a brief examination of season eleven.

I feel vaguely ashamed to be slinking back to this blog after a six-month absence. Admittedly I told myself I’d detox from SPN this summer, but then I saw the new promo and got all excited again. So, hello, y’all. I’m back.

This is going to be a pretty positive post, because I liked season eleven; however, if I think a thing sucks, I’m going to say it sucked. And since I’m not tackingΒ ‘in my opinion’ on to everything, I’ll go ahead and assume that you’re all rational, level-headed beings who are fully aware that this post isn’t me trying to lay down the law. Feel free to argue, but let’s keep it civil, okay? I’m not expecting you to agree with me on everything. I don’t even want you to agree with me on everything.

Out Of The Darkness, Into The Fire

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That title is clunky as hell, but it’s a great solid episode. It’s interesting, how the brothers get separated this season; they wake up apart, the midseason finale ends with them apart, and the whole season closes on a separation too. But coming back to this episode, there’s a sense of mystery to it. The wildflowers, the post-apocalyptic desertion of the town, the shadows. The mention of the Cage is chilling.

Form And Void

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I love this episode. It’s definitely making my top five of the season, assuming I ever write the thing (Bella, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry). This and 11×01 make an awesome two-parter. I love the atmosphere here; the black-vein nastiness, the opener with the guy’s dirty socks and Sam’s hands in the hardware store, the music cues, Night of the Hunter, the creepy-ass ‘feed me’ scene.

The Bad Seed

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Not so keen on this one. Some great funny moments- that shirt of Dean’s!- but there’s something about it that I don’t like. There’s a weird sort of coy cutesiness there.

Baby

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I reckon there’s four perfect episodes in the show. This is one of them. Also, if someone asked me to pick the best episode of any season- not necessarily my favourite, but the one I regard the most highly- I’d go for Baby. It’s funny and comforting and gritty and all that, sure- but there’s something haunting about it that’s much harder to pin down; something that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else.

Thin Lizzie

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Nancy Won’s debut episode and a further sign that SPN is going back to its horror roots. Some lovely scary camera-work. Brothers being silly. Quirky side characters. A soulless dude called Len. A fun MoTW, basically.

Our Little World

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Another one I love a whole load. This episode is gorgeous. Actually, some of the shots are positively luscious, in all seriousness. I read a bunch of reviews for this one and every single one of them consisted of the reviewers trying desperately to tell themselves that the scene with Dean and fifteen-year-old Amara staring into each other’s eyes was not supposed to be a love scene. Are you kidding me? Of course it was a love scene. An incredibly messed-up love scene. I think Sam’s Hell trauma stuff is dealt with really well in the first half of the season, too- we see just enough.

Plush

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Donna. Crazy rabbit man. Sam’s rather endearing ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ impression (I love how long it takes for him to work himself up to fighting the clown. Another nice return to the horror genre.

Just My Imagination

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This has got to be the cutest episode of the entire show, and this time I mean ‘cute’ in a good way. What a funny lovely sweet episode. The scene with Sam staggering blindly around the kitchen cracks me up every time. And Dean’s ‘I’m gonna get my gun.’ Also his reactions in the dead mermaid scene.

O Brother Where Art Thou

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Harrowing. I think I said in my review that there was something operatic about it. It’s also pretty rapey with regards to the Sam/Lucifer stuff. That’s something I respect SPN for, in a way- it doesn’t flinch from unpleasant subject matter- which doesn’t make the experience of watching it any less uncomfortable. Running alongside the Dean/Amara plotline the unease is doubled. I like Emily Swallow- I think she’s got a lot of charisma- but it was the Cage plotline that really got me here. It’s so well-done. I think that last moment is etched into my eyeballs. There’s a real grandeur to the whole thing, despite some awkward plot maneuvering. I love Singer’s direction here.

The Devil In The Details

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For some reason I really appreciate how inappropriately silly the first scene is. It just tickles me. It’s so Supernatural. Like, we’ve got a protagonist and Satan locked in a box together? Obviously it’s time to open an episode with Mark Sheppard wearing a onesie and being slaughtered with a candy cane. Anyway, I find this episode pretty touching. It manages to walk the line between nefarious humour and violent nastiness in a way that We Happy Few… didn’t.

