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Supernatural - Raising Hell - Review

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Supernatural “Raising Hell” was written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming and was directed by Robert Singer. There were lots of “surprise” guest appearances that went from delightful to disappointing pretty quickly. It seems that any kind of continuity has been thrown out the window. I was thrilled to see Osric Chau back as Kevin Tran and his performance was terrific, but the storyline completely ignores everything that’s happened before. Like the first episode, we now have all new rules for ghosts – and apparently God. It was also great to see David Hayden-Jones back as Ketch and Ruth Connell as Rowena, and individually they were great, but together they really did lack chemistry, making that storyline fall flat. Finally, however, a big shout out to Emily Swallow who reprised her role as Amara. I made no secret that I thought she couldn’t act in her previous appearances, however, given something to actually do (and thank GOD! a better wardrobe), she really impressed me in this episode. Perhaps in the CW’s single-minded drive to be the female-empowerment network, they are planning on replacing Chuck (Rob Benedict) with a female God…

The episode once again is centered in Harlan as Dean (Jensen Ackles), Sam (Jared Padalecki), Cas (Misha Collins), and Belphegor (Alexander Calvert) try to contain the ghosts with the help of a host of other hunters that they’ve called in. The teaser introduces us to Francis Tumblety/Jack the Ripper (Lane Davies – who was a favorite of mine from way back in the day on Santa Barbara). The residents are getting restless, and Jack the Ripper begins the episode by disemboweling Nan (Jenny Mitchell) who has gone back to get medication for her child. Padalecki is terrific as we see Sam very uncomfortably speak in front of the residents and then have to answer questions!

Meanwhile, Dean and Belphegor patrol the perimeter together. Calvert is still terrific as he creates this new character who is so different from Jack. Dean comments that Belphegor was also a dick in Hell, but Belphegor rightly points out that he was just doing his job – “It’s Hell not a day spa!” I also liked the reference to Crowley when Dean bemoans that he can’t believe he’s teamed up with a demon again. It’s interesting that Dean seems to be able to shoot the ghosts before they fully materialize – has he retained some ability to see or sense them from his own time in Hell? Belphegor ominously warns that the warding won’t last forever to contain the ghosts – and that these aren’t regular ghosty-ghosts – which is a very lame way of explaining why they don’t conform to canon rules. And of course, Dean is pretty impressed when Belphegor tells him he just shot Jack the Ripper! It’s a nice little reaction from Ackles.

The townspeople stupidly decide that they are going to get back in the town. Meanwhile the ghosts also organize within the town. Tumblety informs them that they’re there because of God and are being contained by hunters. Tumblety urges them to gather others and look for a way to open the warding and make things “ugly” for those standing guard. Like hunters will be frightened?

Cas and Sam are arguing about how to handle the townsfolk when Rowena arrives and interrupts. Connell seems to have found a way to tone down her over the top performance even while having to deliver some ridiculous line. Sam wants her to use the crystal spell she used before to contain souls. Rowena is clearly not happy about it – it’s a very difficult spell and she was barely able to do it before. They’re interrupted by the discovery that Tumblety has had two town residents possessed. Tumblety is killing the humans when Ketch shows up with a cool new weapon, full of iron flakes that can shoot a human, expelling the ghost and not killing the host.

Rowena and Ketch get reacquainted. Both are more interested in Scotch than American beer, and Rowena hasn’t forgotten that Ketch helped her escape from the British Men of Letters. While Dean and Sam pick up on their “chemistry” – they’re the only ones. Belphegor reports that the streets are quiet – the ghosts are clearly plotting. Ketch mistakes him for Jack, and Sam tells him that Jack is dead. And Dean adds killed by God. When Ketch learns that it’s actually Belphegor, he declares that this is awkward. He’d been hired to kill Belphegor because he was told he was a monstrous threat to humanity. He quickly assures them that he’s now just there to help. He tells them that he was hired by an attractive female demon named Ardat – who Belphegor clearly knows. Sam tells Ketch not to kill him because they need him, and Dean adds “for now.” Calvert’s reaction here is perfect – he knows he’s likely on borrowed time. Of course, he keeps telling them he loves his job, so shouldn’t he want to get back to Hell anyway?

And then we flash to Reno, where Amara is enjoying a lovely massage. Suddenly it’s Chuck rubbing her head. Amara brushes aside his small talk and wants to know why he’s there. He’d agreed to give her some space.

Rowena asks about Ketch. Dean tells her they’ve got a crisis and to find another boy toy. Besides, she doesn’t want to get involved with Ketch. Rowena isn’t so sure – and this scene is cute.

Cas comes to Dean and apologizes for “dropping the puck.” Dean doesn’t want to hear it. He confesses that he’s angry – but at everything. They are just hamsters running in a wheel. He tells Cas that Cas has bought into the biggest scam in the world – God has been lying to him forever (and this does sound a lot like another “leader”….). Cas confesses that he’s angry too, especially over Jack, but it isn’t all a lie. Chuck knows everything, but he just kept the truth to himself. Cas’s speech about “life” and making their own moves really doesn’t ring true. Dean insists that he can’t pretend that they had any choice. Cas goes back to Dean’s question about what about this is real. Cas tells him that they are real – and the Destiel shippers went wild….

Dean and Ketch patrol. Dean hands Ketch an iron necklace to protect against possession – it’s been so long since we’ve seen a real ghost hunt on this show, I honestly can’t remember if they’ve actually used this before or not. Dean asks Ketch if the BMoL had a weapon for God, and Ketch tells him they thought of God in more “theoretical” terms. And then he asks about Rowena – this is also a cute moment. Meanwhile, two hunters have gone missing.

