“Let It Bleed” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” Review
(Two-part season finale)
By Bekah James
First: John F. Showalter / Sera Gamble
Second: Robert Singer / Kripke
Welcome to Purgatory, folks. We are officially in the long, hot hellatus where conspiracies run wild and tears flow freely. After Friday’s two-hour Season 6 finale, I actually feel like I need that time to consider the ramifications of everything that went down.
This Season finale felt different than the ones that preceded it. I felt like I had an understanding of what was going to happen, or at least the general direction of the endgame. This time, I had no idea where Sera was going. I think that was the problem I had with this Season as a whole. There were too many story arcs competing for shelf space. We had the Campbells, monsters acting crazy, Sam’s soul, Lisa and Ben, Mother, Purgatory, the alphas, the Heavenly Civil War, etc., etc. I didn’t feel very connected to any of the stories because my attention was divided amongst the other issues. I wish they would have stuck to two major stories, and if they wanted to have others, make sure they were contained to a span of a few weeks with some firm resolution before dropping it. Don’t string us one for an entire Season just to find out that the alphas/Campbells/whatever were never actually important. Just… grr.
We started out with Lisa and Ben being kidnapped by Crowley. If he can’t lay hands on the Winchesters, thanks to Castiel’s orders, he can take advantage of a handy loophole and take the humans closest to them. Good thing Dean picked up on the first ring this time. Remember, last time Ben and Lisa tried to reach Dean, he sent the calls to voicemail (6×14, “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning”). After seven episodes without mention of either Braeden, they were back to wreak more havoc on Dean’s psyche. I swear the worst decision Dean ever made was to show up on Lisa’s doorstep after the damn Apocalypse. A domesticated Dean does not work in the confines of the Supernatural world, so as with every person/ thing to ever get close to a Winchester before, Lisa and Ben had to be dealt with. And how did that happen? Well, without bloodshed for once. Castiel healed Lisa and then wiped her and Ben’s memories of Dean. All of them. A complete brain scrubbing. And then Dean apologized for disrupting their life. I get that he was apologizing for returning after the Apocalypse, for putting them in danger, for trying to live a normal life and then leaving again. I get it all, but it was a dick move for Dean to make. I know Lisa and Ben (especially Ben) would have resisted the loss of Dean’s memory. Also, it was completely nonsensical. If the point was to protect Lisa and Ben from the baddies out there that want to use them as bait to capture Dean, wouldn’t it have made more sense to scrub Dean’s memories? Without memory of Dean, who will they call when demons or other baddies—who figure out that while the Braedens don’t remember or love Dean, that Dean still remembers and loves them—come a-callin’ again? Oy vey, talk about a gaping plot hole.
I guess I should have been a little more moved by the Lisa and Ben stuff, but those characters were so far gone from memory and show mythology that I didn’t care so much. It wasn’t until the demon was exorcised and Lisa was bleeding out that I was like “aww” and that came down entirely to Jensen’s performance as the freaked out, yet calm and in control man working to save the woman he loves but can never have. Jensen, as always, is a master of his craft. He was able to get across the complete heart ache he felt, but show the unfailing (although slightly cracked) Winchester control. It was far from a chick flick moment, but the tears Jensen summoned to waver dangerously in his eyes were the perfect emotional desert for Supernatural’s female fans. You have to wonder though… does Dean ever get a break? I like dark drama as much as the next girl, but one day, I’d like to see just a sliver of hope for these boys. Maybe that’ll come at the series finale.
Anyway… The pain of truly losing Lisa and Ben sets Dean up for a lot of angry emoting in early Season 7. In this episode, Sam calls his brother out for “running on whiskey coffee and whatever else you’re taking.” Interesting. I cannot recall the writers having ever made any allusions to the Winchesters taking anything, uh, non-medicinal until now. While Dean has always been a heavy drinker/ functional drunk, do you think it’s possible that Sera is hinting at a dark turn to Dean’s favorite coping mechanism?
Castiel seemed hell bent on making things better with Dean in this episode. He was not down with Crowley’s sinister kidnap and possession plan, going so far as attempting to add the Braedens to the No Touchy list. When that was not a possibility, he set out to rescue Dean’s one time family. Cas asked Dean a tough question which is three Seasons late in coming: “Shouldn’t trust run both ways?” Damn straight it should! Cas said the very things that I’ve been hollering at my BFF for a long ass time now: He always comes when Dean calls. He does everything Dean asks. And the one time Cas asks for a solid in return, Dean turns him down flat. I actually think that they were on their way to mending their friendship until Dean misinterprets the meaning of Castiel’s words for Castiel’s actual words. This is what Cas said: “I came to tell you that I will find Lisa and Ben and I will bring them back. [PAUSE] Stand behind me; the one time I ask.” Then Dean went all TeenageGirl!Dean on Cas and accused Cas of leveling the same “ransom” that Crowley used. Oy vey (again), that scene was such a heartbreaker for any fan of the Dean/Cas bromance. I loved the intensity of the exchange, played with such tension and restraint by Jensen and Misha.
