The Sketchy Feminist

Staring down the male gaze, or: Looking at looking at women in popular culture

Tag: castiel

Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 1, “Black” or “Who the Blank are These People?”

Yep, so I saw last week’s Supernatural Season 10 premiere.

It was terrible.

And I seriously thought about ending my review right there. Because what else is there to say, really? I didn’t like it. At all. I think it had maybe one or two good lines (courtesy of Crowley) and that’s about it for the good parts.

And the show was written by long-time showrunner Jeremy Carver and directed by long-time showrunner Robert Singer, and this was, naturally, announced in the opening credits (y’know, where episode writing and directing credits usually go) so my hopes were all up.

Aaaand then I watched the episode.

The episode opens with Sam torturing and killing a woman (or a presumably female demon in a possibly-dead-but-possibly-not female human body). This, of course, pings my “SPN random-acts-of-violence-against-female-characters” detector, but this sort of thing is such a common occurrence in the SPN ‘verse that after nine seasons, I don’t have much of a reaction to it. (And maybe my lack of reaction itself indicates the insidious potential effect of these scenes, or maybe this scene in particular is just boring.) The boys, for their part, haven’t batted their long-lashed eyelids at torturing and killing the human vessels of demons for years now. And yet the demon Sam is torturing is all, “Wow, you’re far gone. You must be the demon brother.” Like she thinks that a Winchester torturing a demon is somehow an event worthy of note.

Guess she’s new in town.

My subjective opinions on the episode can be found under the cut:

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

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:

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Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 9, “Holy Terror”

“Holy Terror” was written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner and directed by Thomas J. Wright.

Warning: This review is full of SPOILERS. But it is also very, very late, so it will probably not spoil anybody.

The Title

Uh, I really hope this isn’t a reference to Frank Miller’s self-professed propaganda comic of the same name.

But it seems about as likely as anything else. Here’s the Wikipedia disambiguation page for the phrase “Holy Terror.” Maybe there’s something in there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Terror

For now, I’m going to assume that this title was chosen because it sounded like a familiar phrase and could be tied to angels, while working as a reference both to the large-scale threat of the angelic ‘holy war’ and the small-scale threat presented by specific angels.

The Premise

This episode starts out with two gangs of angels (one a church glee club, one a biker gang) facing off against each other. The church glee club (composed entirely of women) wins! The biker gang is K/Oed. Just kidding! They all die.

Sam and Dean roll into town to investigate.

When they arrive on the scene impersonating FBI agents, they find Castiel. When last we saw Cas, he was homeless and working a low-income job at a gas station. Now Castiel, too, is impersonating an FBI agent.

So many questions! Where did Cas get his new suit? Where did he get the money for his new suit? Is it a rental? How did he manage transportation to the crime scene? Is his car a rental? Did he bus here? Did he call out of work for this? Does he have a home now?

None of these questions are answered! (As in: never. Unless they address this stuff in Season 10.) I feel like the show skipped an episode.

Anyway, the boys greet Castiel. Sam looks amused; Dean looks annoyed. Castiel explains, “I still have that badge you gave me,” which–what? Dean gave Cas his fake badge in Season 5, Episode 3, “Free to be You and Me.” Which means that, even though Cas has exploded twice since then, been submerged in a lake, gotten amnesia, lost his Grace and gotten rid of all his clothes, his (well, Jimmy’s) wallet made it through intact. I guess I knew that, since he used money in Season 8’s “Clip Show” (though I always wondered if he acquired that wad of cash elsewhere) but this is still a little weird. And a little sweet. It reminds me of how Dean kept Cas’s trench in Season 7.

Aww, they’re like pack rats.

Moving right along. Cas proceeds to be painfully adorable and Team Free Will sits down for a beer–that is, until Ezekiel-in-Sam’s-body shows up to Destiel block. One of Ezekiel’s biggest plot functions is keep Cas away from Dean. This does not endear Ezekiel to me. At Ezekiel’s prompting, Dean gives Cas the “It’s not you; it’s me” speech.

