A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:
Season 4 Episode 03 – “In The Beginning”
- 00:53 – The episode starts with a THEN montage that highlights the season 1 and 2 story arc with Ol’ Yellow Eyes killing Mommy Winchester, Dead Jessica and all that stuff from the pilot. We see the Colt take care of Ol’ Yellow Eyes. Interleaved with this is Castiel explaining that he’s an angel and that God has plans for Dean. I’m guessing this is going to be an arc heavy episode…
- 01:47 – In the NOW portion of the episode, Sam abandons a sleeping Dean to go for a car ride with Ruby, who asks him if he’s ready. Sam assents that he is.
- 01:53 – Dean’s getting disjointed flashbacks to what I assume is his time in Hell. I’m going to go out on a limb with a prediction here: Hell – not a very nice place to spend time.
- 02:16 – Dean is startled awake either by his nightmare visions, or possibly by Castiel getting his full Edward Cullen on and watching Dean sleep. Our angelic John Constantine cosplayer than tells Dean that Dean has to “stop it” and taps two fingers against the elder Winchester brother’s forehead. He doesn’t clarify what the “it” that needs stopping is. that’s the trouble with heavenly creatures, they’re not good with the clarity thing. Anyway,the lighting changes on Dean’s face, so he’s now sleeping somewhere else. I’m guessing it ain’t a luxury hotel.
- 03:09 -It’s not a hotel, it’s a park bench outside of a diner, and worse,it’s somewhere outside a diner with no cellphone service. I laugh slightly at Dean’s 2008-vintage flip phone, but that would make sense as a cheap burner. Once Dean vacates the bench to enter the diner we see signage for Tab, which probably implied that Dean was somewhen else when this episode aired, especially given the 70s-tastic typography, but no brand ever dies anymore.
- 05:21 – Dean enters the diner and Supernatural pays homage to the famous “Mr. Sandman” scene from Back To The Future with the more 1970’s appropriate “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band replacing the Four Ace/Chordettes tune. We very quickly establish that it’s April 1973 (and the album “Ramblin’ Man” is on didn’t drop until August ’73, but that’s a minor anachronism I can roll with. Dean’s in Lawrence, Kansas and the young man he’s talking to is in fact a 1973-era Daddy Winchester. Got to say the actor in no way resembles a young Jeffrey Dean Morgan in my eyes. Cue opening title.
- 06:15 – As Dean sort of follows baby Daddy Winchester around the corner, he runs into Castiel, drops a Back To The Future reference of his own with a snarky DeLorean comment. Castiel non-explains that angels can bend time and does the Batman-to-Jim Gordon “hi, bye” thing and disappears.
- 07:39 – Baby Daaddy Winchester is attempting to buy a pretty groovy VW Camper van (I kind of want one), but Dean, as repayment for his morning coffee upsells him on a certain Impala. Baby Daddy Winchester formally introduces himself to Dean. Dean opts for the alias Dean Van Halen since Winchester might be a little suspect here. I’m choosing to believe it’s Diamond Dave era Van Halen because Van Hagar sucks.
- 09:19 – After Dean freaks out baby Daddy Winchester by asking about cold spots, sulfur smells and cattle mutilations, baby Daddy drives to meet baby Mommy Winchester. She’s surprised at the van purchase morphing into a badass Chevy Impala.I’m amused that Dean’s (presumably hotwired)stalking vehicle of choice is a nondescript beige thing.
- 09:34 – Quoth the Dean “Sammy, wherever you are. Mom is a babe. I’m going to hell. again.” – i’m fairly sure that Dean/baby Mommy Winchester isn’t the subject of the allegedly absurd number of “Wincest” fan fictions on the internet, but I’m never gonna read them to find out. Also, why is this such a Sam free episode? Was he injured? Killed by his terrible hair? Was Padalecki filming a movie or something?