This whole episode felt a bit… off to me. Perhaps because it was the first of a two-part Season finale. I expected it to be a suitable build up to the main course, for it to flow seamlessly into the meat and potatoes portion of the meal. But it didn’t; instead it felt like a standalone that was being smooshed in… just cuz. Like, the CW executives wanted a two-hour finale, but the writers had only prepared for a one-hour finale. Honestly, I would have preferred to see this final three line up: “Let It Bleed”, followed by “The Man Who Would Be King”, and finally “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. The flow would have made much more sense (especially in a one-two whammy situation). All in all, “Let It Bleed” was only passable as a finale lead-in.
Now, much like we expected Dean to go to Hell at the end of Season 3, I think it is safe to say that most of us expected the Great Wall of Sam to come down at the end of Season 6. Of course, I don’t think many (read: ANY) of us predictedCastiel being the thing that finally burst the wall… ooooh. I just came up with a theory. I’d be willing to bet good money that Death will be making a reappearance in Season 7. He said in Season 5 that he would be the one to reap God in the end. Maybe (oh god), Death will come to reap Cas. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I was surprised that Balthazar was unaware of Cas’s alliance with Crowley. I hadn’t specifically thought “oh, well, of course Balthazar knows about that” or anything, but for some reason, I thought it was a plan that the smarmy little angel could get behind. I was both impressed and saddened that he lied to the Winchesters to protect Castiel. Ugh, I hate my loyalties being divided like this! It’s like playing chess with yourself!
You have to give Balthazar props for summoning Castiel, who is in league with the President-Elect of Hell, to call him to account for his sins. If there is anyone Castiel should listen to, you’d think it’d be Balthazar, his trusted friend and fellow heavenly warrior. Even when Balthazar said he was on Castiel’s side, I figured that was simply lip service. I mean, come on, what angel could rightfully stand by and let Cas partner up with Crowley? Kudos to Balthazar for eventually going to the Winchesters to lend a grudging hand to stop his friend. He knew the risk he was taking—just like the much beloved and widely missed Gabriel knew the risk he took in Season 5.
I had heard whispers of a character death in the finale. I was nervous about it because I love all of the existing characters, even Crowley. I expected Raphael’s death (okay, didn’t love her at all), but I did not expect Balthazar’s. Once again like Gabriel, Balthazar was an unlikely angelic ally to the Winchesters, even if he did occasionally throw the boys curve balls. I will miss Sebastian Roche’s fantastic take on an angel gone hedonistic. His snark and eye rolls made Balthazar a character that came damn close to stealing every scene he was in. I will miss his witticisms and his unique way of challenging the Winchesters. Thank god we’ll still have him at conventions!
At the beginning of “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, I was super confused. I blame the aforementioned lack of seamless transition between episodes. The camera angles were disorienting and flashy, ending with abrupt stillness in Robin’s bar. (I did catch sight of Castle Storage, John Winchester’s old storage unit holding lots of hunting doo-dads and Sam’s junior soccer trophy.) After I realized that he was once again without his memory (a la Season Two’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”), I figured out what was going on. The “Bourne Identity” reference about waking up on a park bench and beating the crap out of two police officers made me laugh a little. Sam’s journey through the inner workings of his noggin’ was pretty interesting to watch, although creepy to watch Sam hunting himself. Jared managed, once again, to pull out a variety of Sams to display differing, archetypical versions of the Sam Winchester we know and love. I also enjoyed the murder board set up in the Nite Owl Motel, which took me back to Season One’s “Pilot” and the hunt for John Winchester. You know, I have actually missed RoboSam, and his cold and calculating way of taking care of business. RoboSam never even flinched from the task at hand when it came to killing another version of himself.
I’ll say this about the Great Wall of Sam collapsing… it was an ingenious move on Castiel’s part. He knew that Dean would have to pause in his search to keep Purgatory closed in order to care for his brother. It’s programed in Dean’s brain: Take care of Sammy. So yeah, it was kinda genius in an Evil Genius kind of way.