Thus making all the fangirls cry.

Hey, Metatron!

Metatron shows up, removing himself from my “Missing in Action” list.

Metatron lets us all know that Ezekiel is really Gadreel. Apparently, Gadreel was the angelic guard who let “evil” into the garden of Eden, thus making him responsible for the Fall of Man and pretty much all the evil on Earth. And he’s been being punished for his failure for thousands of years. No wonder he’s always so twitchy.

And Metatron recruits Gadreel, saying that together, they can fix Heaven. This should sound familiar from when Metatron used almost the exact same rhetoric on Cas in Season 8. So this should end well. Also, the creepy music in the background is kind of a giveaway that this is a bad idea.

Later in the episode, Metatron asks Gadreel to prove his “fidelity” by killing people Metatron wants killed. And Gadreel accepts this, because–well, honestly, I think that after millenia of being blamed for all things bad, Gadreel is just desperate for approval from somebody.

Back in the Plot

There is more angelic infighting between the Bartholomew faction and the Malachi faction! This time, Bart’s people kill one angel and a bunch of vessels. OK, then.

Castiel Prays!

Castiel prays! Every which way he can think of. Like someone throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. I don’t know why he’s hedging his bets so much, considering how entrenched Supernatural is in Judeo-Christian mythology, but it’s a little hard to care about that one way or the other.

Because seriously? This is so cute. It’s wrong how cute this is.

It’s also just about the most ill-considered thing that Castiel could do, on account of how he’s Heaven’s Most Wanted and he has zero angelic allies.

Fortunately for him and all of his fans, a friendly angel does answer his prayer. She’s all, “Wow, this was stupid of you.” Here’s the reasoning he gives her for why he thought broadcasting his thoughts to thousands of superpowered people who want him dead might not be the worst idea in the history of ever:

CASTIEL: I’m warded, and my Grace is gone, and I was hoping that I would seem like just another desperate human that the … the militants couldn’t care less about.

Weak, Castiel. Very weak. There are so very many conditions that need to be met for this course of action to work out.

You’re trusting a lot to faith there, Cas.

Oh, yeah …

And the rest of my recap/review is under the cut:

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Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 6, “Heaven Can’t Wait”

Wow, I haven’t posted a Supernatural response in a long time. So here’s one. Considering Episode 12 just aired, this is not exactly timely. But what can I say? I’m playing catch up.

I started drafting this response right after “Heaven Can’t Wait” aired (before putting it on a virtual shelf and allowing it to accumulate virtual dust), so the bulk of it was written without any knowledge of what comes to pass in the subsequent episodes.

“Heaven Can’t Wait” was directed by Rob Spera and written by Robert Berens.

Season 9. Episode 6 of Supernatural has four speaking roles played by women in it. Five if you count the disembodied voice on the suicide hotline. And six if you count the wailing infant. (All playing human or human-like parts, and not just voicing non-human animals.) Actually, I think this is a female-representation record for the season! [E/N: Until “Rock and a Hard Place,” anyway. I will share my … opinions … on that episode later.] Confetti and cookies for all!

Are they all roles that in some way feed into stereotypes about women? Yes, yes they are. Except for the infant. But infants get a pass for being dependent and vulnerable. What the hey, I’m still pleased. Because women! They exist!

Castiel’s New Job

Much like “I’m No Angel,” this is really Castiel’s episode.

When Cas first shows up, he is doing the most humiliating thing the showrunners could think of: working at the Gas N’ Sip. (Cue lightning and dissonant chords played on a pipe organ.) I wonder how many fans of this show work at gas stations, and how many of them threw things at the screen when this episode aired.

