammy. (Side note, yeah, fans complain alright, but they complain because they care. The second they stop complaining is when you ought to start worrying that they’re watching something else.)
Amidst the gathering of zombie-like people, they espy Lucky digging in the dirt. We find that he’s burying the women and children that he’s already used in his rituals, and you realize that underneath the dirt, there’s a pile of skulls and bones right beneath his feet. (Mark Pellegrino’s Lucky continues to be a wonderfully insidious and slimy character, and I hope he keeps his edginess in place and while the boys will surely best him one day, I hope it’s because they outthink and outmaneuver him and not because he suddenly turned nice.)
Ever in tandem, the boys set their trap. Sam taunts Lucky, allowing Dean to move in and shoot Lucky at close range. Lucky goes down, but bounces back after a second or two and it turns out that the Colt’s power to kill him was just a rumor that he planted himself. Now, I’m assuming he planted the rumor in order to get Sam close, because there the boy is in living color and within arm’s reach. It wouldn’t take too much effort on Lucky’s part to inhabit Sam’s meatsuit, but luckily there’s a rule (well, it’s more of a guideline, really) about angels possessing humans: they can only do it if the host is willing. And since Lucky’s an angel and Sam is definitely not willing, there will be no possession today.
But there is some Dean whumpage, as Dean gets flung into a tree and lays in the grass beautifully unconscious. Which gives Sam and Lucky the opportunity to have a conversation in the half-dark, amidst the bodies and the bones and the carnage, and the unconscious brother, who Sam stands over like a very angry young god. There’s actual brotherly touching too, when Sam reaches down to check Dean’s pulse. Dean’s alive, thank goodness, otherwise we’d have rioting in the streets.
The conversation between Lucky and Sam isn’t new, because it’s still about Lucky trying to convince Sam that there is no other way out of this mess but that Sam allows Lucky in. Sam will never do that, he’s all bluff and bluster and his chin juts out and his shoulders are wide, and he’s a marvelous mess of fear and barely bridled rage. It’s this rage, Lucky tells him, that will benefit Lucky occupying Sam’s body. Sam’s rage can make him powerful and very difficult to beat, but at the same time, Lucky’s right: Sam’s rage is his weakness, and I thought it clever of Show to play off of this. Although I did get a little weary of the obvious comparisons between Lucky and his brother Mike, and Sam and his brother Dean, I do like watching Sam’s face as he struggles through his guilt about the whole mess.
Anyway, Lucky does his creepy ritual, taking a bunch of souls in order to break the Seventh Seal and pave the way for the Pale Rider (Death) to come to earth and start wreaking havoc. Meanwhile, the Soap Angel, still looking all golden and dark, manages to make his escape from the Circle of Fire.
I was pretty much convinced, and by Show itself, that the idea of the Circle of Fire is that once an angel’s in there, he or she will be in there until someone else puts the fire out. There was never any addendum to that particular idea, yet here we see the Soap Angel manipulating objects outside of the circle, namely a bolt on a pipe, which he untwists with his mind. So that sort of ability takes the sting out of all those other times angels were caught in the Circle of Fire and the whole thing takes on a retconnish air, if you ask me. The Soap Angel zaps to the Hill of Golgotha and then zaps out again, taking Sam and Dean with him. Sam and Dean do not save themselves here, alas.
Back at Bobby’s place, the TV announces that the apocalypse is well under way, and Show delivers a nice little tag scene. Well, nice isn’t the word I would use for it exactly, but it’s an effective tag scene, filmed in dark tones. And it shows us that unlike Ash’s death in Season 3, the deaths of Ellen and Jo will affect our band of hunters. We see Bobby taking the picture that he probably developed himself (everyone’s gone to digital now and you’d have to wait a week for Safeway to do it for you, and they’ll probably loose it anyway, so I assume he did it himself), and he throws it into the fire.
In any other show, this might be a tad overdramatic, because after all, why would you throw away the last picture of you and your friends together? It felt like the idea of the photograph had been inserted with a purpose, instead of being an organic development of the characters. Because as far as we know, Bobby was never an avid photographer.
But although I had the feeling of the whole thing being inserted, I liked the symbolism of it. Because the boys have so few pictures of the family, and certainly very few after Mary died (I’m thinking of those old photos we saw in the episode Home, the ones where it looks like the boys and The Dad are on a camping trip, when you know full and well they’re not hunting deer), any photograph takes on huge significance. However, some things are so precious that you neither need nor want a photo of them. Not to mention the fact that there are some images that the camera simply cannot do justice, so there’s no point in trying. The memory will have to be enough.
We get some lovely closeups of Dean and Sam looking grim and sad and beaten down as the photo burns. Dean, especially, looks positively grey from the strain of having to allow Jo and Ellen to make the sacrifice they did. Add to that the fact that the Colt wasn’t the magic bullet, so to speak, that it was cracked up to be. Did they die in vain? That’s the question Dean’s going to be asking himself for the rest of his life.
Where do we go from here? The road the boys are on has been leading them down into the Slough of Despond for quite some time, and there has been no Gaius’s Inn to offer them surcease. I gleefully predict more blood and carnage, and hopefully sooner rather than later. I’m a terrible fan like that to want more suffering for the boys, but they’re so good at it, and watching them in peril is better than sex, better than ice cream. And I like ice cream a lot.
Sylvia Bond is a ten-year technical writing veteran with too many degrees under her belt to count. She lives in Colorado, but does not ski, preferring instead to spend her money and time at the annual Great American Beer Festival, taking road trips across the United States, and reading historical fiction from the comfort of her fluffy green arm chair. She has been involved in fandom since 1993 and been writing fanfic since approximately 1993. What she finds most amazing about fandom (besides the open heartedness of fans and the sheer amount of creativity) is how visible fandom has become. “In my day,” she says, “we had to hide behind P.O. boxes to get fanfic. But nowadays, people wear t-shirts that shout their affiliation and share their shiny toys on the internet.” It’s a wonderful world.
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