Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 10, “Road Trip”

by sketchyfeminist

I very much doubt I am going to get the next 13 of these things up before SPN Season 10 kicks off on the 7th, but here’s another “Some Thoughts” on Supernatural, anyway. With even more random “thoughts” than usual. It will probably be pretty confusing if you haven’t watched the episode recently. (It also might be confusing if you have watched it recently.)

“Road Trip” was written by Andrew Dabb and directed by Robert Singer.

WARNING: SPOILERS.

The Title

I got nothin’.

The Premise

Dean is guilt tripping over Kevin’s death in classic self-flagellating “Global warming: that’s on me” fashion. To be fair, Kevin’s death is partially his fault. As is global warming! (Baby’s not exactly environmentally friendly.) Re-Graced Castiel comes back to the bunker and Dean tells him all about how he let not-Ezekiel possess Sam to save Sam’s life. They decide they have to find not-Ezekiel and communicate with possessed!Sam so that Sam can cast not-Ezekiel out. They enlist the captive Crowley to help them, and they all head off in Castiel’s pimpmobile car.

CROWLEY: Really? What are you, a pimp?

CASTIEL: I like it.

Dean makes Crowley and Castiel sit in the back together, and away they go.

Further “random thoughts” under the cut:

The Missing Joke

In an earlier episode, when Dean drove around with an “angel and a demon” in the back seat, he made a porn joke.

DEAN: It’s just an angel and a demon riding in the backseat. It’s like the setup to a bad joke. Or a Penthouse Forum letter.

–Season 4, Episode 10, “Heaven and Hell”

The angel and demon in that episode were both women.

In this episode, Dean once again drives around with an angel and a demon in the back seat. This time they’re both men.

He doesn’t make the same porn joke now, but we all remember it.

Fangirls remember.

The Episode’s Gaping Plot Hole, which Yawns like a Chasm of Emptiness

OK, so most of the plot of this episode revolves around Dean and Castiel’s quest to de-angel Sam. To do this, they need to communicate with Sam’s submerged consciousness so that Sam can cast the angel out–presumably Captain-Kirk style (i.e. by trying really hard).

Aww, I feel sorry for all of the angelic vessels in this series who can’t cast out superpowered beings of extradimensional intent through sheer force of will.

But, as Castiel says, Sam is “strong”, and, well, Sam did get all that step-by-step practice resisting possession, what with (middling powerful) demon Meg, and then later the (arch!)angel Lucifer, so for once this trope gets a pass from me.

Dean, Cas and the King of Hell track not-Ezekiel down so that Crowley can torture not-Ezekiel by shoving metal rods into Sam’s head, thus potentially giving Crowley access to not-Ezekiel’s angelic “source code”, or something, because the fact that angels are programmable (like robots, but with magic) was established in Season 8. Dean and Cas stand around having an uncomfortable heart-to-heart while listening to Crowley torture not-Ezekiel in Sam’s body.

And I guess this is one way that they can accomplish what they want to accomplish, and it’s all dramatic and angsty in that fasion that I usually love, but the whole time I’m watching this scene, all I can think is: WTF WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS WHEN YOU CAN EXORCISE AN ANGEL?

Seriously. It is part of the Supernatural canon that you can exorcise an angel. In Season 4, Episode 10, “Heaven and Hell,” Alastair starts to exorcise Castiel. It doesn’t take, because Alastair gets interrupted, but until he’s interrupted, it sure looks like it’s working.

Given, Alastair’s a major player, and maybe he has special skills that not every demon has, but Crowley’s the King of Hell. Except for Abaddon (and maybe Cain), Crowley is the most powerful demon left standing. How does he not know how to exorcise an angel? Is it a lost art? Was Alastair its last practitioner?

For that matter, how does Castiel not know how to exorcise an angel? How does he not even bring it up as an option? I mean, he was the one Alastair was exorcising. Sure, he’s exploded twice since then and gone through a whole bunch of mind-control sessions at Naomi’s dentist’s office in the sky, but–OK, so maybe Castiel legitimately doesn’t remember. Poor Cas.

Still. How is the fact that angels can be exorcised not just common knowledge for angels? Like, angel preschool stuff? You would think that they would want to guard against being exorcised.

So, if I fanwank hard enough, I can kind of create a headcanon in which (a) Castiel either doesn’t remember that angels can be exorcised OR does remember but will not reveal that info even for Sam’s sake AND (b) Crowley either doesn’t know that angels can be exorcised OR he does know that they can but can’t do it himself OR he does know, and can do it, but chooses not to tell anybody because torture is more fun.

However, since no one even alludes to the possibility of angel exorcism, it just feels like the showrunners forgot that angel exorcism was a thing.

But it is a thing.

Angel exorcism is a thing in the Supernatural universe. Crowley torturing not-Ezekiel in Sam’s body is therefore–literally–a gratuitous torture scene.

Way to shoehorn that in there, guys.

And as much as I feel like I should have my hackles raised on the hey-Supernatural-is-showing-a-gratuitous-torture-scene front, I’m honestly too distracted by the gaping plot hole.