And this is … a pretty idealized version of working retail, actually. I mean, Castiel’s boss seems appreciative (at first anyway), the delivery guy is polite and we don’t see Cas encounter any whiny, invasive or verbally abusive customers. And the place is very clean. (Though that may just be because Cas himself is so good at cleaning it.) A customer service job without annoying customers? I don’t think any other “sales associate” in the world has experienced that.

Dean’s Reaction to Castiel’s New Job

As it turns out, Dean is kind of an elitist, which is weird considering how self-conscious he’s always been about his own relative lack of education (compared to Sam). When Dean first sees Cas at his new job, he’s all, “You’re too good for this.” Shut up, Dean. Some people work for a living. Also, for most of your life, your finances have come from pool hustling and credit card fraud. And since we never saw you set Cas up with sweet, sweet fake IDs or fraudulent credit cards or cash or even a short-term loan, I’d say he’s doing pretty well for a homeless dude with no ID, money, references or personal history. Just saying.

Also–in this episode and in earlier ones in the season–Sam keeps asking Dean about how Cas is doing (and I love that Sam is thoughtful like that), but he never brings up the money angle. Right now, I’m assuming that Sam is assuming that Dean has already thought of how Cas will need money to survive now that he’s human.

Yeah, Sam really should know better.

No, Wait, It’s Actually Babysitting That is the Most Humiliating Thing the Showrunners Can Think Of

While on the job, Castiel thinks he is being asked out by his attractive supervisor, Nora. Apparently, however, she just wants him to come to her house and babysit her small child, while she goes out bowling with someone else. The whole sequence–and most of the episode, really–seems intended to embarrass Cas, or to make us feel embarrassed for Cas, and Cas ending up having to care for a baby when he thought he was going to get sex (or at least stuff that would lead up to sex) is just oh-so-emasculating that we must all feel sorry for Cas and Cas’s sexual frustration. And I do feel sorry for Cas. Mostly because his boss is clearly taking advantage of him.

I’m a little annoyed with how the episode handles the miscommunication between Nora and Castiel. It would have been really easy to have Cas misunderstand Nora’s intentions simply because he’s still only newly human and he has a hard time picking up on social cues. Castiel’s boss could have asked him to babysit in such a way that the audience would understand what she meant, but Cas would not. Instead, Nora “delicately” phrases her request as follows:

NORA: I’ve been afraid to ask. I don’t wanna take advantage of you as my employee, and I certainly don’t wanna jeopardize our working relationship. But as a working, single mom, it’s hard enough to get a date, let alone meet a really great guy, and–Tomorrow’s my night off, and I know you’re off, too, and I was just wondering if there’s any chance you’re free tomorrow night?

CASTIEL: Um … yes? Yes.

NORA: [kisses him] You’re the best.

Yeah, the thing missing from this request for babysitting services is the actual request itself.

This means that it really, really seems like she’s asking Cas out. Which, in turn, makes it seem like she’s leading him on. And even though she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s leading Cas on, the whole thing still reads like a bait-and-switch in which Nora lures Castiel to her home with her feminine wiles, only to drop the (horribly emasculating) chore of babysitting in his lap.

Cas himself certainly seems to think babysitting is emasculating. When he learns of his night’s true occupation, he sighs out the word “babysitting” with an air of utter resignation. As if he associates some stigma with the task of caring for another person’s child. Where would he have even picked up on that? Did the topic of babysitting come up a lot in his garrison?

It just kind of irks me that the thing the show tells us is even more humiliating than the (presumed to be humiliating) occupation of customer service is the female-coded occupation of caring for a child.

And to add insult to, well, insult, Castiel’s supervisor never offers to pay him for his night of babysitting, even though, as his boss, she surely has some idea of how much he needs the money. Babysitting can be very difficult work, and even when it is not exceptionally difficult, it can still be stressful. It is something you ask family and maybe close friends to do for free. In the right circumstances. Everybody else, you reimburse for their time.

Also, getting your employees to do stuff for you, for free, outside of working hours? Yeah, that’s just tacky.

