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4.10 Heaven and Hell

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  • 4.10 Heaven and Hell

    Beautiful episode. All the wicked pain interlaced with a ribbon of grace. Couldn't have asked for anything more going into a seven week hiatus. JANUARY 15. That's pain.

    Okay let me be random for a minute. Catchphrase of the year, "You're confusing porn with reality." omg.

    I know I'm going to catch hell for this, but I'm really pleased at how Bobby not being in the episode allowed for such diversity in cast, actions, and dialogue. It was good to see the psychic again. As well as impressive to see that many women in a scene. Strong individualistic women.

    Hmmm, a million things swarming through my head. At last, the Winchesters visit KENTUCKY!!! Took them long enough but i couldn't have asked for a more perfect date and symbolic way.

    Also YAY for us finally seeing some action in the Impala! I'm so glad that Dean and Anna made a personal connection. I hope to see her again in another form. But while I'm thinking of it, I am so glad she was a redhead. We've seen so many young blondes and brunettes, I was beginning to wonder if we would ever see a bright redhead. It's good for Dean to have color in his life and not be so consumed with the light and dark.

    Oh and yay yay yay. So loved his talk with Anna about fathers. I'm really glad they brought this issue up again from 4.02.

    And the end. All I have to say is I knew it! I knew Dean was down there torturing souls. I mean I hate that it actually was true because I care for Dean. But being tortured, I knew that wouldn't haunt Dean. Torturing others, now that's something would torture him equally in return.

    And Sam, he has no clue. He always wants to talk things out but he can only say the most banal things. "You held out longer than anyone." What the hell? Why the heck would Dean believe the truth of that? It's obviously a false comfort. And the falseness digs the knife in deeper.

    Why can't Sam just be honest. Say, "I had no idea. I can't imagine the burden you are carrying." "or better yet, "Every day is a new day to start anew. Just like can't you can't be comforted by all the days you held out, you can't be held down by the shame of the days you didn't. You have to live today and tomorrow the best you can.

    Truly that's the point of how each day he was tortured to find himself whole again.

    I realize it takes a minute to come up with something. But a silent pause followed by something meaningful really helps. Blurting out the first trite thing you can think of is more likely to close off the person baring their emotions.

    Well, it's late, and I need some sleep, I'll have to be back tomorrow.

    Lydia made the punch!

  • #2
    I agree with you Lyn- this episode... wow. I was just blown away or uber-excited, maybe both. I kept screaming- this is so *bleeping* cool every nano-second.

    A few short thoughts-
    1. Action in the Impala- finally! I thought the same thing. What's more- Bad's Company- Ready for Love played in the background. When he was with Cassie in Route 666- She Brings Me Love was playing. Just thought that was neat.
    2. Color back in Dean's life- I was on the same wavelength with you there. About time a redhead showed up. I was getting sick of the blondes.
    3. The fathers talk.
    4. Anna/Dean's connection- so sweet but not sickly. I loved the way she told him she knew what he did, the look in on his face, the way he suttered, the emotions all over him, telling him to forgive himself. Dang.
    5. Same here about being tortured in hell thing- I didn't think it was that. I knew it was more because I felt something like that wouldn't deeply bother Dean. I had no idea what happened but I knew it was worse than that and it sure enough it was- he tortured souls. Poor Dean. Though I wasn't expecting him to tell Sam. I thought that would come much later. I wonder if we'll get a better picture of what exactly did Dean do? How did he torture the souls? Who souls were tortured?
    6. Sam's response- I wonder if he was just at loss for words. He didn't know what to say so he gave Dean false comfort. Either way- I don't think Dean would have been ready for real comfort.
    7. Dean's tears- wow! This is the most we've see him cry, within reason! I was right there crying with Dean. Jensen's acting range just amazes me.
    8. The minute Dean looked in the mirror at Anna and Ruby, the way he smirked- I knew what he was thinking- angel/demon, the irony. I love the joke.
    9. Anna/Angel- I just love how they went about with her character, her being a fallen angel just because she wanted to be human, how she ripped her grace, telling everyone to close their eyes, everything.
    10. Loved seeing the sassy psychic- regardless she's still has her personality and still will flirt.
    11. Castiel/Anna- was it me or did he have this werid look when Anna kissed Dean? What's up with the "we have a history" bit? Am I reading too much there?


    I am sure there are more thoughts. Will re-watch and re-watch and re-watch! Hurray for Turkey Day vacay!
    Last edited by Obsessed; 21-11-08, 12:58 PM.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
      And Sam, he has no clue. He always wants to talk things out but he can only say the most banal things. "You held out longer than anyone." What the hell? Why the heck would Dean believe the truth of that? It's obviously a false comfort. And the falseness digs the knife in deeper.

      Why can't Sam just be honest. Say, "I had no idea. I can't imagine the burden you are carrying." "or better yet, "Every day is a new day to start anew. Just like can't you can't be comforted by all the days you held out, you can't be held down by the shame of the days you didn't. You have to live today and tomorrow the best you can.

      Truly that's the point of how each day he was tortured to find himself whole again.

      I realize it takes a minute to come up with something. But a silent pause followed by something meaningful really helps. Blurting out the first trite thing you can think of is more likely to close off the person baring their emotions.
      Well, I think that it's just very, very human to be overwhelmed and respond with the first comfort that springs to your mind. Nobody is prepared for such a confession with a calm mind and the right words to say. Especially with Sam visibly shaken up and crying himself, it's not to be expected for him to have soothing words ready. I rather like Sam's habit to let his brother be and give him space, knowing that Dean isn't ready to be comforted in any way and no matter what he'd say in that moment, it wouldn't help Dean in the slightest. Remember Dean's rejection of comfort when Sam tries to offer it to him in Something Wicked.