“I mean, horror is one thing, but to be forced to live bad writing…”

–Chuck to Sam and Dean in “The Monster at the End of This Book”

Gadreel

Eventually, not-Ezekiel reveals his true identity. He is Gadreel, the angel who let Satan into the garden that one time! And he’s been paying for it ever since! And Castiel’s still peeved at him for it!

Which, let’s be fair: glass houses, Castiel.

Full confession: Until Castiel started referring to Gadreel with male-gendered pronouns, I really thought Gadreel was going to be revealed as female. Then again, angels aren’t really sticklers about gender either way. Except when they are. (Angel and demon handbook now, show.) Anyway, since Gadreel seemed to have that super-close relationship (friends and possibly more) with his fellow angel Abner, and Abner seems to identify as male as well, we can maybe sort of almost argue that the show gave us a couple of new gay characters this season. [SPOILER] Who both die.

A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking*

So, this episode has two women who talk to each other. (Then again, so does “Rock and a Hard Place.” That episode, man. It haunts me.)

Abaddon talks to the IT demon who helps Crowley track down the Impala in an earlier scene. Crowley’s contact openly admits that she’s “playing both sides” until either Crowley or Abaddon is firmly established as the new ruler of Hell. Abaddon, being part of the old guard of demons who believed in things like respect for the person with the most raw power, stabs her to death.

sketch of IT demon from Supernatural 9.10, "Road Trip"

The subtle “oh shit” expression you make when you realize you’ve pissed off a Knight of Hell.

Well, there goes one potentially interesting new character.

So: is this a Bechdel Pass? No if men can’t be referenced in the conversation at all; yes if men can be referenced but are not objects of romantic interest; yes if men can be referenced, as long as the women talk about other stuff, too; no if we never get the name of the IT demon (and I just don’t remember whether we do or not). In other words: eh, maybe. And as we all know, the Bechdel Test is more useful in indicating trends within popular than in evaluating individual scenes. In almost-related news: Alison Bechdel is now a certified genius. Cool.

So why do I keep bringing the “Bechdel Test” up? Mostly because I like it and it helps me think through stuff. It’s kind of telling that there’s only one scene in the episode that could even be interpreted as possibly passing the Bechdel Test–and it’s a scene in which one woman kills another–so there’s that.

I know, I know: I’m greedy. After all those women in “Rock and a Hard Place” and that all-female angel glee club in “Holy Terror,” here I am, still clamoring for more female representation in Supernatural. Oh wait. Not more: better. (And more.)

And are there any POCs in “Road Trip”? Like, at all? I’d have to watch the episode again, but I kinda remember it being all-white, all the time.

The Wincest Moment

Well, SPN made the Destiel ‘shippers cry in the last episode, so now it’s time to target the Wincest ‘shippers. It is their turn.

At the end of the episode, Sam learns about ALL THE CRAP that Dean has consented to on his behalf without his knowledge or, well, consent. He is rightfully horrified, Dean is defensive, and instead of working through their issues, Dean decides to just take off, and–wow, Sam and Dean are totally breaking up. It’s not the first time they’ve broken up, but damn this is cold. They more-or-less decide (or maybe it’s more like Dean unilaterally decides) not to talk about any of this stuff because what’s done is done and Dean doesn’t regret inviting evil supernatural creatures into his brother, blah blah blah.

What happened to the part where they “sit on the Impala and talk about their feelings” (6.15, “The French Mistake”) show? Huh? You know better than to skip that. We know you know better, because you pointed it out in Season 6! Gah!

The Best Moment in the Episode that wasn’t about Cas’s Sweet Ride

Towards the end of the episode (but before the Winbros break up), Sam’s all de-angeled, Gadreel’s back in Tahmoh Penikett, and Abaddon shows up to the Cas, Dean, Sam and Crowley party. Abaddon and Crowley face off. Abaddon thinks this is going to be a duel, and then Crowley makes a “campaign speech” to her minions.

ABADDON: Well, then, let’s settle it. You and me. Right here. Winner takes the crown.

CROWLEY: See, that’s your problem, love. You think this is a fight.

ABADDON: [laughs] It’s not?

CROWLEY: It’s a campaign. Hearts and minds, that’s what’s important. See, the demons have a choice: take orders from the world’s angriest ginger–and that’s saying something–or join my team, where everyone gets a say, a virgin, and all the entrails they can eat.

So, think on this, lads. Spread the word–vote Crowley.

And it is glorious.

Side note: A lot of enterprising SPN fans on the Internet have made “Vote Crowley: King of Hell” campaign posters, and I think that’s awesome.

Final Thoughts

Distracting plot hole is distracting. Seriously. This basically ruins the episode for me.

Also, Dean frees Crowley in exchange for Crowley de-angeling Sam, which means no more Crowley bondage. I’m going to miss the Crowley bondage.

***

* The only reason I know this play exists is because it came up a lot in high school drama. It came up a lot because it was made up of scenes in which two women speak to each other without any men being in the scene with them. We had a small room devoted to scripts, and I remember spending hours in that room scouring for monologues for women and for scenes with only women. (In case you were wondering: these things are hard to find.) And shockingly enough, our drama group had more girls than boys. I don’t remember A Coupla White Chicks all that well, though, or if there’s a reason (other than the title) for its characters to be white.

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