Before we go into the thoughts and commentary on Supernatural 5.02 Good God Ya’ll, let’s take a moment to see what fandom was up to and what the CW Network has to celebrate about.
Now in its fifth season, supernatural continues to build, improving over its year ago performance by +18% in adults 18-34 (1.3/4), 55% in women 18-34 (1.7/5), +17% in women 18-49 (1.4/4). In its Thursday night 9:00PM timeslot, the veteran action series held 100% of its women 18-34 (1.7/5) premiere audience, matching the show’s best performance in that demo since January 2009. In adults 18-34, SUPERNATURAL held 93% of its 9/10/09 season 5 premiere audience. Together with its new lead in show The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural helped deliver the network’s second best Thursday ever with women 18-34 (2.2/7), behind only last week, according to Live Plus Same Day Nielsen ratings for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009. The combination of these two series have improved The CW’s Thursday performance versus a year ago by 47% in women 18-34 (2.2/7) and 6% in women 18-49 (1.8/5).
Over on Twitter, Supernatural actor Misha Collins and his minions mounted an offensive against last week’s run in with Rapper P. Diddy. As you recall in last week’s reporting here at EM, P. Diddy mistook the #luciferiscoming tag as some sort of satanic uprising and had the execs at Twitter ban the hashtag from the trending topic where it had made it all the way to the #1 spot. Needless to say a majority of vocal Supernatural fans and actor Misha Collins were not amused at this and in promotion for 5.02 they launched the #pdiddiyisscaredofhistv hashtag campaign. Shortly after the launch of the campaign on Thursday September 17th, Misha Collins posted the following on his twitter:
Is any of this Twitterverse campaigning having an affect on increasing the popularity of Supernatural and bringing attention to the series in a positive way or is it, as some fans are beginning to voice, something that is only making the fandom look a bit like unreasonable radicals? Would love to know what EM readers have to say about this. Meanwhile here is what I have to say about Supernatural S5.02 Good God Ya’ll.
Last week in the S5.01 episode Sympathy for the Devil (written by Eric Kripke and directed by Phil Sgriccia), we were left with watching Dean confronting Sam over not trusting him anymore. That scene created quite a controversy in fandom and a widening of the split between the fans of Sam Winchester (Jared “no he doesn’t have a Twitter/Facebook/Myspace” Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen “no he doesn’t have a Twitter/Facebook/Myspace” Ackles) as many fans of the younger Winchester felt that all the blame was unreasonably being laid on him. But as S5.02 Good God Ya’ll opens we find that there is a lot more to worry about than who is to blame for starting the apocalypse.
Like why they teased us with this picture and we never got that kind of bare arm porn in the actual episode!
Ok back to more serious concerns, like what happened to Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver). In Sympathy for the Devil, Bobby was somehow possessed by a demon, which you would think he of all people would have either been wearing the same kind of anti-possession charm he gave to Sam and Dean or else he would have a tattoo the same as they do. I think Mr. Kripke got some splaining to do on this one. In order to save Dean from being killed by the demon in possession of Bobby, the wily old hunter was able to gain enough control to stab himself with the demon-killing knife instead. Bobby lived, demon died. Bobby became… paralyzed? From a stab wound to the abdomen or was this the doing of Zachariah (Kurt Fuller) the rogue angel in punishment for Dean refusing to be the ‘angel condom’ for Michael so he can battle Lucifer? More splaining needed I think.
So now we have a sullen, paralyzed Bobby Singer and onto the scene burst Castiel (Misha Collins, leader of the great fandom twitterverse rally) and he has been cut off from much of his heavenly power source including the ability to ‘get to healing’ on Bobby Singer. Speaking of Kripke and his team of writers doing some explaining, this episode offers the long awaited answer to the much asked (and theorized over) question of does the amulet that Dean Winchester wears, and was given to him by Sam when they were both on the Wee’chester side of life, have any significant meaning. Does it do anything besides give admiring viewers/fans a good reason to stare at Dean Winchester’s chest? Apparently it does and Sera Gamble tells it like it is in this well written script.
According to Castiel the amulet will help him find God because it will burn hot in his presence. Castiel feels it’s important to find God because he is the only one who is stronger than even the angel Michael is and can defeat Lucifer as well. Naturally, Dean Winchester is highly skeptical of this whole ‘let’s find God and bring him in on it’ plan. Dean doesn’t trust God to be a team player and this leads to a very heated discussion between Dean and Castiel where fans get a chance to see someone blames Dean as much as they blame Sam for what has happened and isn’t afraid to say it. While I think this was a well needed aspect and I personally think Dean feels he is to blame as well, I was left wondering where the spark of screen presence and dynamic working chemistry between Ackles and Collins that was so white hot last season had gone to. For this viewer, it just wasn’t there like before. In it’s place there seems to be a wall keeping the two actors from having the kind of “give and take” free flow they had before. Maybe its just part of how they or director Phil Sgriccia are choosing to play the characters opposite each other this season.
So Castiel goes off to find God with Dean’s reluctantly given amulet leaving a naked feeling Dean and Sam to take a distress call from the reclusive hunter Rufus Tanner (Steven Williams) who is stuck in a Colorado town surrounded by demons. When the Winchester brothers get there, they find not only Rufus entrenched in the fray, but also have a reunion with the mother/daughter hunting team of Ellen (Samantha Ferris) and Jo (Alona Tal) Harvelle.