      Also, it's not as if this wouldn't go both ways. Dean's comforting routine for Sam mostly consists of stating platitudes as well: 'We can't save everybody.' 'Everything will be okay.' 'I'm calling do-over.' 'We just keep doing what we're doing.' That's not a criticism, I can totally relate to that. The time for healing words and gestures comes later, when the first shock and wave of emotions is overcome. I really can't find it in me to blame Sam for not finding some appropriate or insightful words of wisdom in the face of a tragedy like that.

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      • #4
        I'm sorry, but yes, I'm going to hold them to different standards of responses since they are different people. Sam is the one who is always so gungho excited to talk to everyone and have them express emotions and feelings and to try to encourage them. When his brother finally makes a confession hopefully he realizes how inadequate words really are.

        Anyway, Dean at least has platitudes. Sam's wasn't one, it was trying to state a fact when there was no evidence. It would have been better to say, "No one would have expected you to hold out more" or "You did a lot." Those are true statements.

        Anyway it's about listening. Sam spends too much energy in wanting to say something to make it better. When it's the listening and silent reassurance that I'm here with you.

        Lydia made the punch!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
          I'm sorry, but yes, I'm going to hold them to different standards of responses since they are different people. Sam is the one who is always so gungho excited to talk to everyone and have them express emotions and feelings and to try to encourage them. When his brother finally makes a confession hopefully he realizes how inadequate words really are.

          Anyway, Dean at least has platitudes. Sam's wasn't one, it was trying to state a fact when there was no evidence. It would have been better to say, "No one would have expected you to hold out more" or "You did a lot." Those are true statements.

          Anyway it's about listening. Sam spends too much energy in wanting to say something to make it better. When it's the listening and silent reassurance that I'm here with you.
          Yes, Sam encourages Dean to talk, just like Dean encourages Sam to talk. Whenever Sam is in distress, Dean quickly overcomes his 'no chick flick moment' and tries to get Sam to open up. So, no I don't hold them to different standards. I think Sam usually feels better when he opened up to Dean about what's bothering him, no matter if his brother finds eloquent words or not and he hopes he can reciprocate when Dean talks. It's about trust and relief.

          I don't think there's such huge difference between "No one would have expected you to hold out more." and "30 years is longer than anyone would". It's about Dean being strong for holding out so long. Nothing more, nothing less. It's not about making a factual statement, but about the reassurance that Dean did what he could, just phrased differently.

          And you can't accuse Sam of not listening. Because he does. He is reassuring by just being there and not judging his brother. Dean already said that Sam can't make it better, so when he opens up here it's not about reassurance, but about trust and not carrying the burden alone. I don't think Sam thinks he can make it better. One weak attempt at trying to reassure Dean doesn't devaluate Sam's silent acceptance and grief at what Dean went through.

          Oh, I forgot this:
          Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
          But being tortured, I knew that wouldn't haunt Dean.
          I am not sure if you really believe this. You really think that being tortured for 30 years would be something that wouldn't haunt a person?!? That he can just brush under the rug, that he can put aside? People break under torture every day and nobody comes away from that without being completely messed up. That hasn't got anything to do with strength or being able to compartmentalize, you just don't walk away from something like that unchanged, you just don't.
          Last edited by galathea; 21-11-08, 04:23 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by galathea View Post
            I don't think there's such huge difference between "No one would have expected you to hold out more." and "30 years is longer than anyone would". It's about Dean being strong for holding out so long. Nothing more, nothing less. It's not about making a factual statement, but about the reassurance that Dean did what he could, just phrased differently.
            Maybe it's the language difference. All I know is that I would feel like a little kid being placated if I was told something similar. In my heart it wouldn't feel true and without any logic or data to back it up I couldn't believe it to have any truth to therefore give me comfort.


            The truth is that Sam said something he has no basis on except that he looks up to his brother and believes in him.

            For all we know Ruby held out a 1000 years which is why she is different. And it would explain why all the other demons hate her, because her strength to resist reminds them of their weakness.


            And you can't accuse Sam of not listening. Because he does. He is reassuring by just being there and not judging his brother. Dean already said that Sam can't make it better, so when he opens up here it's not about reassurance, but about trust and not carrying the burden alone. I don't think Sam thinks he can make it better. One weak attempt at trying to reassure Dean doesn't devaluate Sam's silent acceptance and grief at what Dean went through.
            I think Sam rushes in with words when he needs to listen first. Talk first, listen second. When he needs to listen, understand, then talk.

            Maybe if he'd paused, Dean might have gotten more off of his chest. However, once Sam said something, Dean had to find courage to say more. Dean doesn't want to let his little brother down, he wants to Sam to have his hero big brother (for Sam's sake, not as much his). Sam's immediate assumption that Dean had done more than anyone had to indicate to Dean that Sam still needed that hope.

            Lydia made the punch!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
              Maybe it's the language difference. All I know is that I would feel like a little kid being placated if I was told something similar. In my heart it wouldn't feel true and without any logic or data to back it up I couldn't believe it to have any truth to therefore give me comfort.


              The truth is that Sam said something he has no basis on except that he looks up to his brother and believes in him.

              For all we know Ruby held out a 1000 years which is why she is different. And it would explain why all the other demons hate her, because her strength to resist reminds them of their weakness.
              You really think that in this moment of pain it really mattered at all what Sam said, the exact wording, the exact phrase? You really think Dean rationally comprehended the words Sam muttered, thought them over and dismissed them as wrong? I think no matter what Sam would have said, it wouldn't have changed a thing. When Sam said back in Something Wicked, 'but you were just a kid', he told the truth but Dean wasn't willing to accept that either, feeling too guilty to accept any kind of absolution and this is certainly much worse.

              Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
              I think Sam rushes in with words when he needs to listen first. Talk first, listen second. When he needs to listen, understand, then talk.