Into The Mystic

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More loveliness. Eileen and Mildred! This is one of those episodes that manages to be a cool MoTW and an introspective look at the boys. I’m going to miss Robbie.

Don’t You Forget About Me

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Absolutely glorious. The dinner scene might be the funniest thing all season. Also- no expert on this- but I thought the fight scenes here were particularly well-done.

Love Hurts

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A weird dark little episode, I thought. Love the conversation at the end. These boys have come a long way. The Dean/Amara connection is so interesting at this point.

The Vessel

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Really admired the submarine set, the special effects, the direction here. John Badham is awesome at putting the Bunker’s long empty corridors to use. I’m not too keen on the Casifer (Lustiel?) arc this season, I’ll admit- I thought Misha did a great job at imitating Pellegrino, but he just doesn’t have the same menace- but I liked it here.

Beyond The Mat

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Really enoyed the Winchester side of this. Dean cavorting in the empty ring! Like- can you see season two or three Dean doing that? Season eight Dean? Season ten Dean? And Sam blushing.

On the other hand, I found the Crowley-Lucifer narrative almost unwatchable in places. Comparing Sam’s Hell flashbacks in Form and Void to what Lucifer does to Crowley- it’s bizarre. The brutality of the flashbacks, and their almost subliminal quickness- there’s a suggestion of huge depth to how little you see- whereas this was drawn-out and trivial and there’s that coyness again. I get that they were aiming for it to look like some sort of sick joke- but I don’t know; it just didn’t work for me. Which sounds like I disliked the episode on the whole; I didn’t. But there was practically an abyss of dissonance between the two narratives. One with so much history and character behind it; the other was just weird.

Safe House

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Do I even need to say that I love this? I’ve been wanting to see Rufus again since I watched Death’s Door for the first time. To have he and Bobby back- not to mention that lovely callback to one of my other faves, Time After Time- was almost too much for me. Combined with a wonderful creepy haunted house case? This episode.

Red Meat

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Oh, my God, if it weren’t for Baby this would easily make my #1 of the season. Look at how dark it is- and how raw and bloody and desperate- and how mythic. It’s even got Romeo and Juliet parallels. Beautiful.

Hell’s Angel

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Meh. The Zorro mask line was funny. I’m so done with angels- though it was almost worth it to see Casifer getting all up in their space, sitting on their laps, etc. Wondering if perhaps the intention was to acknowledge how boring the angels have become and then have Casifer stroll in and completely wreck all that; unfortunately if that was the intent, they didn’t go far enough. I did like the Exorcist reference- and the dream sequence was awesome.

The Chitters

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I love the way latter-day SPN does queer representation. Like, oh, you’re gay? Congrats. Anybody care? Great. Let’s get on with the story. It’s not a big deal- and I really appreciate that. Or rather, to clarify- no-one is defined by their sexual orientation. It’s really casual. I find that infinitely more respectful than the ‘LOOK AT HOW DIVERSE WE ARE’ attitudes that some shows have. Of course television should be diverse. And it shouldn’t be a big deal. I’m not saying SPN is always perfect on the diverse casting front- but I think this is great.

This episode has a nice look to it (it was directed by Blair Witch veteran Eduardo Sanchez)- forests and roads and sunlight and shadows. Plus some lovely Winchester profiles.

Don’t Call Me Shurley

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You know, earlier I read a Tumblr post. It said something along the lines of I’m so bitter that shows with good LGBTQ representation always get cancelled while Supernohomobro gets renewed for another season.

This is the show that made God bisexual.

Anyway, Robbie Thompson completely sells me on God-Chuck here (you know, just before Buckner & Leming completely un-sell me next episode). How cool are the music cues? Good Vibrations. Gimme Shelter. Fare Thee Well is beautiful. That whole last scene is so moving to me- cathartic, redemptive, whatever- and I’m not even talking about the Samulet. I think the part that really got me was when Chuck raised the woman from the dead. When guest stars die on Supernatural we don’t even blink any more; it’s a matter of course. For Chuck to walk in and turn everything upside down like that really did give it the quality of a miracle.

