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Supernatural - 6.03 - The Third Man - Recap

The third episode of the season: this is traditionally around the time when the initial hook storylines and the follow-up of finale themes make way for the new themes, and where the main arc of the season is introduced. This sounds about right, doesn’t it? “The Third Man” (aside from having an awkward repeat word, "man", in the title, which is reminiscent of the ever confusing consecutive Alias episode titles "Double Agent" and "A Free Agent") reintroduced, well, the third man in the SPN fandom and set up some major players for the meat-and-potatoes chunk of the season, giving us a pretty decent idea of what’s to come…

Also, if you like this review you’ll want to check out Patchwork!, an arts and entertainment blog where you’ll find these reviews along with more thoughts and news about TV shows, movies, books and more! I hope you like it and will refer your friends, it’d really mean a lot to me. :)

Reintroducing the Arch Angel storyline, and more importantly, Castiel!

After the as usual very anvil-ful “previously on,” we take a peek into the police men's locker room… for a nasty surprise. Someone's bleeding... and his skin starts peeling off, ew! He turns into a splatter, which is just nasty. I’m thinking great, it’s one of those episodes.

Dean sleeps in his car, and dreams about Lisa - and isn't that nice, he's away from her but still faithful in his mind.

I’m also glad that they don’t completely gloss over how re-adapting to life on the road isn't going to happen over night. I guess Dean got too comfortable in his suburban bed, and sleeping in a car can’t be pleasant. I’m glad they’re showing hints of that.

"Who died and made you boss?"

Of course we have to keep the shirtless ratio even, so cue some gratuitous shots of Sam working out (thank you, whoever made that happen. Look at those abs). Notice the blankness still in his gaze; I'm telling you there's something missing.

As we soon learn, Sam's shacked up with a girl... of um, negotiable affections. He's actually living much like Dean used to - in fact, season 6 has reversed a lot of what we were originally introduced to in season 1: instead of it being Dean coming to take Sam away from his committed girlfriend to go out on the road with him in the Pilot, in 6x01 it was Sam trying to pull Dean away from Lisa. And now we've got a semi-domesticated Dean struggling to keep up with routined hunter and untamed bad boy Sam. With abs. Did I mention the abs?

Meanwhile, another officer is waiting for bloody slaughter speeding cars, and is attacked by... boils? This is going to be gross isn't it? …Yup, he looks like a mushroom. It’s gross, but nothing we haven’t seen before… Supernatural really juxtaposes its attractive stars with disgusting special effects like no show I’ve ever watched before, it’s very impressive.

Another cute little moment: even if he’s not physically with Ben and Lisa, Dean can still discipline his son over the phone (I am pretty much convinced at this point that Ben is a Winchester), which is nice. This might not be the Dean we know and love but I think it's a nice development for his character. Sam, however, is skeptical, as I’m sure are a lot of Dean fans. I am going to keep an open mind though, because while I do think there are few things more awesome than season 1-Dean, it’s important that characters don’t stagnate or run in circles. I think Sam is in danger of the latter; this is about the fourth or fifth time in the show he’s been in a “dark place” for mysterious reasons, and each time he comes out supposedly stronger on the other side… only to fall right back into the pit, pun intended. Dean, on the other hand, has taken a massive step from the character we met in season 1, but he hasn’t actually changed – he’s still the same old Dean, only with some issues worked out and some soul searching and hell experiences under his belt. And while he’s “reverting” back to the road life, it’s with some improvements straight out of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. You could say that in some ways this marks Dean’s “restoration of normalcy” which normally comes at the end of the story, where the Hero has faced his challenges in the new world and now has returned to his old world and restored the balance, but with noticeable changes/improvements, i.e. he’s back on the road with Sam ala season 1 but this time he’s got a steady girlfriend and a child waiting for him, and he’s become more conscientious and responsible, and more level headed too.

“A more profound bond” indeed.