              Maybe if he'd paused, Dean might have gotten more off of his chest. However, once Sam said something, Dean had to find courage to say more. Dean doesn't want to let his little brother down, he wants to Sam to have his hero big brother (for Sam's sake, not as much his). Sam's immediate assumption that Dean had done more than anyone had to indicate to Dean that Sam still needed that hope.
              You said the same thing back after Long Distance Call and I still completely disagree with you. Sam does silently listen for quite a while, only interfering when Dean stops and even after Sam said his line, Dean continues and is perfectly honest with Sam about how he feels. I don't think you give Dean enough credit if you assume that just because Sam throws in a useless but heartfelt reply, Dean closes off immediately. He doesn't! The moment he decides to finally open up to his brother, he will say his piece and he won't change his mind just because Sam doesn't say the 'right thing', he's more mature than that. At least that's how I see it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by galathea View Post
                Oh, I forgot this: I am not sure if you really believe this. You really think that being tortured for 30 years would be something that wouldn't haunt a person?!? That he can just brush under the rug, that he can put aside? People break under torture every day and nobody comes away from that without being completely messed up. That hasn't got anything to do with strength or being able to compartmentalize, you just don't walk away from something like that unchanged, you just don't.
                Hope you don't mind me commenting on this since this is directly towards Lyn. Obviously no one would walk away from something like this unchanged- whether it was for one year or 30 years. I am sure being tortured like that was brutual- the whole process of slicing and dicing, then returning whole, rejecting the deal every freaking day. Yikes.

                My guess Lyn was thinking there was much more to it than that. I mean when you think about the whole concept of hell- of course its pretty obvious someone is gonna get tortured. The season has been nothing but surprises- dark angels, fallen angels, Lilth's plan to open the seals- its been layer upon layer always surprising us left and right. The theme has always been "there is something bigger than this" So I am assuming Lyn was thinking in this manner- what if Dean wasn't only tortured? What could possibly got him so afraid of hell, what made him refused to talk to Sam?

                If Dean was just only tortured, nothing more and didn't torture souls himself- I think he would have been less wounded. He would still carry that heavy burden of being in hell for 40 years but the burden wouldn't be as hard to carry. So remembering the screaming souls he tortured for ten years, that just makes the weight even heavier.

                I sense something more went on in Hell, then just the torture part as well. I had no idea what else happened but I knew from the look on Dean face, how he refused to talk to Sam, his fear against the Casitel and Alistair- it had to be much more than being tortured. When Anna told him she knew what he 'did' in Hell- that was my answer. This was the extra weight he had strapped on his back.

                Okay I am done. Am I right Lyn?
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                  Okay let me be random for a minute. Catchphrase of the year, "You're confusing porn with reality." omg.
                  too be more accurate it was 'you're confusing porn with reality - again.' THE FUNNIEST PART OF THE SENTENCE WAS AGAIN! I loved that line.

                  I also liked the ending scene with Dean finally spilling his guts (no pun intended).

                  However, and I know I'm in the minority here, I just did not care for the turn that this episode took. I didn't like that the girl was a 'fallen' angel. There's one word for that - demon... That's what demons are - angels who fell with Lucifer. So, it kinda urked me that they have a gray area in this, which hey artistic liberties and all, but I don't like it. I much prefer Angels/good/white. Demons/bad/black. Without the muddled gray. That's what the humans are for.

                  I also found it a bit sick that Dean's screwing an Angel while Sam's screwing a demon.... ick.

                  And I also found it unbelievable that an angel could be re-angelized after committing a sin. Please.

                  So ok, I didn't care for the storyline of this episode. I did like how it ended though, with Dean and Sam finally having a heart to heart, so I'll get past the rather silly writing in the middle and the ridiculously gratuitous sex scene. I hope that the show doesn't start to go into the realm of the silly with these angel storylines, because I'm afraid that that could mean the end to a really (normally) incredible show.

                  And now, don't throw things at me...

                  Originally posted by Obsessed View Post
                  I sense something more went on in Hell, then just the torture part as well. I had no idea what else happened but I knew from the look on Dean face, how he refused to talk to Sam, his fear against the Casitel and Alistair- it had to be much more than being tortured. When Anna told him she knew what he 'did' in Hell- that was my answer. This was the extra weight he had strapped on his back.
                  Well, what I took away from that was that they were grooming Dean to become a demon himself, like Ruby was once human and then turned demon after a long period in hell.
                  Last edited by LRae12; 22-11-08, 05:42 AM.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by galathea View Post
                    Oh, I forgot this: I am not sure if you really believe this. You really think that being tortured for 30 years would be something that wouldn't haunt a person?!? That he can just brush under the rug, that he can put aside? People break under torture every day and nobody comes away from that without being completely messed up. That hasn't got anything to do with strength or being able to compartmentalize, you just don't walk away from something like that unchanged, you just don't.
                    I try to be brief in my posts or I would never get anything posted. I cannot explain every feeling I have. I try to pick a core point and bring it to the forefront.

                    I am not trying to trivialize the experience of being tortured. That's an obvious pain. I'm trying to emphasize that mental torture is more scarring than physical.

                    If I had to imagine hell, it wouldn't just be me having things DONE TO ME, it would include me being forced TO DO things I didn't want to do. It's one thing to resist, its other thing to submit.

                    I think only having to see horrible things or have horrible physical things done to me is too easy (on a hell scale). In those one could manage to preserve their personal identity since it isn't under specific attack.

                    Dean was in hell, his body did not experience those physical tortures. Only his mind preserves those memories. I liken it to an experience of a dream (only a mega nightmare of an almost infinite length). I believe the mental traumas are what have to be most remembered while the visuals and pain would dull in the light of day.