And the rest of the post is under the cut:

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Some Thoughts on Supernatural Season 9, Episode 2, “Devil May Care”

Here be my incredibly SPOILERY reactions for “Devil May Care,” Supernatural Season 9, Episode 2. (Directed by Guy Norman Bee; Written by Andrew Dabb.) The following is full of SPOILERS.

The Title

“Devil May Care”? Meh, they’ve done better.

Dean

Oh, Dean.

Dean keeps a secret from Sam. Dean feels guilt. Dean drinks. See Dean drink.

So, back in Episode 1, Dean agreed to let the angel Ezekiel possess Sam’s body to save Sam’s life. Sam is in the driver’s seat most of the time, but Ezekiel is still in there. Now Dean feels all bad about the angel deal he made, but he won’t go back on it or fess up, because then Sam could evict Zeke and die without the angelic healing mojo Ezekiel is pumping into his system.

I get that Dean feels like he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s either let this angel possess Sam’s body or let Sam die, and neither of those options are good. Still. What Dean and Ezekiel are doing to Sam is reprehensible.

I do like that Dean has started calling Ezekiel “Zeke.” Because he wants Zeke to be the new Cas, clearly.

My favorite Dean moment in the episode is when he tells Kevin that he’s family, and that the four of them, Dean, Sam, Castiel and Kevin, are all a part of that family. Dean, I just knew you were meant to play mother hen to everybody. I hope Castiel moves into the bunker soon so that the whole family (plus a body-sharing angel and a captive demon) can all start living under the same roof.

Samzekiel

Possession-without-true-consent issues aside, Ezekiel seems really nice. Too nice. “Oh, sure, you want me to ride in the backseat of your brother’s mind, healing what would have been the fatal damage from his Hell trials, never letting on that I’m there or interfering in his life in any way, except on–and ONLY on–those occasions when I can save him from certain death. And once he’s healed and I’m healed I’ll leave and never bother you again. And in return all I ask is a brief ride in the Sammobile, during which ride I will main as unobtrusive as fallen-angelically possible.”

I’m not sure even Castiel at his pushoveriest was this accommodating an angel.

And while I can’t stop waiting for the other shoe to drop (at which point we will surely discover Zeke is some kind of Lucifer-and/or-Michael-supporting baddie, or something along those lines), I really hope Ezekiel turns out to be trustworthy. Because all the consent vs. free will stuff surrounding this very odd situation is just so much more interesting if Ezekiel really is just trying to help.

My new, dearest hope for Sam this season: Sam comes to terms with sharing his body with Ezekiel. Then, whenever he’s in a tight spot, he shouts “Shazam!” to summon his angelic alter-ego.

I know it’s not going to happen.

But … please? I really really want it to happen.

My sketch of Samzekiel in Supernatural 9x02, "Devil May Care"

Shazam, bitches.

Abaddon

Yay, Abaddon’s back!

Wow, Abaddon is really attached to her Alaina-Huffman-shaped meat-suit. I mean, she could have just gone out and possessed any one of millions of bodies that have not been shot, minced, buried alive, dug up, sewn together and immolated, but instead she gets a henchman to practice necromancy to revive her favorite body.

So if, as it seemed, Abaddon spent some time as smoke while waiting for her favorite meat-suit to come back from the figurative dry-cleaners, does that mean that Josie got a chance to go to the afterlife? Or do human souls return when their bodies are cured of the whole being-dead thing? I think this show needs to put out an “ABCs of Possession” handbook: Angels and Demons and the People They Wear, because this is all very confusing.

Abaddon rises from the bathtub where her henchman performs the dark necromantic ritual on her favorite fleshly outfit, and we see a few blurry, tantalizing glimpses of Abaddon’s (Josie’s) naked body. Because she’s the sexy kind of evil.

