Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

SPN 9.14: Captives review

Sam and Dean observe haunting

 Supernatural returned Tuesday with “Captives,” the second outing by Robert Barens who also wrote “Heaven Can’t Wait” [9.06]. Like his first episode, “Captives” is one of those dual storyline episodes that the Carver Administration is so fond of. I understand the strategy of this method is a way to show Castiel’s separate storyline without cutting the Winchesters out of the episode, but I think due to the divided focus, the individual storylines lose some emotional impact. Episodes employing this strategy tend to have a more frenetic feel as well. The pace of the separate storylines has to be increased as well to get through them both within the 42 minute format, so they aren’t explored as well as a single storyline format.

Be that as it may, Castiel’s story in “Captives” moved forward once again after he was abducted from a graveside service by followers of Bartholomew. Remember Bart? If not, there’s no real reason to. He was introduced in “I’m No Angel” [9.03] as though he was going to be a major player, but alas not. Instead he was a kind of Metatron to Castiel’s Gadreel, but unlike Gadreel when challenged to prove his willingness to be a part of the team by killing another angel, Castiel followed his conscience and declined. I think it’s an important parallel showing us that while Castiel has learned from past mistakes, Gadreel has not. If only Gadreel had killed Metatron instead of Kevin, imagine where the story could have gone.

Castiel kills Bartholomew

Castiel, instead, gave Bartholomew every opportunity to allow him to walk away but came to realize that Bartholomew’s plan all along was to kill him if he didn’t join Bartholomew’s faction. In a skirmish, Castiel killed Bartholomew and left only to be followed by some of Bartholomew’s followers who want to give their allegiance to Castiel. He denies being a leader, but Bartholomew’s former henchman swore that Castiel is. Going forward, it looks as though Cas has at least three other angels now working under his command. It remains to be seen how many of Bartholomew’s remaining followers will go with him or move to Malachi’s faction.

In a completely separate storyline, Dean and Sam learned that Kevin was haunting the bunker, and he had no patience for Dean’s self-pity. He had a new perspective and a job for the Winchesters – to find his mom who he’d heard through the ghostly grapevine was still alive. The boys learned from Candy, the ghost of a politician’s mistress, that she, Linda Tran, and a man had been held captive in a storage facility. The boys go in search of the location and end up at Castle Storage – I guess it’s a chain, right? – they find a group of three storage units off on their own that might be where Crowley stashed Linda Tran.

Despite learning from Candy that Crowley was working with someone, the Winchesters don’t appear to suspect that the storage facility workers might be demons. Now, if there’s one thing I can’t forgive writers for, it’s making the boys appear stupid, out of character, or like rookies. Berens pretty much covers the spectrum here. Not only did they not test the workers to see if they are demons, but they split up with Dean going off to search a storage unit that Del “tha funkee homosapien” suggested might be what they are looking for. While there, Dean turned his back on the guy and got knocked out and tied up for his rookie mistake – at least it wasn’t Sam this week. Not only does that kind of behavior make me wonder how they’ve managed to stay alive all these years, I wonder how they find their way out of the bunker. Maybe all those knocks on the head over the years have caused brain damage.

Linda Tran affects their escape

Meanwhile, Sam found the storage unit that Linda Tran was being held in. Was I the only one who knew that the door was going to close behind him and trap them both inside? Yeah, no, but Sam seemed shocked. Getting Linda free of her shackles, he pried open the electric panel for the door opener and said, “This could take awhile.” Linda grabbed the tool from him in exasperation and started working on getting them out. She explained that she’d helped Kevin with his electrical science projects. Now, being a new writer on Supernatural, maybe Berens never saw season eight (not that that is an excuse), but someone on the show should have pointed out that Sam worked as a handyman while Dean was in purgatory, and he’d been fixing electrical things like air conditioners. United States electrical code colors shouldn’t have been news to him, and he shouldn’t have had any problem with something like that door opener. Hasn’t Sam hotwired a car more than once?