                    I do not see SN as a reveal for the horrors of the real wars that are happening in the world today. I perceive SN as being symbolic for normal life and its struggles. So likening it to real war and POW really makes me uncomfortable as I don't see the show as politically charged.



                    Originally posted by Obsessed View Post
                    Hope you don't mind me commenting on this since this is directly towards Lyn. Obviously no one would walk away from something like this unchanged- whether it was for one year or 30 years. I am sure being tortured like that was brutual- the whole process of slicing and dicing, then returning whole, rejecting the deal every freaking day. Yikes.

                    My guess Lyn was thinking there was much more to it than that. I mean when you think about the whole concept of hell- of course its pretty obvious someone is gonna get tortured. The season has been nothing but surprises- dark angels, fallen angels, Lilth's plan to open the seals- its been layer upon layer always surprising us left and right. The theme has always been "there is something bigger than this" So I am assuming Lyn was thinking in this manner- what if Dean wasn't only tortured? What could possibly got him so afraid of hell, what made him refused to talk to Sam?

                    If Dean was just only tortured, nothing more and didn't torture souls himself- I think he would have been less wounded. He would still carry that heavy burden of being in hell for 40 years but the burden wouldn't be as hard to carry. So remembering the screaming souls he tortured for ten years, that just makes the weight even heavier.

                    I sense something more went on in Hell, then just the torture part as well. I had no idea what else happened but I knew from the look on Dean face, how he refused to talk to Sam, his fear against the Casitel and Alistair- it had to be much more than being tortured. When Anna told him she knew what he 'did' in Hell- that was my answer. This was the extra weight he had strapped on his back.

                    Okay I am done. Am I right Lyn?
                    That's a fairly good assessment of my thought process here. *impressed* It's my nature to look beyond face value, and I'm often awaiting some reveal. Not that it's a good thing, I'm wrong at least as often as I'm right. It's just how I think.

                    I mean heck yeah torture is scary. I was traumatized for a week at least after having my tooth pulled with anesthetic. I couldn't imagine an hour, much less a year, or 30 years. And 30 years is a long time! I know I can't remember every day I've ever had. And saying that, Dean turns 30 this January. Random coincidence that's how long he withstood torture?

                    And great list you had earlier too Beth! I particularly want to say how much I think I saw what you saw about Castiel and Anna and Dean. There was something there, but I haven't had a chance to rewatch it.

                    Originally posted by LRae
                    too be more accurate it was 'you're confusing porn with reality - again.' THE FUNNIEST PART OF THE SENTENCE WAS AGAIN! I loved that line.
                    My bad! Yes, AGAIN makes everything funnier! I'm thinking I've heard that before, perhaps Chandler to Joey? I haven't seen Friends in so long.

                    Originally posted by LRae12
                    However, and I know I'm in the minority here, I just did not care for the turn that this episode took. I didn't like that the girl was a 'fallen' angel. There's one word for that - demon... That's what demons are - angels who fell with Lucifer. So, it kinda urked me that they have a gray area in this, which hey artistic liberties and all, but I don't like it. I much prefer Angels/good/white. Demons/bad/black. Without the muddled gray. That's what the humans are for.
                    I felt they took this straight from the "City of Angels" movie. An angel can choose to "fall" to earth and become human, complete with the rushing a million mph to the ground. Though being born as a soul in a baby was a unique interesting twist.

                    I'm glad you brought this up about how you didnt like it. It makes me have to evaluate why I do like that Angels have this choice to join in humanity. Must ponder.
                    Originally posted by LRae12
                    And I also found it unbelievable that an angel could be re-angelized after committing a sin. Please.
                    LOL! I was like OMG! They can go back?!!! SN breaks all the rules!!! So it was immediate argh followed just as quickly with being impressed that we've got some new territory here.

                    Originally posted by LRae12
                    Well, what I took away from that was that they were grooming Dean to become a demon himself, like Ruby was once human and then turned demon after a long period in hell.
                    I agree, though I thought it's been said that everyone in hell becomes a demon eventually. I may have misunderstood or read too much into something Ruby said last year. So I have to wonder Dean was particularly special or it was just a common psychological trick of demons to say that to tear away at a person's self?

                    Lydia made the punch!

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                    • #11
                      Wow what an episode! I loved it even more than last week's but then again that might not be that surprising seeing that "Heaven and Hell" was so Dean-centric.

                      Needless to say, the last scene totally broke my heart into tiny jagged pieces. I like my Dean angsty but his anguish and despair were almost too much to bear and I cursed the day again when Kripke decided to actually send Dean to hell. However, even though it was painful to watch, to see Dean suffer like that, I'm still glad the writers included this scene in this episode, that Dean managed to open up to Sam. Personally I needed some big emotional breakdown from Dean, I did not like how he talked about hell in Wishful Thinking, how unaffected he seemed to be, that seemed very anti-climatic and made no sense to me. However, knowing now what Dean went through in hell, I also find it quite hard to believe that he remembered all this from the start and did not show more signs of emotional distress. But maybe he didn't remember all of it right away but it came gradually to him (at least I hope so).

                      It is so much in character that Dean who is usually the protector and saviour of innocent people would suffer so much knowing that he tortured souls in hell. My heart broke for Dean when he said that 4 months on earth were more like 40 years in hell. That is exactly what I have been afraid of. I thought it was really mean and untrue of Uriel to say that Dean broke easy. He resisted for 30 years and that hardly qualifies as breaking easy. As for Sam's reaction, I can't really blame him for reacting the way he did. I mean how do you react to something so huge? Sam knows that he cannot comfort Dean, that nothing he says will make Dean feel better. So all Sam can do is just be there for his brother and listen to him as Dean opens up to him. When Dean said that he wished he didn't feel anything, I was crying so hard (well I was pretty much sobbing through the entire scene). The fact that he rather wants to be numb, I just don't have words. Jensen once again gave a truly flawless performance!