- 10:12 – The baby Winchester parents are enjoying milkshakes at the diner. Apparently baby Mommy Winchester’s father doesn’t approve of baby Daddy Winchester, who describes himself as a mechanic from a family of mechanics. She departs the table to go do something, and baby Daddy Winchster pulls out a ring. Which means that baby Momy Winchester is actually baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester.
- 10:55 – the thing that baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester has to take care of turns out to be Dean! She’s noticed his stalking, and promptly starts to beat the ever-living crap out of him. After Dean defends himself, he spots a bracelet on baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester’s wrist with sufficient protective charms (I recognized a cross, a pentagram, and something that looked like a hexagram) for him to realize that baby Mommy was a Hunter.
- 11:49 – Based on the mailbox, baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester is actually baby Mommy Campbell. Dean meets her outside her house after baby Daddy Winchester drop her off. A brief conversation establishes that baby Mommy knows Dean’s name and since they’re both hunters, as Dean says “They’re practically family.” Oh, subtext. baby Mommy doesn’t seem sure that Dean should meet her dad. Dean insists.
- 11:51 -Said Dad is played by Mitch Pileggi, who I will always see as Assistant FBI Director Walter S. Skinner of The X-Files. A show that Supernatural has heavily baked into its DNA.
- 12:23 – So Mommy Winchester’s parents were Samuel and Deanna. That would seem to suggest that they’re the inspiration for Sam and Dean’s names. Deanna’s actress is less recognizable to me than Pileggi. Since the Winchester Brothers’ names seem like a tribute to the grandparents, I’m assuming they aren’t going to live to the closing credits of this one,even with the time travel shenanigans. Samuel doesn’t trust other Hunters around his family, which heavily implies that baby Daddy Winchester isn’t yet a Hunter. Both Campbells seem to be, and Deanna invites Dean to dinner overriding Samuel’s objections.
- 14:00 – The Campbells find the idea of baby Daddy Winchester being involved with spirits to be beyond ludicrous. After a bit of back and forth banter about the nature of Hunters and jobs they’re on, It’s clear that Samuel Campbell’s kind of a prickly guy. He does open up a little about a job, to do with demonic omens on a nearby farm. Dean asks him if he found anything on “the Web” not quite understanding that Tim Berners-Lee hadn’t worked that particular magic back in ’73. He covers. Badly.
- 15:08 – Samuel Campbell is at the farm in a priest costume. baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester is forced to be a ridealong because it’s the family business. She’s not into it, but dutifully goes off to distract a teenage boy hanging out at the farm. Samuel knocks on the door to the house, where he’s greeted by the widow of the house, and Dean, who is also dressed as a priest. Which is a fantastic little visual gag.
- 15:56 – Mr. Campbell rolls with it as the senior priest. Apparently the former man of the house was fairly normal until his “guts fertilized the back forty” thanks to an unlikely combine accident.
- 17:37 – Dean goes over to where baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester is talking to the boy, Charlie. H’s the son of the dead man. It sure sounds like he was tricked into selling his soul to a demon to stop the dead man beating the widow, though Charlie doesn’t realize it. The bill comes due in ten years. After a brief bit of questioning, it turns out that this demon had pale yellow eyes. Since we know that Ol’ Yellow Eyes kills Mommy Winchester ten years from now in the pilot episode, Dean’s meaningful glance to baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester has a certain amount of resonance.
- 18:29 – Dean is freaking the hell out now that he knows Ol’ Yellow Eyes is involved. He’s in full on warpath mode to an extent that crusty Samuel seems almost frightened. He non-explains that Ol’ Yellow Eyes killed his entire family and that he’s going to kill it. Samuel asks him how he might achieve that. Dean brings up the Colt, which we (and Dean) know is in Dan Elkins’ possession at this time. The Campbell’s remain skeptical.
- 19:30 – Dean shows the Campbels Daddy Winchesters journal of everybody he thought interacted with Ol’ Yellow Eyes. Naturally, since Dean brought this with him from 2008, it features sightings from the future. Dean tries to claim that it’s because his father was clairvoyant. The Campbells think he’s crazy. He doesn’t entirely disagree.
