Supernatural 11×9 Review: O Brother Where Art Thou?

Supernatural -- "O Brother Where Art Thou?" -- Image SN1109A_0286.jpg -- Pictured: Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Supernatural — “O Brother Where Art Thou?” — Image SN1109A_0286.jpg — Pictured: Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Many fans have been decrying that season 11 is the worst season to date.  I disagree.  You can’t top how terrible season 7 was, but episodes like this make it hard to refer to it as even remotely “good”. The plot holes were so big I could drive an Impala through it; I often wonder what the script supervisors are actually doing most of the time.  Not only were the inconsistencies jarring, but the weird Amara sexuality issues are still chugging along, making me rethink the show’s supposed shift on female representation.  No, this isn’t the worst season.  But man, it’s not remotely good.

SPN2I almost feel bad about my issues with Amara.  She could have been an interesting villain if it wasn’t tainted with the weird age issue and the dubiously consensual (ugh, non-consensual, really) relationship with Dean.  The idea of an all-powerful creature with abilities equivalent to God is super intriguing, but the romantic relationship between Dean and Amara, when just a few short episodes ago she was a child, is something I cannot get past.  Furthermore, Dean didn’t ask to be partnered with her.  Any romantic or sexual advances she makes on him lack his consent.  Hell, he even flat out said “no”.  At best, he’s attracted to her by supernatural means, which makes his feelings false.  At worse, he doesn’t actually feel anything and she’s just throwing herself on him repeatedly despite him saying no.

I know people’s first thought when they read my criticism of Amara will be that I’m opposed to her because she ‘gets in the way of a fictional ship.’  No.  I’m a Destiel shipper, and I don’t hide that fact.  But I adored the sweet relationship between Dean and Jo, and I enjoy what could have been between him and Lisa (though I wish Lisa would have been fleshed out a tad more).  In fact, I adore new women on Supernatural in general and appreciate efforts to have permanent female characters on the show.  This is why I feel guilty about my anger about her.  She could have been good.  But alas, she’s a complete train wreck and makes me extremely uncomfortable.

But let’s be real, we’ve complained enough about Amara on this website.  And it wasn’t even remotely the worst thing about this episode.  The entire premise was flawed.  The point of the episode was to break into The Cage, as though that were some impossible task.  Castiel got into it at the end of season 5, but the angel was nowhere to be found in the episode.  If Castiel was going to refuse, at least make that explicit on screen.  Hell, they could have simply included a throwaway line from Dean about it and this plot hole would have been sealed up.  Instead, this is a giant plot hole.  Where’s the angel, anyway?  Probably watching season 8 on Netflix and reminiscing about better seasons.

Source: allthesupernaturalgifs.tumblr.com/

Another plot hole that drove me up the wall was the inclusion of Mark Pellegrino as the representation of Lucifer.  In Sam’s flashback it makes sense.  Sam has to have some sort of mental representation of him besides a multi-dimension wavelength of celestial intent.  But in person?  That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  But honestly, I don’t know how this plot hole could be closed up.  You can’t exactly have Sam have a conversation with Lucifer’s true form, either.  Maybe have him possess Adam’s body?  And where is Adam anyway?  Did we really forget about him that much?!  No really, WHERE IS ADAM?!  And where is Michael?  Even if Adam’s poor body was burned to ash, his angelic self should still be kicking around.

Here, let me fix this plot hole with a five second fix: Rowena’s spell created a visual representation of Lucifer and what we saw in that cage wasn’t remotely accurate to what’s actually there.  Boom.  Done.  Why couldn’t the writers have fixed it this easily? I don’t know.

While 95% of this episode was terrible, I actually did enjoy the scenes between Sam and Lucifer (plot hole not withstanding).  I thought the visuals of the cage and Hell were eerie and well done.  They were simple, but we don’t really need complexity with Hell.  The minimal red ambiance and occasional flashes of otherworldly lightening were enough to get the point across.  It set the scene beautifully.

As a final note, I love Rowena.  Seriously.  This show can have a ton of problems, but Ruth Connell is a bright shining star in all the madness. I’m glad she exists.

I have further thoughts on the season as a whole, but myself and several other fans are working on a midseason roundtable to discuss everything in context.  We hope to have it up by the weekend, but there’s a lot to analyze after these nine episodes, so we may need some time to digest it.  We’ll be talking in depth about Amara, the representation on women on the show, that Hellish cliffhanger, and much much more.  Stay tuned!