It's good to see Sam and Dean suit up again and check out a gross bubblewrap corpse. Still driving separate cars though - clearly neither is ready to relinquish control and drive shotgun. They even make this obvious in the dialogue ("Were you racing me?") and it's not hard to figure out that there'll be some kind of cockerel fight somewhere down the line. Sam and Dean are probably equals now in a way they've never been before, and the dynamics are truly different now. They've moved leaps and bounds from big brother-little brother, but it’s a tense relationship. Much like season 4, really, but somehow more cautious. They’ve learned from their mistakes, and I think they truly realise that the good fight is bigger than them.

The officer they go to see isn't quite...right... luckily Sam can just kick down the door… because he has abs and stuff. The guy goes all Final Destination, and blames God (hey there's that guy again!) for the officers' deaths. He dies right in front of them - and bugs crawl out of his scalp. Blood, boils and locusts. I guess we’re back to the religious themes.

Don’t get me wrong, the incorporation of religion into the narrative is very postmodern and I enjoy it, but last year I thought they went a little overboard. I was hoping for a change of pace this year, with the whole angel thing taking a bit of a backseat… but I’m going to reserve judgment because a lot of what happened in this episode was actually really, really good.

So the first thing Sam did when he came back to earth was to contact Castiel, but he didn't answer. Dean tries to "pray" to him…and there he is! Apparently he answers to Dean. And how great was it to see Castiel again?? I love this character, and I’m so glad he’s back. The brothers have great interaction, but the three of them in the same scene is really a pleasure to watch. Sam’s "Hello!" impersonations were hilarious. Another gem was of course, "I think we can rule Moses out as a suspect." :D

“So what, you like him better or something?”
“Dean and I do share a more profound bond. I wasn't gonna mention it.”

Lol. I liked that. And it’s true, really – Dean shares a closer bond both with Castiel and Bobby, because he’s had to seek other companionship all the times when Sam went all dark side.

An important thing to note here is that Heaven doesn't know how Sam got out of Hell, and no one's seen God, and it's all a big holy mystery. Heaven has in fact been in complete chaos since the world ended, and now the angels' nukes are loose. Haha, that's a comforting thought. So much for stopping the apocalypse, because (as has been the case throughout history in general) after a big fall, a messy civil war follows. Too bad the world is the one getting caught in the crossfire.

And the most convenient name award goes to…

We've now got the dream team reunited! Sam, Dean and Castiel, all fighting the good fight. I'm such a sucker for the sentimental.

They go to see the father of the kid who the dead cops killed, but it turns out it’s the little brother who has been behind the mysterious deaths with a sawed off staff of Moses. And his name is... Aaron. How CONVENIENT. This is like if I was writing a book about a girl who could control the winds and I called her Skye. Or something.

An angel gave... sigh... Aaron the staff, in exchange for his soul. That ain't sounding like no angel to me... apparently the rules are changing. Castiel kidnaps the boy, and Castiel and Sam are all for hurting him to extract the information, but Dean's morals are against it. Good thing someone's remembering to look out for the little people! It’s all getting lost in the “bigger picture”! The poor boy is tortured, but Cas got the information: Balthasar is behind it. Aww. I played him once in a nativity play!

Thanks Cas, guess that solves the shotgun problem!

Another angel comes to kill Cas, conveniently telling us that Raphael sent him before Castiel takes him bungee-jumping and he skips dimensions. And in the process, they destroy Sam's car. Thanks Castiel, for righting the world! No car can compete with the Impala!

So here’s the 14-word lowdown of what is looking like one of the season’s main conflicts: Raphael wants to rule heaven, and if he wins he'll bring about another apocalypse. Cause he's a traditionalist. Of course.

(Also note that when he needs human blood, Castiel takes Dean's, while Sam is conveniently in the background. The mystery as to what exactly is up with Sam is still wide open.)

A little less blah, a little more blah. I really need to freshen up on my pop culture references.