                      Besides this fantastic last scene, this episode had so much good stuff, I hardly know where to begin. First off, Anna. I have to say at first I found the whole she is a fallen angel thing not that convincing but then when she talked about it with Dean and listed the advantages of humanity and the disadvantages of being an angel to him, I was warming up to the idea. I like the idea of an angel who wanted to think for herself, who was sick and tired of always following orders of her father (aka God). I loved how Dean could relate to that. I found everything Anna told Dean about the other angels and God very interesting, especially the fact that only 4 angels have actually seen God. This raises many interesting questions, for example does God really exist or are those 4 angels making him up and just telling everyone that God exists? Intriguing stuff!

                      I love that Dean and Anna made such a connection. Yay for Dean getting some loving! And in his beloved Impala! If anyone deserves to have some comfort sex, it's Dean. We haven't seen Dean have sex for quite a while now and personally I'm glad that the show occasionally remembers that Sam and Dean are not just hunters and protectors but also young men with a healthy sex drive. Granted their recent sexual partners might be a tad unusual but Sam and Dean are unsual as well and they lead unusual lives. I'm certainly not gonna deny them a little physical pleasure, whereever they might find it. Their lives are hard enough as it is. Of course it is interesting that now both Sam and Dean have had sex with a supernatural being, Sam with a demon and Dean with a (former at the time but still) angel. The two sex scenes couldn't have been more different though. Sam's sex with Ruby was full of rage, despair and self-loathing, while Dean's sex with Anna was full of tenderness and comfort.

                      Ruby keeps intriguing me and this episode really delivered in that department. I was quite certain that she went behind the boys' back to Alistair but then it turned out that she was only executing Sam's clever plan. So far trusting each other has paid off for both Sam and Ruby but I still don't really trust her, she could still be working her own agenda. I have to say though that I love Dean's new attitude towards Ruby. The way he helped her up after she was knocked down by the angels was almost gallant, almost as if he saw her as woman and not just a demon. Also, there were several looks of understanding between the two throughout the episode. Of course Dean can't help himself and also makes several cracks about or to Ruby but the difference in his attitude towards her is palpable.

                      There was one thing that confused me in this episode and maybe somebody here can explain it to me. When Ruby told Sam that he knew how to beef up his powers again and Sam said that he would not do that again, what were the two of them talking about? About having sex (that having sex with Ruby somehow increases Sam's powers)? I don't really believe that btw. Or were they talking about something else entirely? A dark ritual perhaps that Sam had to perform in order to get his powers going? Something that he did not tell Dean about in last week's episode? I think it's possible and if it's true, if my theory is correct, I'm dying to find out what it was.

                      Another thing that made me curious is that strange look Castiel gave Anna and Dean when they were kissing. Was it just surprise or was it jealousy and envy? Castiel saying that they have a history together certainly pointed into that direction. I hope we will find out some day what exactly that history together entailed.

                      It was so great to see Pamela on the show again! I love that even though she is blind now, her personality hasn't changed much, she still has the same sense of humour and the same sassy attitude. I also liked that we got to see her tattoo again just for a second there, nice continuity, show!

                      So overall I really loved this episode, even if it was painful to watch at times. Definitely a great episode to take into such a long hiatus!

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                      • #12
                        It's the first time since S1 that Kripke wrote a script in the middle of the season (he stuck with writing the season openers and the finales over the last couple of years), so I had high expectations for this episode, because I usually love his writing, but unfortunately I can't say that my expectations for Heaven And Hell were met. I had a lot of problems with the episode, some of them more related to general concerns, others derived from the plot itself, hence my review starts off with a short general section and then continues with the actual episode review. So, here we go!

                        Okay, I have to get this off my chest first and now is as good a time as any. Please feel free to just skip the next 5 paragraphs, as they are more directed towards a general analysis of the S4 character arcs for Sam and Dean. A couple of thoughts that I partially brought up in earlier reviews already, but were reinforced by this week's episode.

                        The way this season dealt (or better not dealt) with the consequences of Dean's stay in hell is a massive disappointment for me, and I feel that the whole storyline of Dean's death was cheapened, if Dean's confession in Heaven And Hell was the climax of it. After Dean admitted in Wishful Thinking that he remembers hell, I hoped that we subsequently get at least some signs of Dean slowly being eroded from the inside out, suffering from his memories, struggling to keep on going, but there wasn't any more strain on his character visible than before. Apparently we are indeed meant to believe that Dean remembered hell all along and just deceived Sam (and us) the whole time, and that jut doesn't work for me.

                        Dean went to hell for his brother. He suffered through the subjective equivalent of 30 years of torture. He broke under the pressure and pain and became a torturer himself. And he comes back from that and all he has is nightmares? Dean admitted that the torture broke him and nobody lives with these kind of memories and is as calm, confident and well adjusted as Dean was all season. For all intents and purposes Dean should have been a complete wreck after this experience and I find it hard to accept on behalf of Dean's character that the writers seem willing to just sweep these consequences under the rug.

                        It's the first time in the show that I feel detached from Dean's storyline as a result of how his story was told. In S1 we caught glimpses of Dean's vulnerability beneath his ****iness, in S2 we saw Dean messed up and buckling under his burdens, in S3 Jensen was allowed to show that Dean's carefree attitude was a mask he wore for his brother's sake, and this emotional build-up always resulted in a cathartic breakdown for Dean as a logical consequence. In S4 this emotional build-up to Dean's struggle was practically non-existent and the bits we did get (nightmares, sleeping problems) were not consistent with the magnitude of what happened to him. So, Dean's confession in Whishful Thinking and his subsequent breakdown in Heaven And Hell had no anchor in his characterisation up to that point. We are told that Dean was suffering, but it wasn't shown, and that's a huge flaw in this particular storyline for me.