My sketch of Abaddon in Supernatural 9x02, "Devil May Care"

Her clothes burned away, but her makeup, hairspray and nail polish were somehow reconstituted. Don’t ask.

Apparently, Abaddon is now thinking of upgrading her meat-suit to Dean Winchester, whom she sees as a superior vessel (well, Michael wanted him; she’s probably got a point). That’s what she tells Dean, anyway, once she’s got him in her well-manicured clutches. Honestly, it seems like an empty threat considering how clearly attached she still is to Josie’s body. Why else would she have gone through all that trouble to get it back?

So now I have this fantasy that the season will eventually include an Abaddon-in-Dean vs. Ezekiel-in-Sam showdown, which would be pretty cool. And hey, maybe somebody could possess Cas, too, just for fun. (Like, maybe a demon could possess Cas, and then get ‘healed’ by the Winchesters, and then an angel could possess the healed demon in Cas, who would still be possessing Jimmy, and it would be like possession nesting dolls. Because why not?)

So, Abaddon seems pretty set to become the Queen of Hell. With Crowley still in the Winchesters’ dungeon, there’s not a lot standing in her way.

And the rest of my Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 2 reaction is under the cut:

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Some thoughts on the Supernatural Season 9 Premiere, “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”

First off: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE, for everything in Supernatural up to and including this episode. Proceed at your own risk.

The Road So Far

The recap kicks off with the Impala zooming down a road and Charlie’s disembodied voice saying, “There’s pretty much nothing the Winchesters can’t do if they work together.” This is a sweet sentiment. Inaccurate, but sweet. The Winchesters have failed plenty of times and that’s why I love them.

After a few seconds, the music picks up. Oh, hells yeah.

It sounds like this “Road So Far” is set to the George Thorogood & the Destroyers cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” Because I am an English major and not a rock star, it will forever bother me that the song does not go “whom do you love,” but I can’t have everything. And also, that would sound terrible.

Anyway, the song is good, and consistent with the tone of the show. The refrain of “Who do you love?” serves to remind us of how much the central characters have sacrificed, or at least tried to sacrifice, for their loved ones. There are also several moments when the line “Who do you love?” comes right before a cut from Dean to Castiel or a cut from Dean to Sam, which surely makes for excellent fodder for those dedicated Destiel and Wincest fans out there. There’s less grist for the Sastiel and Moosely mills, but slash fans can’t have everything, either.*

The song also makes incorporating Crowley’s big “I deserve to be loved” moment into the recap really easy. It’s like a call/response thing. The song asks, “Who do you love?” and Crowley screams, “I deserve to be loved!” Piece of cake. And you just know that this was a priority for the producers. If you have seen a single Supernatural interview between last season’s finale and this season’s premiere, you know that the showrunners, cast and crew cannot get over how awesome they think the Sam/Crowley church scene was. They pretty much went fanboy for themselves, really.

And hey, it’s not like they were wrong. It is a good scene, and it’s nice to see it here.

The Title

Fun fact: “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here” is a song from the musical Annie. (There’s also this version with Audra McDonald.) This continues the long tradition of Supernatural naming its episodes after song titles. This episode name, of course, brings with it the added bonus of referencing a Broadway show tune sung by (and to) Little Orphan Annie.

My sketch of Death in Supernatural's Season 9 premier episode, "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here"

Does that make Death Daddy Warbucks?

Also, like most of the SPN episode titles, this one has a nicely layered meaning, working as a potential reference for both Sam in Limbo, contemplating the afterlife, and Castiel–and his fallen brethren–trying to deal with being stuck on Earth. (This is especially appropriate for Castiel’s arc, considering his initial optimism regarding his siblings’ potential for assimilation.) But two layers doesn’t make for much of a layer cake, so of course the title also applies to Ezekiel taking up residence in Sam’s body.

Sadly, I cannot stretch the title’s meaning to apply to Crowley, who spends the episode in the trunk of Dean’s car.

And the rest of my reaction is under the cut:

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