- 23:16 – Dean has a heartfelt conversation with bay Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester, who’s pretty confident that baby Daddy Winchester is going to propose. She sees that as her ticket out of the life of a Hunter, which she hates. She tells Dean that the very worst thing she can imagine would be her children being raised in the Hunter lifestyle. The dramatic irony is thicker than a very thick thing indeed here. Dean attempts to save his other’s life by telling her not to get out of bed on November 2nd, 1983, no matter what she sees or hears. He’s close to manly tears as he does this. Baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester agrees, sayings he’ll remember. I suspect she won’t actually remember because undoing the events of the pilot would kind of wreck this show’s entire premise and it seems too early in the season to do that…
- 24:52 – As Dean’s driving to (presumably) recover the Colt, Castiel appears in the passenger seat so that they can exposition at each other. Dean asks why Castiel didn’t send Sam back as well. Castiel’s non-committal. Castiel points out that if Dean does break the family curse by disposing of Ol’ Yellow Eyes than Dean, Sam and Daddy Winchester never become Hunters, dooming all the people they’ve saved. Since last episode kind of showed that they’re not exactly batting a thousand at saving people even in the Hunter lifestyle, I kind of side with Dean here. Dean tearfully admits that he does care about the others, but these are his parents and if he can save them, he will. It’s all very emotional and only slightly undercut by the fact that Castiel’s buggered off back to whence he came already.
- 26:20 – Dean is stealing the Colt from Elkins’ safe when Elkins confronts him in the traditional Hunter manner – aiming a loaded shotgun at him. Dean manages to persuade Elkins not to kill him by Deansplaining that he’s a Hunter and needs the Colt to save his family. Dean’s basically surrendering, assuming that Elkins can’t go through with killing a normal human. It’s a solid assumption. Now, time to get back to Kansas and nobody clicks their ruby heels together three times to do it. Instead they use the more prosaic option of driving.
- 27:29 – Baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester realizes that the demon interaction where Dean’s going to attempt to kill Ol’ Yellow Eyes happens tobe where a friend of hers lives. She wants to aid Dean on this job, thoroughly confusing Sammuel Campbell, who wishes his daughter would make her ind up bout whether she wants to hunt or not. We cut over to said friend, Liddy, who is finding out that her father is dying of cancer. The doctor offers a cure in exchange for taking something ten years from now. We can pretty safely conclude that this doctor is Ol’ Yellow Eyes’ current meat suit. Especially since we get the eyes flashing yellow to confirm this as I type this sentence.
- 27:38 – This negotiation is interrupted by Samuel Campbell bursting in with a shotgun and shooting Ol’ Yellow Eyes in the chest. As you would expect, it has pretty much no effect, and Ol’ Yellow Eyes immediately disarms Samuel.
- 27:57- While Ol’ Yellow Eyes is taunting Samuel, baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester gets the drop on him briefly and slices Ol’ Yellow eyes with a knife.It has negligible effect. Ol’ Yellow Eyes reacts with interest “Where the Hell have they been hiding you?” And given the nature of the show I’m unsure if the hell reference is literal or metaphorical.
- 28:32 – As Ol’ Yellow Eyes grabs bay Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester by the throat, Dean bursts in, cocks the Colt and aims it at his demonic nemesis, who reacts with nervous curiosity and then immediately takes a black smoke departure from his meat suit, rather ruining Dean’s “shoot the bastard” plan.
- 29:15 – Baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester is freaking out about Ol’ Yellow Eyes expressing a like for her and goes to hide in the vehicle. Samuel takes the opportunity to compliment Dean on a job well done. Dean disagrees since he missed his shot. Samuel i annoyed that Dean appears to reject his olive branch. Dean tells him that they need to talk without baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester being around.