                        As a matter of fact, I feel that Dean's time in hell had a deeper impact on Sam's storyline than on Dean's so far, and maybe that's why I feel more connected to Sam this season. For the first time ever since S1, Sam's storyline flows more smoothly than Dean's for me, despite the fact that most episodes this season were from Dean's point of view. Sam's initial detachment from his brother, his guardedness around Dean and his gradual reacceptance and rebonding with his sibling, combined with his struggle with his powers and his growing independence, made for a compelling and mostly consistent development of his character. We were allowed to have insight in Sam's changes right from the start and even if we didn't know his whole story, it was easy to read his character from his behaviour, which made I Know What You Did Last Summer such a satisfying experience. I am very grateful for that, because I felt Sam was neglected over the last 2 seasons, but I would have preferred if for once both character arcs were equally well developed.

                        I know my expectation of Dean's storyline for this season was formed by Kripke's statement that Dean will be a prisoner of war coming home from his worst nightmare, unable to reconnect to his former life, because of his horrific experiences, and we have seen nothing of the sorts and that left me disorientated. Pre-formed expectations are surely a problem, but I don't doubt that I would have felt the same way about Dean's development this season without them. At the ChicagoCon last weekend it was revealed that Kripke assumed S4 will be the last season of Supernatural and therefore moved the mytharc forward quickly, in order to be able to wrap the story up with the S4 finale and maybe Dean's story got lost in the demands of the bigger picture. Whatever the reason why this plot was handled the way it was, it leaves me a tad disillusioned. I assume, I will get over my disappointment sooner or later, obviously depending to a degree on how the season will move on from this point.

                        Anyway, putting all these thoughts aside, I'll turn to the review for Heaven And Hell now and try to analyse it with a more open mindset:

                        This midseason two-parter was obviously all about building parallels. The parallels between Sam and Dean, Ruby and Anna, demons and angels. Both Sam and Dean lived through hell without each other and hit their darkest hour while being separated. Both committed acts out of desperation that put them down on the road to becoming evil, Sam by using his demon blood, Dean by participating in the torture of souls, and those memories haunt them to the present day. Both Ruby and Anna are different from other demons or angels, both banned from their own kind out of their own volition for breaking the rules and siding with humans. Both demons and angels act on faith alone, just as demons have never seen Lucifer (Sin City), angels have never seen God. The barriers between good and evil seem to disintegrate more and more, leaving one huge grey area.

                        Now, while I am a big fan of the parallels in the show, and I do love the ones they build-up in with this two-parter, Heaven And Hell as an episode in itself had too many characters and plotlines crammed into it and didn't manage to explore them with the care they deserved and consequentially lost focus of the brothers, especially Dean. The episode felt rushed to me and didn't provide enough room to deal with Dean's hell-related fears and secrets in a satisfactory manner. Dean's storyline was touched upon in various scenes, but overall it was buried in the plot around Anna, the angels and the demons. As a result, I felt an emotional disconnect from Dean's storyarc when the final scene came around and it was only salvaged by Jensen's outstanding acting and his ability to pull the viewer into Dean's frame of mind. Last week's episode managed to stay focused on Sam's storyline despite all other plot elements, and I just wished they had delivered something similar for Dean.

                        Sam: "Dude! Reality. Porn."
                        Dean: "You call this reality?"


                        With Sam and Dean being busy fighting off heaven and hell, there was obviously not a lot of time for meaningful Sam and Dean interaction throughout the episode, but it still held some poignant moments of their brotherly bond. I loved Sam's instant murderous reaction to the angel's threat of throwing Dean back into hell, willing to kill the angels before he allows them to lay hand on his brother. Dean's baffled expression at Sam's readiness to act out against the very creatures he considered a sign of salvation not long ago was priceless. His brother's safety tops God and angels any day for Sam and since we saw how losing Dean destroyed Sam, his reaction spoke as much of self-preservation as of love.

                        Sam's position of 'my brother first, the rest of the world later' was mirrored in Dean's decision to sell out Anna to the angels in exchange for Sam's life, and while it may have been part of the larger plan to bring the angels and demons together, there's still a true sentiment behind that decision. Uriel was right in his assessment that it only needs the right pressure to break someone and in Dean's case that weak point is Sam, always has been and always will be. I have to admit that I always expected that part of Dean's torture in hell would be centered around Sam, knowing that it would inflict the most psychological pain on him and provided the easiest way to break Dean's will. I wonder if Dean would have held out for 30 years if they had used Sam against him instead of physical torture.

                        Another poignant affirmation of how deeply Sam and Dean reconnected over the last couple of episodes was shown in Sam's unhesitating refusal of allowing Ruby to manipulate him into using his powers again. It's clear that in their last confrontation Sam was no match for Alistair, but Ruby's words insinuated that Sam could defeat him, if he took his powers a step further. Sam turns her down though and I think that's a result of Dean's returning influence over him. Dean stopped being completely hostile when it comes to Sam's powers and Sam in return allowed his brother back in, even willing to trust him with the darkness that consumed Sam over the summer. I love that Dean reciprocated Sam's trust in the end by opening up to him about his time in hell.

                        Anna: "Every emotion, Dean, even the bad ones. It's why I fell. It's why I'd give anything no to have to go back. Anything."
                        Dean: "Feelings are overrated, if you ask me."


                        I liked the way Dean bonded with Anna and how the episode used Anna's appreciation for life, human emotions and sensual experiences to mirror and at the same time contrast Dean's own attitude. On the one hand, Dean's own zest for life and the enjoyment he usually draws from little things, like sex, food or riding in his car with his brother at his side, was reflected in Anna's wish to exchange the numb existence of an angel for humanity. On the other hand, Dean carries the burden of feeling too much, the things he experienced in hell weighing him down, making him wish for not being able to feel anything at all and that's reflected in his appreciation for the detachment of the angel's existence.

