Supernatural 11×10 Review: The Devil in the Details
Well, after a poor showing to end out the fall, Supernatural decided to come back with a bang. The previous episode was not one of their best, and made me quite nervous over the direction they were going in the storyline. This rollercoaster of an episode was a great way to come back from the winter break, which eased my fears, and the writer, director, cast and crew are all to be commended for their contributions to a fabulous spring premiere.
“The Devil in the Details” was written by Andrew Dabb, one of the writers that does very well with characterization and plot. He managed to create an episode that adds rich new details to several characters, including a bit of a possible retcon involving angels occupying vessels, without throwing the viewer out of the storyline in disbelief or irritation.
The new development of Cas being capable of being taken over by an archangel really surprised me. I’m glad they kept the fact that the archs need approval with angels like they do with humans, but the fact they can occupy an angel at all is quite the new development. Can they do this to all lower angels or is Cas special, since he’s more a human then an angel now?
I’m glad that Sam seems to gained a rock-solid sense of faith in Dean and Cas this episode. It does him credit that he’s willing to suffer and die to correct the whole “It’s all us. Screw everyone else” mode they seem to be stuck in the last few years, a mode that Lucifer rightfully pointed out during their cage discussion. The willingness to say “Nope. Not gonna do that. We’ll win the right way” was a lovely call-back to the first episodes of the season. Hopefully, that faith and willingness to save everyone, not just each other, continues through their efforts to save Cas from his older brother.
Amara’s ability to eat angels as well makes her a threat to literally everything in creation. She was clearly weakened by the blast. Could the angels win simply by repeatedly hitting her with nuclear-level smiting strikes? Or is that a limited use ability? Will her new-found weakness help in the fight somehow?
Amara’s comment of how her brother “always has had poor taste in men” was interesting. Was it to tease the fanbase? Or does it imply that the God of SPN has varied taste in people? At the risk of sounding rude, after the Virgin Mary, did he date somebody named Steve or something? With Amara and Lucifer on the loose now, God may be the last great hope the world and the guys have. Although, if he wants to take his time arriving, then we’d also accept the reappearance of Gabriel to delay the bad guys. I know Lucifer said Gabe was dead, but what does he know? He’s been locked downstairs forever, and I doubt he’s got internet access or a reliable source of gossip.
The episode was directed by Thomas J. Wright, the man responsible for the direction of “Baby”, “Meta Fiction”, “Goodbye, Stranger”, “Repo Man”, and a number of other episodes. I loved the framing choices he made in the hell scenes, with fire at the beginning of nearly every shot. The bits of the past were an interesting way to do exposition, especially the new angles and shots of existing scenes like the the Stull Cemetery scene. I also appreciated the storm soundtrack over the last scene of Cas and the Winchesters. It gave you the right kind of unsettled feeling, especially if you recognize that it’s the same sounds used over the scene at the end of “Swan Song”, where Soulless Sam first appeared, and we first got set on the plot track of “an unfortunate decision by Cas goes badly in the end” that eventually led us to the current disastrous monster.
Crowley just can’t win. I’d like to complement Mark Sheppard for the acting in that last scene, too. I never expected to feel sorry for Crowley again, but that tear-up of his made me want to give the guy a hug and a teddy bear. Well done.
On a similar note, I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what Misha Collins does with the new Lucifer-in-a-Cas-suit role. He managed to mimic Mark Pellegrino very well in movement, tone and expression, while simultaneously reminding me of videos of Misha’s shenanigans at conventions. However it turns out, good or bad for Cas, at least it will be interesting to watch.
Sadly, although I do love a Dabb script, I have a point of contention to make note of. There are only 3 women in the episode this evening, and 2 of them were the designated deaths of the episode. That is not a good step for representation. Leaving the Reaper Billie alive, although greatly appreciated, doesn’t make up for the loss of the others.
In a similar vein, although I understand the necessity of the witch catcher device, did it have to be a collar and leash? Could it have been something a little less degrading, like a set of handcuffs or a bracelet or a jacket or something? At the very least, no leash. That just felt more misogynistic than normal.
The death of Rowena is particularly galling. The character got another layer of definition with her admission to Crowley about exactly why she hated him, one that made me feel rather sorry for her and Crowley both, and her near immediate death afterward frustrated me to no end. Why are we doomed to only get interesting information on charismatic characters when they’re destined to not walk out of the episode? Can we get these little character moments at other times, please? Preferably at a greater frequency as well?
Watching the episode did raise a number of questions and observations for me. For example:
- We now know that Rowena was lying about not knowing who Crowley’s father is, and possibly about the orgy as well. Are we going to meet him in the future?
- Reapers and demons working together again. I hope it goes better for Billie then it did for the last reaper that tried it. I loved that Billie the reaper was reading “Death: The Time of your Life” comic by Neil Gaiman. Excellent touch for the character. Made me want to break out my own copy and read it again.
- The opening Christmas scene was cute, although it felt a little out of place. It would have gone over better, I feel, if it’d been in an episode that aired during the actual Christmas season. I did love Crowley’s footy pajamas and the Funko Sam doll, though. Also, much love to Misha and Ruth for tweeting the great behind the scenes picture of this scene.
- Cas’s terrible decision at the end of the episode, Amara’s comment that Cas has the “reek of fear and self-loathing”, and the other angel cheerfully labels both herself and Cas as “expendable”. When lumped together with Crowley’s “why do you not love me?” routine and the Winchester tendency to think badly of themselves, I’m left wondering if anyone has any self-esteem on this show.
- Angel smiting on a massive scale leaving a nuke-like radiation signature was an interesting touch. I bet the government is gonna love that one. How do they explain away the mass supernatural events that pop up over the years? Do they just send out Mulder and Scully, and if so, can we get a cross-over episode? (please?)
- It was nice to see Colin Ford again.
- Where exactly was Cas gonna stick that finger?
All in all, I did enjoy the episode, far more than the previous one. They’ve started down an interesting story track, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads. Hopefully, the resolution turns out well for everyone involved, audience included.
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