There's a frog, watching Castiel. Wasn't there something about a plague of frogs? Eh. Also, a jazz lounge... and a spiffing looking Balthasar. I don’t remember the name of this actor but I’ve seen him in other stuff and I like him! He thanks Castiel for what he's done - "it's a new era. No rules, no destiny, just utter and complete freedom." And that’s interesting. Because what’s the price of freedom, really? Chaos, isn’t it? There’s this children’s book I used to read in which there is a song I always refer to in moral dilemmas: “You must not hurt anybody else or put your life at risk, but aside from that you can do as you wish.” It’s the perfect rule to live by! Problem is that the angels probably haven’t read this story, and so they kind of ignore the whole hurting people part. Really the world’s moved from the ashes into the flames here, because ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s the apocalypse that destroys it, or if it’s angels fighting for power. Of course Castiel seems to have the right idea about freedom in moderation, but is dictatorship ever okay even if we like the one making the decisions? Ohhh this opens up some big questions about whether we want God to come back and take control, let’s not go there until the show does.

"You proved to me we could do anything so I'm trying everything." There we go again, freedom = chaos. I see Balthasar’s logic, but of course from the humans’ perspective he’s not a good guy. He’s one of those morally grey area characters, and I hope we’ll see more of him. A different sort of angel from Castiel, who is such a stickler for rules and propriety, this one is more like Gabriel, embracing human vices. But Castiel doesn’t have time for that nonsense. He is a visionary - he believes he can stop the fighting. But Balthasar sees it differently, he knows that fighting will never end.

Raphael appears, and Balthasar skedaddles, leaving Cas to face the angels... but Sam and Dean have got his back!

Power to the hairless apes!

Although Sam and Dean do their best, Raphael's got the better of Castiel, and he's clearly beating him... but Balthasar saves him! He uses a crystal, and Raphael turns to ice sand salt (thanks Elpida for clearing that up).

Dean captures Balthasar, and he releases Aaron's soul. Souls hold power, apparently. Interesting – remember that Bobby’s soul is still held by Crowley… hmmm.

Castiel releases Balthasar, and their score is settled. He poofs, and the brothers are left to their own hairless ape ways. Of course they now need to economise the space in the car (ahhh the way it should be), and Sam finds a Wendigo mask, cute.

"Are you okay?" “Yeah, I’m great.”

Good, Dean's noticed that Sam is different too. "Where were you?" he asks, because it's like Sam doesn't care anymore. He's different. But the million dollar question is, what is it exactly that has made him change? Sam's explanation makes sense, sure, but there's something else. He's lost some of his emotions, it seems, and emotions are what makes us human. Is he fully human? I hope there’ll be a real explanation for this and not some cop-out halfway through the season, because I’m just gonna lay it out there: I want to see Sam cry. He’s been stoic faced all year and clearly there’s something going on. Last time he was left to fight without Dean for a year, he went through a similar turning-to-stone-and-turning-evil (damn you Ruby) transformation, but once Dean came back he began to feel emotion again and regained his righteousness. This time it’s not out of grief, or through demon blood and power (we hope), so what is it? I have no theories at this moment, so I’ll open the floor for any non spoilery speculation.

"So you're saying you're stonger than me?"
"No I'm just saying... we're different."

Yeah, I believe they are. But… how?

And there we go! Personally I think this was the best episode of the season so far, I really enjoyed seeing Castiel again and I hope he’ll be back on a semi regular basis! We’ve completed the transition to Sam and Dean back together in the Impala now, and hopefully we’ll see them fight some monsters old school interspersed with developments in the mystery surrounding Sam and Samuel’s returns (it’s probably Raphael’s doing, don’t you guys think? Or… could they throw in a wrench and make Sam’s return God’s doing?), and hopefully your occasional visits to Bobby’s house because um, joyfulness! Sound off in the comments about what you thought about this week’s show, and see you all next week!

Also, just a reminder: if you liked this review and want to read more thoughts on TV, books, film and more, please check out the Patchwork! blog, which has all that good stuff. See you there!

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