In my opinion, more time should have been given to the Sam that remembers Hell. Jared played it wonderfully, but I wanted a little more warning and begging our Sam to stay away from the memories. Basically, I wanted a look inside of Sam’s Hell. After he stabbed Hell!Sam, he was all staggery, but he made it from South Dakota to Kansas (the site of the showdown… it’s always Kansas) in time to watch Castiel go all Captain Planet. So… what happens now that the pieces are back together and Sam remembers his time in the Cage as well as his time as a cold-blooded hunter/murderer? The Sam story here was well-developed, but the ending was less than satisfactory. It quickly devolved into the Castiel/Crowley show at the end and became a goulash of themes that struck me as odd since this was supposed to be the Sam-centric episode. Also, what the ever lovin’ Hell? How can the writers (damn you, Kripke!) drop a ball like ‘oh hey, Sam remembers everything’ and then just walk away? Grrr… consider me very discontent over that. Heck, I might even write what my mother calls A Strongly Worded Letter.
As the finale wound up to its climax, we learned that Castiel was reneging on his deal with Crowley. Booyah. An angel no longer, that little bastard, he went back on a deal with the former King of the Cross Roads. What is there NOT to love about that irony? I loved how calm and firm Cas was, telling him “Flee or die.” Again I say, booyah.
I’m in love with the way Crowley turned the tables on Castiel and joined forces with Raphael. Talk about a Hail Mary play! I was apoplectic when the giant black cloud of demons overtook the angel sentries, raging on about how improbable (lol, I know) that was since angels can only be killed with an angel killing sword, but it slowly came to me. Ohhhhh, I thought, Raphael is with him, protecting the demons and killing Castiel’s guards. Also, let it be said that I was Shrieky McShriekpants over the Impala being tossed about (although I appreciated the send up to “Jurassic Park” in that as well as in the T-Rex puddle reference).
So, in a third shocker, Castiel had switched the Purgatory-tini (try with a wedge of lime and paper umbrella for a perfect summer cocktail!) with dog’s blood. Ha- freakin’-HA. Cut to a red faced Crowley and a super amped Castiel, former angel of the Lord. Misha Freakin’ Collins was as masterful as always. I could almost see him all puffed up like a blowfish in that final scene. He has finally reached his goal. He has at last found God… inside of himself. Yep, that sounded cheesy, but seriously, the change in Misha’s facial expressions, blinks and the squaring up of his shoulders smacked of confidence—or rather, over confidence. I loved how strong and sure he was, and that he had retained some of the sense of humor he’d learned from Dean (as was is evidenced by Castiel snapping Raphael into smithereens. By the by… Best.Death.EVER! Served the bitch right.).
I’ve gone back and watched Castiel-related Season 6 episodes and I’m just not catching any foreshadowing to the Castiel that has burst onto the scene in “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. It’s almost as if the producers decided mid-way through that Castiel should lose his damn mind and become the “new God”. That just doesn’t even make sense to me. It is so out of character for Cas. I mean, this is Cas for crap’s sake. He was so innocent and trusting, and notegomaniacal. Sure he was always quick to pull the ‘you can’t beat me, I’m an angel of the Lord, nana-nana-boo-boo’ routine, but it was him just stating facts, not being all high and mighty about it. I get how being filled to the brim with a million souls and feeling the sheer power coursing through your being would make a person/ angel lose their shit a little, but come on! I loved that Dean tried to reign Cas back in, as if all was forgiven even though Castiel had opened the door to Purgatory. Raphael was dead; mission accomplished. So what happens next? We didn’t see any winged or smoked baddies skulking around Castiel’s shoulders waiting for orders. Does that mean Cas opened Purgatory and everything inside is now contained within Cas… so there should be no monsters or baddies sneaking through Border Patrol?
Huh. Now that I think about it like that, it sort of makes sense. Okay, I apologize in advance for the Harry Potter reference. It’s like in The Deathly Hallows when Harry, Ron and Hermione are affected adversely by the necklace Horcrux. The Horcrux is evil and infects them, changes them. Well, ok, let’s call that the Horcrux Theory. If we apply that to the souls of Purgatory, which is reportedly filled with monsters of all persuasions, then it stands to reason those souls are making Cas go wonky in the head and bad. This is the explanation I am choosing to go with to get me through the long summer months.
My heart is breaking after this finale. My favorite character has become a dictator and enemy to the boys. His ego is bigger than Heaven, Earth and Purgatory combined. He thinks he has no family, and the angel sword won’t slay him. Whatever shall we do? Word on the street is that Misha Collins is not slated to be a regular on Season 7, but will instead be labeled a recurring guest star (that was his title in Season 4). I am concerned because recurring guest stars are the ones that are killed off (the obvious exception being Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer). I’m not ready to consider that, so instead, when Castiel demands “Bow down and profess your love to me, your Lord, or I shall destroy you” I will hit my knees and stay there until the Fall comes and puts me out of my misery.
Stay strong Supernatural fans. And see you in September.