                        Their mutual frustration over unknowable fathers, who demand obedience without questioning, who are closed off and inaccessible to their children, forcing them on the road constantly, while they long for a home, was poignant and believable as well. Anna's feeling that she doesn't deserve to be saved, because she disobeyed and failed God by committing the biggest crime imaginable for her kind, resonated with Dean's own feelings of guilt for committing acts in hell he finds unforgivable. Dean never deemed himself worthy to be saved in the first place, how much worse must he feel with the burden of his guilt. Dean's broken admission that he won't, can't talk about hell was heart-wrenching and I loved Anna's insistence that he needs to forgive himself and gently tried to push Dean into confiding with his brother and accept his comfort.

                        These parallels between Anna and Dean were drawn very nicely and lead to a real connection between the characters, so it wasn't surprising that it translated into a romantic relationship. The sex scene between Anna and Dean was obviously set up as a contrast to Sam and Ruby's scene last week, a tender, gentle and life affirming act, based on mutual affection, where Sam and Ruby were desperate, rough and destructive. While the scene itself bordered on too soppy, but bearable, it was in the end completely ruined for me by the cheesy Titanic shout-out, with the hand against the foggy glass. While I assume that it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek it just really pushed the whole scene over the edge for me.

                        Sam: "Anna is an innocent girl."
                        Castiel: "She is far from innocent!"


                        As a general idea, I loved that Anna turned out to be an angel who had fallen in order to become human. Her basic storyline reminded me of one of my favourite german movies Wings Of Desire, which, sadly, was made into the incredibly cheesy and boring american remake City Of Angels. Anyway, Wings Of Desire is about the angels Damiel and Cassiel, who walk amongst humankind, invisible, observing, unable to directly interfere with people's lives but capable to provide comfort and courage to people who suffer. When Damiel falls in love with a trapeze artist, he decides to trade his immortality for humanity to experience the full range of human emotions and sensuality. The tragic of these characters of course lies in the fact that there's no going back and that they have to live with being fallen from God's grace forever. It's a very poetic movie and so I had very positive associations to that twist in Anna's story.

                        Unfortunately the potential beauty of the storyline was tainted for me by Kripke's ridiculously corny idea to translate the angel's fall into meteors, magical trees and mystical pregnancies, when there wasn't really any need for these kind of far-fetched plot points. Anna could've been adopted or simply exist, without forcing a completely human background. Also, the fact that fallen angels can return to their angelic status by reuniting with their 'grace', just cheapens the gravity of the choice to fall in the first place. The whole grace plotline really made me cringe and a simpler approach to Anna's back story would have serviced her character a lot better in my opinion.

                        As a side-effect, Anna's story also unnecessarily complicated the mytharc as it becomes less and less clear, where to draw a line. Anna is a fallen angel and she became human. Lucifer is a fallen angel as well, but since he hated humans, it's hardly imaginable that he fell by ripping out his grace and become a human. So, was Lucifer's fall different? And if it was, why? Also, Anna mentions that angels have no choice, but her own story defies her words. At the moment I am not sure if they opened a can of worms here, that sooner or later will tangle up the mytharc in inconsistencies. While it's probably intended to blur the lines, I personally would prefer a clearer distinction, because if everything is grey, choices and alliances become too random for my tastes.

                        Lastly, I hoped that the angel plot of this two-parter would move the Winchester plot forward, in terms of revealing (or at least giving new clues) what Sam and Dean's roles are in the bigger scheme of things. But we are none the wiser why the angels rescued Dean, if he has a specific task beyond taking care of Sam or why he was being tested by God a couple of weeks back. I just prefer the angel storyline to be rooted in Sam and Dean and Heaven And Hell lost sight of that connection for me.

                        Dean: "Where's your boss?"
                        Uriel: "Castiel? He's not here. You see, he has this weakness. He likes you."


                        Despite the problems I had with Anna's overall story, I still think the angel storyline is pretty strong and that's mostly the merit of Castiel and Uriel, which keep to fascinate me. It doesn't hurt either that both are portrayed by excellent actors, who believably sell their characters. Anyway, Uriel and Castiel's different attitudes are interesting. Uriel obviously has nothing but contempt for humans and is bordering on blasphemy. He enjoys physical violence as much as smiting, leaving no doubt that in his mind humankind needs to be put in its place. In the light of Dean's admission that he tortured souls in hell, Uriel's mistrust towards him becomes a new edge, as it must be humiliating for him to accept orders from a human, who has fallen that far. Dean siding with a fallen angel and a demon certainly doesn't help matters where Uriel is concerned.

                        Castiel on the other hand has a more compassionate nature, not only towards humankind but also towards Anna, as his genuine regret about being ordered to kill her clearly shows. Similarly, despite knowing what Dean had done in hell, Castiel feels for Dean's struggles, appreciates him as a person and doesn't resent to follow Dean's lead as long as it doesn't stand in conflict with God's orders. The doubts and questions Castiel expressed at the end of It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester showed in his less forceful approach to Dean and Anna, especially if compared to Uriel. It just makes me wonder if Castiel, just like Anna, would be willing to disobey and take the fall himself, should the doubts ever become too overwhelming.

                        Alistair: "A demon protecting an angel? We really must revoke your membership."
                        Ruby: "Look, I know I am not employee of the month, but this, I never wanted to get in the middle of this."