All In The Family

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This one gets on my nerves. Jensen is spectacular in that first scene; his delivery of ‘and you did nothing‘ is so cool, y’all. And I like Donatello. Distinctly unimpressed with the way Sam’s written here, however. My God, what happened to how twisted and scary the Sam/Lucifer arc was earlier on? They carried that right through to The Vessel and then seemed to completely forget about it.

We Happy Few

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This episode stinks. I hate it. Sure, we’ve had some deeply crappy episodes before- Bugs, Bloodlines, Man’s Best Friend With Benefits- but usually I find that there’s something endearing about their crappiness. This wasn’t endearing. This just made me wince.

A couple of things I really did like; Clea the witch, who was immediately killed for being the only cool character in this storm of awful, and the eerie closing scene with Rowena gazing at the sun. That was it. That was literally it. I don’t know what Berens was smoking when he wrote this thing. It was so bad it actually freaked me out.

Alpha and Omega

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I like the finale. I like that Sam is recognisable again. I really, really like that, because the previous two episodes had me worried. I like that there’s an emotional stake, and I like how that emotional stake is handled, and I like the look and atmosphere of the episode. I don’t like the unaddressed cop-out that was Sam’s Hell trauma arc, and I don’t like the sentimentality of the resolution to the Amara problem, but I do like that the God siblings are out of the way, and I do like the prospect of an earth-based Season Twelve.

But, look, I’m British, and, SPN, we really don’t talk like that.

*

Admittedly I’ve spent longer parsing what I don’t like than what I do. However- despite derailing towards the end- I think we’ve had a good season.

I’ve had a lot of fun picking out a picture to go with each episode; rather too much fun. It’s led me to a fresh realisation of how utterly beautiful season eleven is, so expect a screencap-filled appreciation post soon.

Anyway, don’t be shy about telling me what you think! I mean, unless you’re only here to make rude comments about Stephen Hawking or something like that. But otherwise feel free. Sorry for abandoning you guys for so long- I’ve missed you all.

 

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34 thoughts on “a brief examination of season eleven.

  1. Great review! I totally agree with you on the Buckner-Lemming thing. They should never be trusted with important plot points. Generally when I dislike and episode of SPN, like it’s a real clunker, I look up who wrote it and sure enough, it’s BuckLemming. I’m completely looking forward to season 12. It has always been a burr in my saddle that everyone blames John Winchester for the life Sam and Dean live. But none of this would have happened without Mary, a seasoned huntress, raised from birth, making a demon deal. John, Sam, and Dean never had a chance and the shaky choices that John made while grieving were predicating symptoms not the cause. But I could go on a whole tangent there.

    I’m really looking forward to Mary and Castiel interacting. One of my biggest gripes about Charlie’s death was that we only got to see that one short interaction between her and Charlie but it was enough to tell they really had chemistry. I also hope Castiel gets to return to his season 4 badassness. I know we all know and love Cas who doesn’t understand pop culture, but he was a force to be reckoned with in season 4 and I liked him that way. I’m sick to death of the angels and demons though, so yeah for earth-bound story lines.

    I also would like the members of the Home for Wayward Girls (Jodi, Donna, Claire, and Alex) to get to meet mama Winchester. It would probably explain a lot for them!

    Any who, I have really high hopes for season 12!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      I’ve been known to defend Bucklemming in the past. I do think they’ve done a really good job on occasion- Blade Runners, Soul Survivor, O Brother- but, my god, what a load of clinkers they turned out this season (with that one exception.) Oddly enough, what I felt was the worst foul- We Happy Few- was from Berens, who is usually superb.

      Completely with you in looking forward to s12. I’ll admit, I love Mary & I can’t bear John- but she’s been martyred; no-one puts blame on her, ever. And, heck, maybe they should. So it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out.

      Agreed; we need s4 badass Cas back. I love him, but I haven’t been feeling his relevancy for ages. Obviously that was part of what they were trying to do with the Casifer thing- make Cas fun again- but it backfired.