 

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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About the author

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She's contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She's written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.

Comments

  1. Sam could have faced his mirror image as Lucifer. That was great acting on his part before & no reason not to do so again. Instead they use Nick – who was never in the cage!
    Wondering if anyone else was thrown off by weird camera work? Or melodrama music?

  2. Here, let me fix this plot hole with a five second fix: Rowena’s spell created a visual representation of Lucifer and what we saw in that cage wasn’t remotely accurate to what’s actually there. Boom. Done. Why couldn’t the writers have fixed it this easily? I don’t know.

    Isn’t that exactly what happened? Specifically:
    1) Crowley said meet at a neutral location. He created a cage in Limbo. It’s not the actual cage, it’s the neutral location cage.
    2) Rowena set up the wards to keep Lucifer in the cage
    3) Lucifer said he’d need an actual body if he was to go “up top”. Which makes it pretty clear we aren’t looking at a Nick meatsuit. We are looking at a form Lucifer chose to use for the meeting. Further, since Lucifer was the one sending Sam messages and Sam manifests Lucifer in his mind as Nick’s meatsuit — why would Lucifer use anything OTHER than Nick’s meatsuit form.
    Bottom line: It’s not a meatsuit in the cage. It’s Lucifer’s choice (while still in Hell, albeit the Limbo section) as to how to appear. Nick-suit is how he shows himself to Sam.

    While I agree there were plenty of plot holes, this wasn’t one of them IMO.

    As for the episode, well except for the utter lack of Cas or explanation for his location, I liked it. The lack of Cas is a major issue but since they are setting up the Angels to try and smite Amara all at once, I think they didn’t want Cas involved in that fray. But… no valid reason IMO exists for Sam and Dean to attempt to talk to Lucifer without Cas in the know.

    I also find Amara fascinating. Like all good villains, she doesn’t think she is one. She doesn’t get (like, at all) that our ingrained “dark is bad and light is good” is going to be a problem between her and the rest of God’s creations. She definitely strikes me as a Jasmine-like figure. Her plan seems to be give everyone bliss and she’s the all-powerful one. But she hasn’t revealed the whole plan yet — and her true nature showed when she told Dean he didn’t need to know that information. She also probably didn’t realize that she’s made a mistake telling Dean that their “bond” is destiny. He’s kinda the anti-destiny guy. He’s all Team Free Will and she is not.

    Anyway, I’m bummed you don’t like this season. I think it’s been excellent with the glaring exception of Cas being inabsentia. I’m VERY worried about Cas and if this isn’t corrected in the back half of S11, I really don’t know WHAT TPTB are thinking.

    1. Is it what happened? They didn’t make that explicitly clear. My interpretation of it was that they actually plucked the cage out, like, in total. If my five second fix is accurate to what happened, then maybe they should have made that much more clear because I had to fill in that gap myself.

      The season isn’t the worst, but it’s not good. Amara is highly problematic and I really do want to like her. She could be great. Her premise is really interesting! But the consent issues and the age issues are just too terrible to get past.

    2. Yeah, I wanted so much more for Amara, but the way they’ve handled her is godawful. The Twilight rapid aging, the “bond” that is obviously mind control, everything else.. just.. smh. I genuinely hope Dean breaks free soon and that he, Sam, and Cas send her back where she belongs.

      I am so scared for Cas and what they’re going to do to him. It would be nice for him to know how loved he is, but I’m guessing he’ll continue the season scared, sad, and alone. And that’s bs.

  3. I agree about Lucifer/Nick. Sam (and we) need some kind of visual representation to respond to, and having the man we associate with Lucifer onscreen means we get it right away, no time wasted explaining who/what is there. If Lucifer goes topside he needs a vessel, which will be Sam, as always, and we’ll know that too.

    I got excited when I started watching the development of the Amara character. Here was an opportunity to create a new type of Big Bad-ish threat: a god-like being, not familiar with human customs, ancient, capable of destroying everything or changing everything. I thought this could potentially be as big a game-changer, if not bigger, as the angel storyline when it appeared. It’s been really interesting, but when they started trying to get across the idea that there’s some kind of connection w/Dean, or rather, that she has influence and a hold over Dean, then it started going off the rails. Apparently the only way they can think of to show that is to sexualize both of them. I will say that that moment in O Brother was very creepy and spooky, and not remotely romantic. Because of the writers’ choices her primary way of showing influence over Dean is sexual advances, and he was absolutely saying no, backing up, clearly being forced/influenced by this powerful being. Major noncon – which, by the way, is totally in character for Amara. The same with Lucifer’s bunk-sharing comments to Sam at the end: not the show making a distasteful joke, as I’ve seen others complaining about, but an evil character making a dreadful threat.