Dean gets knocked out and tied up

Back in the other storage unit, Dean was tied up listening to Del complain that Crowley was using him as an intern. He never even got to kill anyone. Wahwahwah. Dean revealed that Crowley probably wouldn’t be pleased when he found out that Del had captured the Winchesters since he and Crowley had been pretty tight lately. In response, Del angrily took off his name tag and threatened to cut Dean’s throat. Fortunately, Sam showed up and subdued the whiny demon. The boys handed over the demon blade for Linda to take out her revenge against the demon who’d imprisoned her for a year.

Back at the bunker, Linda and Kevin were reunited. Finding a ring that had belonged to her husband and was the object that was tied to Kevin, she intended to take it and Kevin home with her. Dean told her that it might not be a good idea because the longer a spirit is in the veil “well, it just doesn’t turn out well.” Linda responded that she was Kevin’s mother and she was going to keep him safe as long as possible. Dean’s expression indicated that he was all too familiar with the sentiment. Kevin later told the boys that he was never letting his mom out of his sight. “She’s my responsibility,” he said. These statements by mother and son will clearly be reflected on later when the boys are by themselves thinking about their own situation.

Kevin tells Sam and Dean to quit fighting

Get over it

As Linda and Kevin prepared to leave, Sam tried to apologize to Kevin, but Kevin was having none of it: “Sam, I know that wasn’t you. Go put a blade in that asshat who possessed you, and we’ll call it square.” Sam looked troubled but agreed. Kevin wasn’t finished, however. He made the boys promise to “get over it.” They looked a little nonplussed, and he continued, “Dudes, just because you couldn’t see me, doesn’t mean I couldn’t see you. The drama, the fighting, it’s stupid. My mom’s taking home a ghost. You two, you’re both still here.”

Despite what some fans might have expected, their promises didn’t lead to a brotherly hug or even conversation. Instead, Sam simply walked away and went to his room. While Dean appeared somewhat disappointed, he wasn’t surprised and went to his own room where he continued listening to Billy Squier’s “Lonely Is the Night” just as he’d been at the beginning of the episode.

Sam walks away

I’m not outraged by Sam’s behavior as some are. I think that Sam fully intends to keep his promise, but he knows that to stop fighting, he and Dean have to fix whatever is broken in their relationship. He’s known that for awhile, ever since their conversation at the end of “Sharp Teeth” at least, but he’s kind of left the ball in Dean’s court to fix it because Dean is the one he’s felt has a broken operating system, so to speak. By making the promise to Kevin, Sam has taken some of the responsibility for figuring out a strategy for fixing the problem between them. Sam is the thinker after all. Dean is the doer. It’s time that they have a real conversation and begin to work together to change their relationship in order to prevent the fighting otherwise they will just end up right where they’ve found themselves time and again.

Everyone around them – Jody, Garth, Kevin – has seen the strength of the relationship and voiced how important it should be to them, but it’s up to them to heal the wounds and eliminate the weaknesses. We can only hope that they both begin to exhibit the maturity that showrunner Jeremy Carver has been harping about since he came on board. It’s been a long road, and I personally would like to think that they are nearing a destination where they are the formidable team that can take on heaven and hell and whatever else fate throws at them.


2 responses

  1. Pops

    I love your reviews. You actually “get it”. Unlike so many fans I see online who just pile hate one character because the boys have had a fight.
    This episode had a much better feel to it, apart from the obvious rookie errors the boys made.. like you said. It was good to see some demons again, I’ve become a little sick of angels.

    March 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    • Thanks. I love both boys. They each have strengths and weaknesses, and their bond is like a third character. You know, like Jared I think said, there’s Sam and there’s Dean and there’s SamandDean.

      Yeah, it’s like they can’t hit on an angel antagonist that fans embrace, so they keep introducing new ones. The angel war just drags on and on and on.

      March 4, 2014 at 6:35 am

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