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the island of conclusions

...Of Celestial Armies Prince (belated episode reaction: SPN 5.13)

the island of conclusions

bright star

...Of Celestial Armies Prince (belated episode reaction: SPN 5.13)

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bright star
…th’ archangel soon grew nigh,
Not in his shape celestial but as a man
Clad to meet man….
(Paradise Lost, 6.44, 11.238-40)

Okay, I know you’ve all probably all moved past this episode by now, but I was away all weekend, and didn’t get to join in the fun. But I liked the episode enough to actually buy it from itunes and watch it again, which I haven’t done for ages, so I’m going to rattle on a bit…

I may have mostly liked it so much because young!Mary and young!John were written and played so beautifully. If there is a season 6, maybe it could be a spin-off about the two of them—kind of like Supernatural meets That 70s Show. I would totally watch that. Except for how it would be unbearably sad.

I was completely spoiled about Michael showing up for the first time in this episode, and for weeks I though he would appear in/through Mary. Lucifer showed up for the first time as a woman, and it would have been symmetrical and kinda cool if Michael had done so too. Besides, thought I, if there’s anyone Dean wouldn’t be able to say no to, it would be his mom.

But having him show up in John actually made more sense. Lucifer is, conventionally, and on SPN, the (fallen) angel of emotional persuasion, whereas Michael, conventionally, and now on SPN, is all about righteousness. And while it now seems likely that Dean will say yes to the archangel eventually, of course it wasn’t going to be in episode 13.

Another thing I thought the episode did nice job of was in getting so many different emotional effects out of the “meet the parents” set-up: showing not only the poignancy of Sam telling young!John he forgave him and loved him, and the pure pain of Dean telling Mary how things had worked out for her children, but the almost more poignant, because more mixed, temporal irony of Dean saying to John “you remind me of my father,” and the absolutely devastating irony of the last scene’s “angels are watching over you.”

It was lovely, of course, to see Sam come to terms with his (not yet) father, but the consolatory power of that scene was nicely balanced by Dean’s much more ambivalent or complex reaction to John’s introduction to hunting. The little scene I mentioned above my have been one of my two favorites in the episode, though it was probably only a minute or so long. The way Matthew Cohen was able to show ruthless!JDM!John emerging from the naïve, loving man he had been was very impressive. And the mix of emotions JA conveyed as he showed him the sigil was really wrenching: pride in his soon to be badass dad warring with protectiveness towards the sweet young man he had never really known—mixed with plain sorrow over things taking this inevitable turn….

The fact that Dean and Sam have pretty much switched positions re: John has been explicit since mid-S4—probably since Dean’s S3 therapeutic breakthrough in “Dream and Little Dream” (“my father was an obsessed bastard”)—but it was still satisfying to see it play out in this episode.

The angels, however, don’t seem to have been watching the show. Michael!John’s appeal to Dean to do the right thing because he was a good son seemed to fall on deaf, or at least resistant, ears. Dean’s advice to the angel about the rewards of being a good son, “Yeah, take it from someone who knows, that’s a dead-end street,” seemed remarkably bitter, especially in comparison to Sam’s declaration of forgiveness. Now, it could just be a case of his protesting too much, but it did make me think that if (when) Dean says yes to Michael, it won’t be out of a spirit of filial obedience or even filial piety.

Just one more thing: I adored the short scene of pregnant!Mary and John at the end. Because even though we know their epic love has powered much of the plot of SPN, we’ve never really seen it. We never really see devoted, physical love on the show—so just a glimpse of it really packed a punch.

  • (no subject) -
    • Re: it was a good ep, wasn't it

      yeah, I wish the speech had rung a few more emotional changes...but Matthew Cohen still sold it well--or Michael's arrogant charm, anyway (on re-watch, I loved the way he twitched/straightened Dean's shirt before sending him back)
  • Mary and John were great, weren't they? The scene that really gets me is when Sam and Dean tells Mary to leave John so they won't be born... She barely has the time to accept that they are her sons that she has to face the fact that their lives suck so much that they would gladly never have been born!

    I had somehow missed the spoiler that Michael was going yo first appear in this episode, so it was a good surprise.
    • Oh, I think it would have made the ep. even more fun to be unspoiled for that!

      That was a really wonderful/heartbreaking scene--I agree. The look on Mary's face (you could really believe Dean had gotten his emotional expressiveness from her)--and the joy on Dean's face when he realized he might be able to save his mother after all, even if it means he wouldn't ever exist? *sniff*
  • "The way Matthew Cohen was able to show ruthless!JDM!John emerging from the naïve, loving man he had been was very impressive."

    That brief bit really resonated for me. And you summed up Dean's reaction to it perfectly.

    I agree with you that the real emotional punch of this episode was in seeing both boys see the parents they'd never known.
    • IKR? It was such an emotionally complex situation, and they were really able to get so much out of it in 40 minutes--

      (I think I might be a little in love with Matthew Cohen--I wasn't expecting that!)
  • (no subject) -
    • I agree--I've watched it twice now, and it holds up. I think it's partly because it was much better paced than a lot of the episodes this season have been: a lot of substantial things happened, and happened quickly. And of course, the performances were gorgeous!

      And that was a beautiful/heartbreaking scene when they were willing not to exist--the joy on Dean's face when he realized there might be a way for Mary to survive after all?

      And yeah, the things he remembers...I sometimes think his love for his mother trumps all his other emotional attachments....

      (btw--I'm about halfway through your wonderful new J2 fic--haven't left a comment yet, but I'm enjoying it SO much!)
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