    The moments with Sam and Lucifer were excellent. Jared and Mark really work well together. Rowena was brilliant. 🙂

    Michael/Adam and the cage: they’re in a different cage. The cage Lucifer is in when Rowena’s spell draws him up is NOT the cage we first see him in.

    Overall, it was a pretty poor episode: choppy, paid little attention to the story’s past, weird transitions, weird music, very little forward motion to keep it interesting, just lots of exposition. And not a word about the one person who actually knows about the cage and getting people into/out of it, no explanation of why they went to Crowley (!) instead of Cas, not even a phone call to address Cas’ non-presence, after several episodes of his being part of the story. I don’t know what they’re thinking, but this was the most lukewarm mid-season ‘cliffhanger’ finale ever. Ratings, what are they?

  4. Not sure how I feel about this ep. Lucifer was GREAT. Mark Pellegrino is an absolute dream and he made the ep for me. I figured he was the one who had been communicating to Sam all this time, but I hope god intervenes and yanks Sam out of the cage before Lucifer breaks him down completely. The single man tear when Sam realized he was trapped was well done on Jared’s part! The rest was just kind of.. eh? Amara is a crazy, creepy chick and I reeeeeeally need Dean to break free of her mind-control so he can help knock her back where she came from. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to stop her – and no, Amara, you and Dean are not going to “become one.” As Dean himself said, that’s not gonna happen. He is obviously going to resist her and gank her in the end. But I love that he pulled back and wiped his mouth off after she kissed him.. that legit made me laugh. Hmm.. what else? Rowena fangirling over Lucifer was priceless. And for the love of chuck, where was Cas? Made no sense that Sam and Dean forgot that they have an angel BFF who could have answered all those questions and helped them. He’s even been to the cage before. Really, writers? Kind of a massive oversight and I really don’t want to have to wait until January 20 to see Cas..

    And yeah, the obvious consent issues with Dean are beyond awful. HE SAID NO. He obviously wants nothing to do with her, and yet she has him sucked in with some kind of mind control. It’s gross, and not at all what I wanted for her character. Do better, writers. Amara predates the universe, I really doubt her main goal is to stick her tongue in Dean’s mouth at this point.

  5. I agree with the part that you said it was not very clear why they didn’t give us a more obvious explanation of why Lucifer is in Nick/Mark vessel when he talked to Sam through the cage. We can guess and can come up with some theories to explain but there was no obvious actual script in the show that tell us which theory is true which then becomes one of flaws in this episode and prevents it from the perfection or the better way that it can be. And so as where are Adams and Micheal question? Although, Sam’s memory in Hell with Lucifer patting his cheek gently is awesome and makes more sense to present Lucifer in Nick vessel. I’m not gonna go through how much I like that scene here.

    Cas was forgotten like he is not part of the show which is very upset me. At least they should mention to him like they don’t want him to get into more trouble by trying to help them doing something with the cage in Hell which I suspect will need his ability to fly which he no longer has. They can at least mention that Dean or Sam don’t want to remind him that he is no longer useful since he can’t fly or make him feel that way which is why they turn to Crowley instead.

    Rowena drooling over Lucifer is good too. You probably not want to hear me say it repeatedly because it is like what you said.

    I’m not gonna complain their Lucifer cage design either.

    However, I really think Amara plot is very interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Destiel fan too, but their sexual tension is undeniable. I get it that the writer seemed to try to drag them together and try to bond them with a kiss or sex, but can’t you just look the other way which I am going to explain. According to Amara, she said she can give him a happy ending for eternity for him and showed him via the kiss. Despite that, he said no to her even before she kissed him due to miss trust. I think it is more interesting to see him trying to deny the thing that deep down he wants, but, with his trust issue with God or any other creatures that trying to convince him that they can give him the happiness, he automatically deny it.

    After watching every seasons of Supernatural until now 11×9, all I want to do is help Amara sending God to the cage (Amara’s so-called cage or Lucifer’s) and let both of them walk the Earth. Start everything over.

    Have you wondered after learning that Amara who is God’s little sister eat souls that if she who is the same kind as God eat souls, perhaps, he too, eats souls as well?