      Heard noise about ‘good old-fashioned horror stories’ in season twelve. Yussssssssssssssssss.

      And how cool would Wayward Daughters plus mama Winchester be? I think next season looks fabulous.

      Thanks for the lovely comment ❀

      Like

      • I’m biased but after I found out that BuckLemming was responsible for both Racist Killer Truck and Man’s Best Friend with Benefits with the gorgeous black woman wearing a dog collar and calling a white man her master… the pair raises my hackles. People complain about queer representation on SPN but they’re not much better for POC representation. On top of that, they tend to forget about continuity and introduce things that either forget about or flat out contradict cannon, as well as introducing elements that obviously can’t be followed up on like Dean having a daughter with a monster in the Slice Girls or there being rogue reapers and a back door to purgatory through hell in The Taxi Driver. But every blue moon, they write one I like. I liked I’m No Angel. But I’m admittedly one of the more rare Cas Girls.

        I’m curious to see how long mama Winchester sticks around. Women who aren’t a threat to Sam and Dean’s closeness tend to last longer and obviously she’s not. Maybe she’ll be the new Bobby!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Man’s Best Friend is abominable. I mean, I definitely don’t think it was deliberately racist or whatever- but, yeah, it looks so bad. That whole episode was just… unfortunate. -_- I actually kind of like Racist Killer Truck (hides). That’s on my ‘endearingly bad episodes’ list. Mostly because I see that truck revving menacingly and I just can’t keep it together.

          Can’t bear it when writers toss continuity out of the window. Considering how many episodes there is, SPN’s usually so good for that sort of thing- which makes it doubly cringey whenever it falls down.

          Taxi Driver was pretty strange. Great direction & some elements I really like- all the American Gods references!- but how the heck does Sam find Bobby after wandering through, like, two corridors? What about the time differences? What’s annoying is that most problems in Bucklemming episodes are ones that would only take a line of exposition to sort out.

          I liked I’m No Angel! I’m a Sam girl through & through- but totally love Dean & Cas. That episode was lovely, I thought. The conversation in the church!

          And, uh, if I’m honest? I think mama Winchester’s going to die. But don’t listen to me πŸ˜‰

          Like

          • Everybody is allowed one or two “…I actually liked it” episodes. Mine is Season 7, Time for a Wedding! I know people boo and hiss how Becky is presented and consider it a diss to SPN’s fan girls, but I don’t identify with Becky. It has never crossed my mind to kidnap Jensen or Jared and force them to marry me while they’re under a mind altering/ mind control substance. So it doesn’t offend me when the show presents that type behavior as less than mentally stable. I guess I see the point about the double standard rape plot with Becky and Sam but at least the show had the restraint not to have Becky sleep with Sam. I have seen shows cross that line, like Agents of Shield which had Thor’s female lieutenant (I forget her name) sleep with Ward while mind controlling him and justifying it b/c Ward is a bad guy. But overall, I thought the episode (SPN) was funny. I love Garth and I love when Dean is exasperated with but not mad at Sam. And Leslie Odom Jr. was the best!

            I agree with you. Mama Winchester has to go if for no other reason than b/c as Dean said in s2, “What’s dead should stay dead”. I do really hope that this gives Billy the Reaper a reason to come back often. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I’m kinda laughing right now because… me too. I kinda love Time For A Wedding. I mean, it’s shady! It’s so shady! But I can’t help finding it hilarious. And yes- it’s rapey- it’s really quite disturbing when you think about it- and the show is completely capable of dealing with rape (Repo Man, even those Sam/Lucifer eps this season, p. much the whole of season five)- but in that episode… I don’t even know. But I found it funny. Agreed; very good thing that they stopped short of actual sex. Plus Garth? And exasperated Dean? Yeah.

              Yess Billie is the best. I have a raging crush on her, to be honest. The scene where she’s introduced- with her singing- oh, MAN. One of my favourite scenes of the whole season.