- 30:26 – Despite knowing that it sounds “massively, massively crazy,” Dean tells the truth to Samuel, about who he is, what his relationship is to baby Mommy-Not-Yet-Winchester and how Mommy Winchester dies at the hands of Ol’ Yellow Eyes in 1983. Samuel pretty much agrees with the massive crazy part. He doesn’t seem as certain about the rest of it, but he definitely wants to protect his daughter. Dean mentions that tonight put Ol’ Yellow Eyes on baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester’s scent. This makes me wonder if Dean was the one that caused the events if the pilot to happen. Got to love those stable time travel paradoxes, right?
- 30:48 -Meanwhile, baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester is trying to use baby Daddy Winchester and that sweet Impala to Brave Sir Robin her way out of Ol’ Yellow Eyes’ sights.
- 31:34 – Samuel admits that he might be crazier than Dean for actually believing his story. He agrees to help Dean kill Ol’ Yellow Eyes. He asks where and how. Dean says they can use Daddy Winchester’s journal to figure out the ‘where’, and the Colt is the ‘how’. Samuel asks to see the Colt, but Dean refuses, moving it further away.
- 31:58 – Which turns out to be a good instinct, since Samuel has been possessed by Ol’ Yellow Eyes. He waves his hand and traps Dean against the wall. Since Dean has now outlined future events to Ol’ Yellow Eyes, my speculation at 30:26 that Dean caused the events of the pilot seem even more confirmed. I feel like that’s going to lead to some patented Manly Winchester Angst down the line. Not a stretch because just about everything does in this show.
- 33:28 – Ol’ Yellow Eyes realizes that the only thing powerful enough to send Dean back in time must be Angels. He also figures out that Dean’s presence here means that Ol’ Yellow Eyes’ plan for making psychic children works. Though he seems disappointed that Dean isn’t one of them. He figures there must be a sibling (with terrible hair) that is. Dean realizes that Ol’ Yellow Eyes isn’t bargaining for souls but for the children of his targets. Dean asks what’s so special about this parents-to-be. Ol’ Yellow Eyes gives him some blather about them being his own master race.
- 35:00 – More demonsplaining from Ol’ Yellow Eyes. apparently he’s making the deals because he needs permission to enter the dwellings and bleed into the children’s mouths (I thought that was more of a vampire thing?). Dean tries toget Ol’ Yellow Eyes to reveal the true extent of his plan, because apparently it was more than just the demonic army we saw in the season 2 finale. Ol’ Yellow Eyes declines to give Dean and therefore the Heavenly Host that information. Dean doesn’t care because he knows that Ol’ Yellow Eyes will die by Dean’s hand either now,or in the future. Ol’ Yellow Eyes just laughs at this. I’ll note that Deanna Campbell has been eavesdropping on at least some of this conversation.
- 35:47 – Ol’ Yellow Eyes gloats at Dean that Dean won’t be able to save everybody, with his first failure being Samuel. Ol’ Yellow Eyes produces a knife and stabs his Samuel meat suit pretty deep in what looks like the kidney area. Samuel’s going to bleed out when Ol’ Yellow Eyes is done bodyjacking, y’all. Deanna screams as she sees this and goes crawling for the Colt. Unfortunately, her scream alerted Ol’ Yellow Eyes to her presence and he promptly snaps her neck, killing off a second of Dean’s grandparents in under a minute. This breaks Ol’ Yellow Eyes hold on Dean. Dean grabs the Colt, discovers dead Deanna and no sign of Ol’ Yellow Eyes. This means that Ol’ Yellow Eyes is probably going to take on baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester next. Dean rushes out.
- 36:28 – Baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester is with baby Daddy Winchester in the Impala, which is parked by the river. Baby Daddy Winchester is proposing to baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester when they’re interrupted by Ol’ Yellow Eyes, still riding Samuel’s body.He promptly attempts to drag baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester out of the car.
- 36:39 – Baby Daddy Winchester attempts to defend his girlfriend from her angry father. Ol’ Yellow Eyes responds by snapping baby Daddy Winchester’s neck and killing him. I gotta admit, I didn’t see that coming, though I’m unsure exactly why that blindsided me.