I’ll say it right now, I missed Ellen Harvelle like crazy and I will proudly admit that I think of all the female characters ever introduced on Supernatural, the only one that I think is the perfect match for Dean Winchester is Ellen Harvelle. Ackles and Ferris have the kind of synergy working together that allows the concept of sexuality and connection to flow freely between their characters. Ellen Harvelle sees and accepts Dean for who he is, she knows the world he lives in and she is strong within it. He doesn’t have to put on his “game face” for her.
Kudos to Sera Gamble in not trying to force Jo Harvelle to be something she’s not this time around. This time they let her flow naturally as a character within the story and showed us how much she has matured and strengthened. Alona Tal was allowed to show us the kind of depth and range she can bring to a character when that character is allowed to flow freely within the storyline. I can’t wait for them to bring Jo back again. I really liked her as the character she has become and the mother/daughter hunter dynamic she has with Ellen is a nice balance to the masculine side of the profession. Hopefully the writers will continue to allow the character to interact in the same natural flow and not force Jo into the obligatory ‘romance of the week’ category.
Rufus is an interesting and well fleshed out addition to the Winchester’s world. Steven Williams has a strong screen presence that takes this kind of rough edged character created by the writers and brings it to life. Rufus is real people. You know guys like him and you can connect to that sense of reality. The dynamic between Rufus and Dean continues to be a mix of respect and competitiveness that often happens between two personalities that are as much alike as these two are.
The guest casting in this episode was some of the best I have seen in a long time. Not only did we get excellent actors in the roles of returning characters such as Rufus, Ellen and Jo, but we got some amazing talent in the casting of Titus Welliver as Roger/War and Shawn Roberts (Diary of the Dead) as the young guy with all the soldier training. I want to see this character return with a name, and to find that he has become a kick ass hunter. Welliver’s War was everything you want a demon to be: smarmy, self centered, smug and cunning. He played it all with the essence of every slick con man in history and drove a cherry red Mustang, because hey he is a horseman!
At the heart of Good God, Ya’ll of course is the angst between Sam and Dean. The idea of them cut off from the outside world, caught in a situation where they had to figure out that what was really going on wasn’t what you saw on the surface was to me pure allegory for the situation between the brothers. On the surface they still look like Sam and Dean: two brothers hunting together, saving people together. But under the surface they are falling apart. The whole thing about them having to stop taking the situation at face value and rushing headlong into it as usual was never more apparent than when Dean had to stop himself from running out the door to rescue Sam. For the first time in along time, Dean was putting aside everything John Winchester had engrained in him about “taking care of his brother” and put the job first. Also never more apparent that Sam isn’t “business as usual” than when Sam finally comes to the end of his patience with Dean over the constant reminders of the demon blood addiction and pushes back at Dean in anger. Or when we see Sam staring at what he thinks is a demon blood covered knife and fighting with the temptations he realizes are still very much inside of him or .
Watching Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki take on the kind heart/soul wrenching scenes like these or like the last one between Sam and Dean and giving life to them is like watching magic happen. As I said before, and especially working with each other, they rarely every hold back just because they are on some genre show on a little network. They treat the characters and the storylines with respect and it shows.
Many, many Kudos to Sera Gamble for how well written this final scene between Sam and Dean is. Many, many kudos to director Phil Sgriccia for his work in this episode as well. His use of the cameras, the lighting and positioning of the characters to set the mood was a work of art. Having Sam and Dean sitting at a bare wooden picnic table, Dean with his back to canyon and Sam with back to the road gave the viewers an overall sense of where each character was in that moment. Dean was facing an emptiness he had to learn to deal with and Sam was facing a longer journey down the road to understanding who and where he is in life.
In my review of Sympathy for the Devil I wrote that more than Sam and Dean Winchester being brothers they were two men who had each other’s backs, one could totally rely on the other. That they had a “brotherhood” that was more than just blood deep but forged in battle and necessity of reliance. I wrote that I felt that when Dean says, “we can’t go back to being what we were”; he doesn’t mean being brothers because that didn’t change. He meant being friends and being partners in which to have complete and total trust in. In Good God, Ya’ll we see Sam coming to that same realization. That not only can’t Dean trust him to be a hunting partner right now and to get the job done, that Sam can’t trust himself to do it either. Watching the hurt and realization of this revelation crossing both their faces and watching them realize they had to separate for their own good was heartbreaking. Gamble wrote it, Ackles and Padalecki played it out on screen and it was perfection. Man I love this show!!!
So next week’s episode, written by Jeremy Carver, is called Free to be You and Me. Sam gives up hunting to sort things out in his head but someone has other plans for him. Dean teams up with Castiel to find the angel Raphael who might know where God is hiding out at or who he might be hiding out in. The episode airs on the CW Network Thursday September 24th at 9PM EST right after a new episode of The Vampire Diaries. While we wait for that new episode and wait for some splaining from Kripke and company I leave you EM readers with a little something to ponder.
Why is this man (actor Ed Welch) listed in the episode credits as “Dean look alike”? And does he really look like Dean to you? Let us know!