              Like

  2. Lovely to see you writing again! It’s been so long, how’re things?
    S11 for me was so up and down! There were some awesome episodes, baby, just my imagination and don’t call me Shurley would have to be my favourite picks. What bugged me most was how it went from being a slow-going season to being wrapped up in 3 episodes. The ending felt very rushed and a bit less dramatic in comparison to others! Not a bad season, but not my favourite πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know- it’s been ages! Should be getting my AS Level results in a few days time and I’ve been working on some personal writing projects. What about you?

      Haha- I get what you mean. For me s11 was fantastic up until episode 21. & yeah- it all happened so fast! I think perhaps they just tried to do way too much at once. God /and/ the Darkness /and/ Lucifer left no time for the really interesting stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! I’m sure you’ll smash them! Good luck though πŸ™‚ you’re right, on the whole I enjoyed it, I don’t think I had an episode that I didn’t enjoy, maybe one or two were not all that’s but still watchable. You know me, always naive lol!
        I was listening to a podcast (which is awesome and I totally recommend! Let me know if you want the details of it!) and the podcasters were talking about spn (it’s an spn podcast) and how there’s a writer who was on s11 (carver?) and he’s had to leave to work on other projects and what felt like a 2 season arc needed to be closed up quicker than expected due to him leaving… Kind of makes sense to me but I’m not massively knowledgeable on the writer and stuff so you might get what I mean lol

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you! I don’t think that’s naΓ―ve at all, lol- overall I thought it was a lovely season- it was so atmospheric.

          Oh, yeah, a bunch of writers left just before the end of the season. Carver, Robbie, Jenny Klein, Nancy Won, & Charmelo & Snyder. Maybe a couple others, too. Dabb’s showrunner now- along with Singer- but apparently for a couple episodes no-one was in charge, which would go some way to explaining the unholy mess that was We Happy Few.

          That podcast sounds cool, I’d love details πŸ˜€ thanks!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes you’re right! There was something off towards to end of the season and it did show in the episodes! So many have left, that’s craziness! I am looking forward to s12 though, I really don’t know what to think about Mary being back and about the men of letters English branch or whatever… Hopefully it’ll be a great season!

            Okay, the podcast is called sn road so far – here’s the link to their website – http://snroadsofar.com – I think you can stream straight from there but I listen via the iTunes podcast app. I really love it and it’s helped me to understand the show a lot more πŸ™‚

            Like

  3. I almost totally agree with your assessment of season 11. Bad Seed(#3), despite Ackles’ direction, had a poorly written script. I also found that the next to last episode plays better if you watch it back to back with the finale almost like a movie- the crescendos and overall movement of the piece flows much better. And I forgive Berens- he can’t be perfect, He will be missed as well.
    Lucifer/Sam arc is sacrificed so that the story can move forward, but I also think that season 12 will deal with more of the Lucifer/Cas family dynamic. Rick Springfield currently working as Lucifer’s first new vessel since Cas- where else could you get to say a sentence like that! Spot on!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello! Yes, the script for Bad Seed was pretty clumsy in places. (One thing I’ve noticed Bucklemming frequently fall down on is exposition. They should /never/ be allowed to handle exposition.

      I’m glad that works for you- but honest-to-god I am never watching 11×22 again if I can help it. I want to bulldoze it from my brain, lol. But I do forgive Berens- all his other episodes have been so good (the frickin’ Werther Project, The Executioner’s Song, my god).

      & you’re not saying he’s left as well!!!?

      Heard that they said at comic-con that s12 will be very earth-based. I’m not anxious for more angel family stuff, to be honest. But I do like the look of Rick Springfield!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. //But, look, I’m British, and, SPN, we really don’t talk like that.//

    But Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins… My childhood. This is like remaking Ghostbusters with wimin.

    *************
    Baby was a great episode. And so much of the stuff with Dean and Amara (even/especially the 15 year old version) was just a perfect infiltration of Dean’s porous boundaries. Now we’ll see what Mom’s presence does to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe. It wasn’t so much that (ahem) Lady Antonia Bevell was posh as that… everyone was posh.

      Or, more accurately: our newsreaders don’t sound like that.

      Baby was fabulous, my god. & I agree about the Dean/Amara stuff! Absolutely love Our Little World.

      Really looking forward to season twelve.

      Like

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