Presumably, they’ve been patrolling within the barrier? And why would they do that? Previously, the patrols were on the outside of the barrier – which make a lot more sense. Dean and Ketch end up getting thrown around by ghosts and are losing badly, until Kevin shows up and shoos the ghost away. For some reason, Kevin just arrived. Ketch is confused as to why God would have lied about sending Kevin to Heaven – Dean explains God is a dick – because that explains everything. Kevin tells them that the warding is failing – and that he has a bad-boy rep in Hell because God himself cast him down.

In Reno, Amara is now meditating. Chuck wants to go to another dimension or start a family project. But Amara is having a good time in Reno. She’s not interested in spending time with him. She is suddenly aware that something odd is going on. He needs her! And she senses that he’s not at full power – and she hones in immediately on his shoulder. She senses that something happened – he’s not whole and he’s afraid! I loved Swallow in this scene.

Belphegor tells Dean and Sam that the warding is fading and that he can’t charge it back up. When they tell him that Kevin is there, Belphegor brushes Kevin off as a “whiny millennium” which I thought was hilarious. Dean insists that they are sending Kevin back to Heaven – but Belphegor says that it can’t be done. Bobby and John only made it back because God used to like them.

When Chuck touches the wound on his shoulder, Sam feels the pain. It seems the only time that it is painful. Dean looks thoughtful when Sam tells him that the shoulder is getting better.

Kevin joins the other ghosts. He tries to act tough but Tumblety sees through him, and Kevin quickly loses the advantage.

Meanwhile, Ketch helps Rowena with her spell. This scene was almost painful as Connell and Hadyn-Jones try to create a spark where there clearly isn’t one naturally. I have to wonder if their having become friends at so many conventions has created a barrier to them going beyond that on screen. Luckily for everyone, they are interrupted by an impatient Dean.

Rowena runs into Tumblety – again, inside the barrier where she’s travelling alone. She clearly has an unsavory history with Tumblety. Ketch shows up to rescue Rowena, who he tells to run, before getting possessed himself – even though he’s still wearing the iron chain…

Rowena catches up with Dean and Sam and tells him that Tumblety has Kevin. Dean just wants to know if the Soul Catcher will work – it’s always funny when Sam objects to the name – but big brother perks, right?

Dean and Sam dutifully go to the meeting with Tumblety. Davies is really good in the episode. Tumblety starts absorbing Kevin, and then Rowena and Cas show up and she sucks up the other ghosts. Kevin tells them he’s lost his bad-boy status – Hell really will be Hell for him now. Rowena tells them that the crystal is a lot weaker than the last one. She can only do one at a time and a lot of the ghosts got away. Kevin tells them the ghosts have a backup plan. They are going to mass at the barrier and attack it at its weakest point to bust out.

They head to the weak spot, and Belphegor tells them it’s not good. There are a lot of them. Ketch shows up – and now he’s not wearing the iron chain. Rowena starts sucking up ghosts until Ketch slams her out of the way. Dean is now out of ammunition. Tumblety is in Ketch and tells them that he knows the Soul Catcher is a massively powerful weapon that he can use to blow open the warding. Dean shoots Ketch which gets Tumblety out of him. And why could Tumblety suddenly be able to come through the barrier in Ketch? He should have been blasted out the minute Ketch walked through the barrier – otherwise, why not use the other humans to escapes when they wandered in? Plot holes, plot holes, plot holes….

Cas tried to heal Ketch and wasn’t able to. Sam brushes it off as Cas just being tired – but clearly there is something more going on here. Dean apologizes to Ketch for shooting him. Ketch teases that Dean killed him once and he’s just been itching to do it again. Rowena, Ketch and then Rowena and Dean exchange looks that really don’t translate to much – more a weakness in the story than the acting.

Kevin tells Dean and Sam that he’d rather go into the Veil and risk madness than going back to Hell. He asks them to get Belphegor to let him through the warding. Sam is sorry that they can’t fix it, but Kevin is philosophical and tells him that sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t fix it. He assures them that he’s better off than he was, and he tells them that he loves them before going through the barrier and disappearing. Why he couldn’t go back to the bunker is anybody’s guess… it is where he originally died after all.

Amara is off to go gambling, and Chuck is all ready to tag along. She tells him she’s prepared to co-exist in the universe with him – but just not anywhere near him! He tells her not to test him – he fronts the band (an hilarious reference to him fronting his own band, Louden Swain). Amara warns him that even on his best day he couldn’t beat her – and this isn’t his best day. Again, I really loved Amara in this scene. She tells Chuck that she’s done. She’s changed and adapted and become a better me. He’s still the same – petulant and narcissitic. She likes the poetic justice of trapping him as he trapped her so long ago. The truly unfortunate thing about this scene is that it seems to confirm that this really is Chuck/God. And in that case, I’m with Dean. I’m angry that we’ve been lied to for 10 seasons. And I say 10 because I don’t believe that Kripke lied to us for the first 5….

Back at the barrier, the souls just keep popping out of the ground like super bad fireworks. Rowena tells them that the crystal can’t handle it all. Sam says they’ll find another way, but Dean wants to know how. Again, I’m with Dean who seems both tired and disgusted with this storyline.

There’s too much really good television to be satisfied with this sloppy, tired story-telling. I like seeing the characters we love come back, but I don’t love watching them be retconned and ruined. I refuse to turn myself into a pretzel to try to figure out how these round pegs can be forced into a square hole. If the scenes for next week play out, it seems like this season is also going to be a series of deaths. Will Rowena have to die to save the world? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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