- 37:24 – Ol’ Yellow Eyes reveals himself to baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester and confirms that he’s killed both of her parents in addition to her boyfriend. Baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester swears to return the favor by killing Ol’ Yellow Eyes. The demon tells her not be too hasty. I sense a deal is in the offing…
- 38:30 – Yep. Ol’ Yellow Eyes offers to bring baby Daddy Winchester back to life if baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester gives Ol’ Yellow Eyes permission to enter the house in ten years. He claims that it’s fora minor thing, but as long as he’s not interrupted, nobody gets hurt. Since we know he does get interrupted and Mommy Winchester gets killed, I’m glad baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester seems reluctant.
- 39:06 – I’m considerably less glad that baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester still takes the deal. And I’m majorly squicked out that the deal is sealed with a full on make out kiss between baby Mommy Not-Yet-Winchester and Ol’ Yellow eyes, who’s still wearing her father’s body.
- 39:27 -Dean’s arrival on the scene, Colt in hand screaming “No!” kind of speaks for me here. It also prompts Ol’ Yellow Eyes to smoke out of Samuel’s dead body and run (float?) away.
- 40:12 – Baby Daddy Winchester resurrects. Castiel grips Dean’s shoulder and they both disappear. Both baby Winchester parents seem freaked out over Samuel’s dead body, especially baby Daddy Winchester.
- 41:52 – Dean awakens back in the hotel room, somewhat distraught that he couldn’t stop Mommy Winchester from making the deal and dying in the nursery. Castiel reveals that that was always going to be impossible and that the purpose of the trip was for Dean to gather the same knowledge the Angels have. Dean wants to know where Sam is. Castiel tells him. He also tells Dean that Sam is going down a dangerous path and unless Dean stops him, the Angels will.
- 41:54 – To be continued…
Well, that was a very unexpected episode. I have to say that I didn’t see the whole time travel plot coming. It did feel that the entire purpose of this one was to make Dean, who already has something of a death wish feel even worse about himself and his role in the various tragedies to befall the Winchester family. I did enjoy the reversal of it being Mommy Winchester who was the Hunter in the family, and Daddy Winchester having no idea about that life style. I’m a sucker for episodes that primary engage in the mythos and metaplot of the show’s season, and this one certainly did that. It used the “show don’t tell” mantra and time travel to fill in a lot of the gaps in the backstory of how we got to the pilot, and even established Ol’ Yellow Eyes as still being a threat, even posthumously. Not sure what this means for Lilith and the Devil though. Does the show not have enough confidence in them as villains that they needed to re-establish Azazel?
I’m not sure if the Angels not knowing what Ol’ Yellow Eyes had in mind for his plan is deliberate, or if the writers haven’t figured out what that endgame is and are just flying by the seat of their pants a little. I’m guessing the latter,because as I touched on above, this show is heavily influenced by The X-Files, and that show clearly never had an end game in mind for its recurring arcs and villainy.
I think the casting of the past characters was great, and Pileggi was clearly having a ball playing Ol’ Yellow Eyes. It did feel like young John Winchester and Deanna Campbell were a little underserved by the story, but the focus on Mary and Samuel did make sense here given what they were going for. It’s a pity they killed off Deanna so soon, because it doesn’t feel like she had a character. That’s not an issue for Daddy Winchester who’s had plenty of episodes to establish himself.
The absence of Sam from the story makes me wonder if there are other episodes where basically only one of the brothers appear. It feels a little off without the typical banter/argumentation/angst/tears between the Brothers Winchester being present. It felt odd that this episode ended with a “To be continued…” tag because it didn’t feel more or less serialized than most other episodes. Especially as the title “Metamorphosis” and the Netflix capsule description don’t make it sound like a continuation of this one. I guess we’ll just have to see. I’m hoping that we get a more defined goal for Castiel and the Angels at some point this season since it all feels very nebulous. I guess that’s why there’s still twenty more episodes to come…