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Supernatural 8.22 "Clip Show" Review: A Blast From the Past

     This week’s episode of Supernatural, “Clip Show,” was written by Andrew Dabb and directed by Thomas J Wright. This episode continues the season’s return to the past in a big way. It brings back three characters from previous seasons, references the Carver Edlund books again, and re-casts an actor from the first season. Once more, the episode featured a number of truly spectacular special effects, and I have to acknowledge the fantastic team of Mark Meloche, Grant Lindsay, Ryan Curtis, Christopher Richardson, Trevor Chong, Steve McLeod, Kevin Genzel, Derek Rein, Werner ten Hoeve, Mladen Miholjcic, Jason Macza, Adam Williams, and John Marshall. I also want to include a special shout out to Jerry Wanek, Production Designer extraordinaire. The Bunker continues to be a work of art, and I thought the motel room at the end of the episode was one of his best.
      Overall, there were a couple of really glaring plot holes in this episode that prevented me from particularly enjoying it. I loved seeing Alaina Huffman back as Abaddon. She is both gorgeous and creepy, dripping evil. The special effects with her head in the box and her hands cut off were terrific, but her reanimating her hands and having them rescue her was amazing. I completely flashed to Thing in the old Addams Family series! That said, the entire scene was ludicrously stupid. Dean says in the Then montage that they were going to cut her into tiny steaks and bury her under cement – didn’t look like they did that. Why didn’t they take her to the Bunker and their newly found special demon dungeon? Why wasn’t she in a devil’s trap for protection even with the bullet in her brain? If she had a bullet in her brain, her vessel would be dead, so would she even survive? And why would you ever leave a demon alone? Especially a Knight of Hell! Why weren’t the hands more secure? And why did they have to use her? It would have been easier for them to simply summon a demon.
     Sam (Jared Padalecki) ends up having to defend Cas (Misha Collins) to Dean (Jensen Ackles) who is angry at him for losing the angel tablet and not trusting him. It feels like they are substituting strife between Dean and Cas for strife between the brothers. I got tired of the rift between Dean and Cas last season after Cas returned and Dean blamed him for breaking Sam’s wall and releasing the Leviathans.
    It was a nice touch to see Tommy (Graham Wardle) from “Wendigo” back, and the VFX team’s work on his exploding head was outstanding. It was also great to see one of my favorite Canadian actors, Donnelly Rhodes, back. However, it was a little jarring to see him play a different character than the one in played in “Wendigo” (the only surviving victim) when the episode is being recalled in this episode by Tommy.
    I did love Dean’s glee at having his own dungeon. The Men of Letters Bunker also demonstrates how it can be a source for the show going forward as the brothers can find lore, like the new exorcism, that has been lost since the Men of Letters died out.
    The scene in which Cas shops for all of Dean’s favorite things is hilarious. There’s a nice shout out to “The End” when Cas picks up toilet paper – the thing Chuck tells Dean is so important to stock up on. Cas has learned all the things that Dean likes from Busty Asian Beauties, to beer, and especially to pie. Cas is distraught when he learns they are out of pie, but once again, Dean doesn’t get his pie.
    Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) shows up to enlist Cas’ help in locking the angels in Heaven to force them to have a “family” meeting and settle their differences. Metatron is still focused on storytelling and analogies. He wants to ride in and save the day. He compares Heaven to a dysfunctional family – a recurring theme in the series, of course. Metatron also tells Cas that Naomi is not in charge in Heaven, but just the head of one of a number of factions all fighting for dominance, which Metatron if afraid will spill out onto Earth. He couldn’t actually find a better way to appeal to Cas than through a threat to humanity. Metatron appeals to all of Cas’ weaknesses in enlisting him to do the trials. Now that Metatron is taking an active role, I wonder whether we will see Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) again. I thought they might have given some indication of where he was. Armstrong is a terrific addition to the cast and plays extremely well against Collins. Armstrong nails both the comedic timing and the earnest, otherworldly-ness of an angel.
    It’s also difficult to determine if Metatron is really acting for the overall good or if he has a hidden agenda. The first trial is to kill a Nephillim, and Cas is appalled and doesn't want to kill her as the girl hasn’t chosen to be a Nephillim. Metatron is implacable in insisting that he must cut her heart out. Both Cas and Metatron get thrown around and beaten up pretty good. In Cas’ defense he is still hurt from what Crowley did to him, which begs a question – why is Cas taking so long to heal? In the end the Nephillim tries to kill Metatron and isn’t the pure soul she appeared to be at first. Interestingly, Cas doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects from having completed his trial.
    I loved Abbadon’s reaction to learning that Crowley (Mark Sheppard) – the salesman! – was now King of Hell. Hopefully, she will be more interested in dealing justice to Crowley than coming after Dean and Sam – which speaking of... why didn’t she come after them? They were right outside of where she was being held, so why not just kill them?
    It was great to see the Carver Edlund books yet again after they were just referenced in “Pac-Man Fever.” Crowley’s plan is suitably diabolical. Sheppard brought a darker tone to Crowley in this episode. Sheppard’s monologue over Sarah’s (Taylor Cole) death is a magnificent performance. He delivers the entire speech in tight close up. He’s sitting in a chair which means the entire speech rests on just his face and voice – both of which are up to the task. As befits the King of Hell, he’s discovered his own weakness and vows to keep all things demonic away from the brothers, and he relies on his mother’s having been a witch and wields that power to kill the people the brothers have saved.
    Sarah Blake is able to give a nice perspective to how Sam’s character has changed over the course of the seasons. She sees how much he’s changed since they saved her in the season one episode “Provenance.” Because Sam had a relationship with her, however brief, he feels her death most keenly. I really thought that having found the hex bag so quickly after she died, they might have burned it and at least tried CPR on her.
    Sam is willing to make a deal with Crowley to prevent all the people they’ve saved from being systematically killed. Dean wants to complete the trials, to “kick it in the ass” (a nice shout out to Kim Manners’ favorite direction). Dean will always be willing to sacrifice everyone to save his brother – except he seemed to have moved beyond that. In fact, while this episode demonstrates a nice character arc and development for Sam over multiple seasons, it seems that Dean has regressed. Dean has always put family first, but by the end of season five, he was willing to let Sam take on Lucifer if it meant stopping the Apocalypse. He’s stated many times that Cas is like a brother to him, and yet, here he is pushing him away again and leaving Cas to his own devices, which never seem to work out for him. Dean seems to be making all the same mistakes.
     Overall, I felt this episode was a bit disappointing. They killed off two more female characters in a long line of killing off female characters - not that the men have really fared any better. While it was sad to see the death of Jenny Klein mainly because she is named for one of the writers on the show, Sarah Blake has long been a fan favorite, who it would have been nice to see come back in a more positive way, especially as her character was not just a stock damsel-in-distress but helped in her own rescue.
    Highlights of the episode would have to be Mark Sheppard’s performance, the return of Abaddon, and the new team of Metatron and Cas. This won’t go down as one of my favorite penultimate episodes of a season. However, next week’s episode is written by Jeremy Carver, and I’m excited to see where he’s going to take us and how he’s going to tie up the season. What are you most excited for coming up in the finale? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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