Supernatural Review 9×14: Captives
This episode came off as a giant apology for the mistakes of the previous couple of seasons. I generally liked season 8, but there were a few key points that bothered me. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I have been less than thrilled with season 9 so far. The overall themes and individual episodes have been very upsetting on many levels. This one was written by Robert Berens, who also wrote Heaven Can Wait, another highlight of the season. This one wasn’t a perfect episode, but it was far better than most of what we’ve had this season. Out of the 14 episodes we’ve had so far I’d definitely rank it in the top three.
To start, this episode marked the return of Castiel. It was highly anticipated among Cas fans and #CastielReturns even began trending on Twitter within the first 20 minutes of the episode. His arc this episode looked to be a rehash of what he’s already gone through for many seasons. He seems to be too trusting of people and winds up working for the wrong side. He managed to back out of this situation quickly, though. I’m grateful this wasn’t another multi-episode arc where Castiel’s morality began to be questioned. Castiel didn’t kill Bartholomew until he was forced to do so in self defense. Even in season 6 his morality was generally still intact, but he made massively dubious decisions that had even the most diehard Castiel fan beginning to question his decision making.
The episode ended with Castiel gaining loyal followers much like the arc during the first half of season 6. Castiel never asked to be a leader, but the lessons of free will and fighting for good that he learned from the Winchesters have given him the skills needed to lead Heaven’s wayward angels. I only hope that this season turns out better than season 6 did. He, you know, went a little too overboard with power, swallowed up all the souls in purgatory, then died just a couple episodes into season 7. Circumstances are different now, and we have a new show runner who has taken the angel story in a different direction. I worry that we could see a repeat scenario, but I’m going to try to remain positive about it all and hope for the best.
Another absolute highlight of the episode was the return of Kevin Tran. Yes, he’s still dead, but that doesn’t mean a hell of a lot on this show. It was great to have Osric Chau back on TV. Like Bobby, Kevin returned as a ghost. Unlike Bobby, it seems that he’s going to get to stick around on earth for a while. Kevin was also given the line of the night when he told the brothers to “get over” their drama. Most fans have been majorly displeased with the tension between the brothers this season. Some fans have seen it as necessary growth, but I haven’t really seen it going to the places that I feel it would need to go to be categorized as “growth.” I’ve viewed it as the same repetitive fighting that happens every season, sometimes multiple times per season. At the end of the episode they go their own separate ways in the bunker again, but I hope that Kevin’s words will resonate with them in the future.
In addition to Kevin’s return, we got confirmation that Mama Tran (or “Linda Tran,” as she is actually called) is alive. Unfortunately she had been locked up for many months and tortured, but she has a resilient spirit and had actively been trying to escape her captives. When Sam came to her rescue she contributed to their escape instead of being a passive damsel in distress. As much as she was in distress, Mama Tran wasn’t going to sit back and wait to be saved. Her scenes talking about being reunited with Kevin were incredibly heartbreaking, though. I’ve got to hand it to Lauren Tom and Jared Padalecki for breaking my heart with a few short words and awkward glances.
Overall I think this episode is headed in the right direction. It brings the main story arc back in, returns many of our favorite characters, and hints at possible progress on subjects that have been worrisome for quite a while. I have a lot of faith in Robert Berens, despite the fact that he’s one of the newest writers. I hope that the potential he has set up with this episode continues through the rest of the season.
Author: Angel Wilson
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson 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 nominee for contributing fanfic on AO3.
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