    1. I’d love to see something in a coming episode that explains exactly what is meant by ‘sister’ in this context. These aren’t siblings of common parents; they’re presented as omniscient, all-powerful beings, not humans. That said, I thought from the beginning that Amara is likely God’s equal, a being who’s been around as long as God, possibly even older. It’s not a stretch to think they’re the same kind of being, equals. And that would mean that God does indeed eat souls, or at least is capable of it. These are the kinds of things I hoped for when Amara was introduced. Kinda disappointed so far.

  6. I don’t get the uproar over the kiss. Yeah, maybe it was non-con? Dean definitely seems affected by her. But Lucifer clearly has sexually assaulted Sam in ways far more skin-crawling than a kiss, and threatened him with it again in this episode. Even if the kiss was non-con, these are the elements that make this a horror show. The characters are not meant to run happily off into the sunset. Sam and Dean having their choice taken away from them is frightening. Lucifer’s threat in particular made my blood run cold, and by Sam’s reaction, Sam knew exactly what he was facing. It’s meant to be horrifying. But why is this “wrong” for the show? Possession has always been a metaphor for rape on this show, and this kiss isn’t even close to the most disturbing imagery Supernatural has used. I think it’s interesting that Supernatural is delving into the idea that men can be assaulted. Very few shows on TV have done that. It’s not a show where we should expect our characters to live happily ever after.

    That aside, I thought the episode was disjointed. Rowena’s fangirling over Lucifer was amusing. Sam’s tear at the end was heartbreaking. Jensen and Emily’s chemistry is fantastic, although I think that Amara’s game plan is bizarre.

    1. I will be addressing the themes of assault against Sam in the roundtable. It’s more of a topic from previous seasons, and besides the throwaway comment about sharing a bunk (more on this in the roundtable), assault against Sam hasn’t been a constant theme of the season until this point. One of the topics is the roundtable is the cliffhanger, however, so it’s definitely relevant there.

      Also, many of us do not find sexual assault to be an interesting or appropriate plot. Of course these characters aren’t happy, but us criticizing sexual assault does not mean we are expecting the show to become a light hearted feel good comedy. It means that we feel that this is a gross plot point and the show could be dramatic without subjecting their characters to this in such a shallow manner. If they are going to deal with sexual assault, they should do so in a much more sensitive manner. I don’t feel like they are doing the topic justice and are just treating it as a casual plot point. That’s not right. That doesn’t mean I want the show to not be dramatic or put our characters in mortal danger, so please don’t make that assumption.

      Sexual assault is not a topic that should be taken lightly. It shouldn’t be treated as a casual plot point. That’s disrespectful and gross.

      1. Sexual assault isn’t appropriate? Why is it less appropriate than murder? And why is it less appropriate than possession, which literally takes away all choice from the person? I can see the argument that any TV show that takes on this topic should be careful, but just saying that a TV show can’t do it is head-scratching. I don’t think I’m taking sexual assault lightly, but in a show that is based upon monsters doing monstrous things, we shouldn’t be surprised when the characters are on the receiving end of horrible things. And maybe I used the wrong word when I said it was interesting. My point was that very few shows have explored what it means when a man is on the receiving end of a unwanted sexual advance. That’s unique, regardless of whether you agree with how they’re doing it. How would you have them address sexual assault in this show?

        1. All right, I’ve read a few more articles on this site and I think I know what ya’ll are about now, so I’m going to peace out. I’m going to leave with this: sexual assault can be done in a TV show. There’s nothing wrong with that. Rape and sexual trauma are not imaginary. They’re real. They happen every day. They happen to us and around us. It’s time we acknowledge that, instead of dancing around it like it never happens or like conversations about it should only happen in safe places in the appropriate settings. Real life is messy and hard and people have different reactions to sexual assault, and some of those reactions aren’t always the “right” ones. TV shows should emulate that. When we put sexual assault on some pedestal, like “TV shows can only talk about it when they say XYZ,” we not only limit ourselves in the stories we can tell, but we limit our ability to have honest conversations about what rape and trauma do to people.

          1. Thanks for poking around the site and understanding what we’re about. You don’t have to peace out if we disagree, but I understand if you choose to go. I do appreciate you bringing an honest and engaging conversation to this review, though. We may disagree on how sexual assault differs from other types of assault, but it’s definitely a worthwhile conversation to have. I appreciate you joining the conversation regardless of our differences in stance.

