Over the course of this season, I’ve made numerous comments about tone, or something just not feeling right. When I was commenting as a fan, I could just throw out statements like, “I liked this,” or “I didn’t like this,” without explaining further. One thing I’ve tried to do as a reviewer is look at why I liked or disliked something. Was it personal taste? Were there holes in the story? In many cases, it was harder to define. Often, it was that something just didn’t feel like “Supernatural.”
As I was was watching this episode, I was left with the thought that this was a seriously good episode. On the surface, it didn't seem that different from many - we had a possession storyline, more mythology focusing on the past, Dean depressed and drinking too much at a bar. There were a number of factors that contributed to that, but the primary one that struck me is that it was slowed down enough to allow for emotional impact – something common in the early days of the show, but that seems to have been lost in recent seasons, while the emphasis has been more on camp, gore, and mockery.
Let me get a couple of things out. First, I usually don’t notice director choices unless something strikes me as really good or really off. Second, I had honestly forgotten who had directed this one until I was about 10 minutes or so into the episode. I was watching the scene where Crowley sneaks up on Dean from behind, and thought the angling of approach was pretty cool. It was about that time that I was thinking there’s something a little different about this episode. And that got me thinking, who directed this anyway? And then, Oh! This was the one Misha Collins directed. I’m probably the only one in the fandom who forgot, but anyway, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and I’ll leave it at that.
This episode – through both the writing, as well as the direction (and by that, I mean the pacing, the tone, the background music) – brought back some of that emotional connection in both Dean’s and Sam’s storylines by telling very simple stories, but an emotional ones.
With Sam, the personal connection came in learning that Abaddon was removing souls to breed an army. Sam identified with the victims in that he remembered what it was like to be soulless. The practical consideration is that the army will make Abaddon nearly unstoppable. As I said earlier, it was nice to think that the Winchesters still care about mass destruction and death – something that hasn’t always been apparent.
Who is this director anyway?
If the writers decide that Cas’ time on the show is limited, TPTB should seriously offer Misha a chance to stick around a permanent director. With this episode, it became apparent that he has a lot of talent on the other side of the camera as well. And while SPN has a number of very talented directors coming and going, with this episode it was apparent that one of Misha's strengths is that he really understands the show and the characters better than many others do. Anyway, I’m clearly overstepping here, but these are my thoughts.
What did you think of the episode? Let’s hear your impressions in the comments.