          2. THIS, 100%. Not a comfortable subject, but a conversation that needs to happen. Thank you.

      2. I have to disagree that sexual assault is an inappropriate subject for this or any other show. If they were making a joke about it, treating it lightheartedly, that would be a valid criticism, but they’re not doing that. Lucifer was making a very specific threat, and Sam got the message. IMO Amara’s behavior toward Dean, while arguably not as traumatic, is in the same vein: a powerful being with evil intent used that power to control and intimidate the other person. Neither incident was presented as humor, but as a demonstration of Lucifer and Amara’s destructive intent.

        1. It’s appropriate if done right, but the sexual issues with Amara are being played as sexy, which is gross. Sexual assault is not sexy and I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to handle such a heavy topic.

          1. Not sure what you mean – Amara is being played as sexy, which I think is lazy on the writers’ part. As someone else commented, writing an ancient, godlike being as focused on making out with Dean is just silly. The reaction I and others have had to Amara’s advances: that is just creepy, which is the intended response, I believe. She’s not cool or a romantic interest; she’s manipulative and destructive. Dean’s certainly not having a mutual-attraction response to her.

            1. I agree. I don’t think this is an appropriate way to handle such a delicate subject. It is both silly and offensive. Sexual assault is being portrayed as sexy on her part. It’s not good.

              1. Didn’t see this reply till now, sorry. 🙂 IMO sexual assault isn’t being portrayed as ‘sexy’; it’s creepy and frightening. Amara is being written/played as sexy, which, as I said before, is lazy on the part of the writers and directors. She’s also written as confused by human culture, responding as an alien creature might in this situation. To be honest, they’re not going very far below the surface in this story (not for the first time in SPN); they’re just giving a surface treatment of the possibilities. Disappointing so far.

      3. Supernatural deals with a lot of difficult subjects in a very casual manner. Losing your parents, alcoholism, parental neglect, PTSD, grief, pain; they deal with it in a very ‘real’ way because in real life, we don’t all get to be all sensitive and caring or even deal with things in healthy ways. That’s what makes this show so believable; it might literally be happening around the corner.

    1. Hi Red Fawn, you aren’t welcome on my website. In fact I’ve blocked you before so coming back after an IP ban is grounds for yet another IP ban. Please stop trying to get around the ban. Thank you.

  7. I sometimes feel when I read some reviews, as if we were watching completely different shows. For you this is the ‘worst season’ of SPN but for me, its one of the best post Swan Song seasons. It soothes my heart with how well the boys are getting along for the first time since the pilot really; It has one of the biggest bads of them all; Its not afraid to go after ‘god’ in terms of his sister talking utter shit about him. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Amara; she is so focused on finding God, getting his attention but at the same time she finds us all quirky, strange and delicious. It’s laughable to me that you’re complaining about her being a child a few episodes ago as if she wasn’t a billion year old entity. It’s also laughable for anyone to accuse anyone of sexually harassing Dean. First of all, both of them were mystified by the connection between them; no one was throwing themselves on the other. On the other hand, it is – what did Chuck call it in season 4? – literary symmetry? Sam was attracted to the wrong chick in season 4; Dean’s attracted to the wrong chick in season 11. You can say that both were coerced but at the end of the day…
    Also this OBSESSION people have with females being offed…Let’s talk about the story for a minute. Lucifer just escaped the cage; he doesn’t want to go back. He’s also a psychopath. The only one who can open the cage again is Rowena. So he kills the witch. It has nothing to do with her being FEMALE or MALE. Its about eliminating a threat. What would you rather he’d have done which would have been believable? Really. tell me. As for Angel no. 25 who got killed; would you rather she would have been a guy? Do you see a guy having that conversation with Cas? and it had to be had. So…again. Get over it.
    Real Question: a lot of people on here complaining about how bad Supernatural is; but you watch the episode, get on the internet and look for reviews, read those and comment…explain?

    1. I won’t be “getting over” the mistreatment of women in media, sorry. It’s a rather dismissive attitude you have about our concerns.

      I would comment much more in depth but I’ve been battling a respiratory infection all week and this is the first I’ve been able to open a computer since Tuesday. But otherwise I’d be refuting much of what’s in this comment. I just don’t have the brainpower while on 2 different prescription drugs, and OTC drug, and a boatload of vitamins. Maybe when I’m feeling better I’ll revisit your comments.

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