                        I won't go much into Ruby, since I already elaborated on my opinion about her in my review about last week's episode, only so much, her continuous help for the boys does nothing to alleviate my suspicions towards her overall goals. I actually hoped that she would sell out the Winchesters when she met Alistair or that we would at least gain new insight in her, since it was one of the few scenes where she actually interacts with someone other than the boys. The fact that we can't take anything she says to Sam and Dean at face value, makes it so hard to read her and this would have been a good opportunity to show her from a different angle. Alas, since her meeting with Alistair was a ploy, we didn't really learn anything new about her.

                        While the scene with Alistair torturing Ruby felt contrived, I think it was meant to illustrate what Dean is taking about, when he refers to enduring and applying torture in hell later. Although personally I didn't really need the visual reminder and would have preferred if they went without that scene. In any case, I wonder why a demon as powerful as Alistair, who proved to be invulnerable not only to demon killing devices but also to angels, would choose to follow Lilith instead of taking over the leading position himself. For all that we hear about Lilith's power, she remains suspiciously absent and her absence is easily interpreted as avoidance and cowardice.

                        Dean: "How I feel? This, inside me. I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy. I wish I couldn't feel a damn thing."

                        Last but not least, a look at the most important scene of this episode. First off, the set-up for Dean's confession scene was beautiful, very reminiscent of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, with the Impala by the roadside and both of them on the hood of the car. Dean often puts some distance between himself and Sam, when he is about to reveal his feelings and thoughts to him, by crossing to the other side of the room or taking some steps back, a habit that he doesn't seem to be aware of. Sometimes Sam bridges the distance and comes to sit beside his brother, offering comfort by proximity, sometimes he gives his brother his space. This time though, Dean decides to stay very close to Sam, his back nearly touching Sam's side, deliberately seeking the physical presence of his brother, despite the fact that he is turned away from Sam, to make it easier for him to talk. I just found this observation very heart-warming amidst all the tragedy, since it deviates from their usual pattern and conveys a closeness that was needed in this scene.

                        I loved that Sam learned his lesson and stopped pushing his brother, waiting until Dean was ready to open up to him, reigning in his own need for knowledge to give his brother time to come around on his own terms. Sam's silent acceptance of Dean's confession and his open grief and shock at learning the extent of what Dean had to go through in hell, just added to the emotionality of the scene. While Sam's few words of reassurance were heartfelt, he knows that Dean isn't ready to forgive himself at the moment for what he perceives as his guilt or even to accept comfort. Sam revealed his own darkest hours to his brother just a short while ago and just like Dean didn't judge or condemn him, Sam finds no guilt in his brother for breaking under the torture in hell.

                        Back after It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester, I predicted the scenario that Dean wasn't only a victim in hell, but has also become a perpetrator and I was right. There's a certain logic in the fact that becoming a demon doesn't only involve suffering pain, but also inflicting it, committing inhuman acts, which in return result in losing your own humanity. That Dean isn't able to forgive himself for what he has done is understandable. Not only did he dedicate his life to saving others, he also never had anything but contempt for the thought of becoming a monster by choice. I have no doubt that in Dean's own mindset he made that choice to turn into a monster, when he accepted Alistair's offer to escape his own pain by inflicting it to others. I am not sure if Dean will ever be able to forgive himself for giving into the temptation and can only hope that he is able to learn to live with it.

                        As mentioned earlier, this twist in Dean's story, opens up a significant parallel between Sam and Dean, as both of them made choices that ultimately would have cost them their humanity, only on different routes and under different circumstances. Dean was saved by divine intervention, Sam's salvation might lie in his brother's love. In the light of Dean's memories about his own road to evil, his fierce reaction to Sam using his powers earlier this season gains a new level of meaning as well, as his rejection was additionally fuelled by self-loathing. Still, it also allows Sam and Dean to relate to each other better and maybe in accepting and forgiving their brother's darkness lies the key to overcome their own.

                        Jensen once again knocked this scene out of the park and managed to draw me into Dean's pain, despite my reservations while watching the rest of the episode, and Jared's subtle reactions in the background supported the scene beautifully. Kudos!

                        What else was noteworthy:

                        Sometimes it's really small details that annoy the hell out of me, like Dean helping up Ruby after their first confrontation with the angels, without checking on Sam, who has been taken out by Castiel. Dean never does that, he always makes sure Sam is okay first thing. I really can't see why he would suddenly care for Ruby's physical well-being, especially when he is totally unconcerned later, when Ruby shows up hurt after being tortured. That just doesn't add up. In any case, he may try to make nice with Ruby for Sam's sake, but it would be an automatic response for him to look after Sam first when he is down.

                        Pamela's return was one of the highlights of the episode and I was delighted to see that her experience hasn't broken her or turned her bitter. She retained her spunky, self-confident, flirty personality, despite her blindness. I totally adore her and hope she will turn up more often! I have to wonder though, why they called a psychic to do a hypnosis session, that just didn't make much sense to me, but because I love Pamela and am grateful that they brought her back, I will kindly overlook that bringing her in for that specific task was utterly random

                        In conclusion: I loved I Know What You Did Last Summer, but the two-parter as a whole fell short because of the deficits of Heaven And Hell for me. I struggled with the disappointment about the turn they took with Dean's character arc, which isn't entirely the fault of this week's episode, but a general problem of this season, and Heaven And Hell just took the brunt of my frustration. While the episode had a lot of problems on its own, it is its position in the bigger picture that pushed it over the edge for me and resulted in a negative mindset for this episode.

                        I hope the upcoming hiatus allows me to sit back and gain a new perspective on the season and this episode in particular. See you all at January, 15th and enjoy the reruns!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by galathea
                          In S1 we caught glimpses of Dean’s vulnerability beneath his ****iness, in S2 we saw Dean messed up and buckling under his burdens, in S3 Jensen was allowed to show that Dean’s carefree attitude was a mask he wore for his brother’s sake, and this emotional build-up always resulted in a cathartic breakdown for Dean as a logical consequence. In S4 this emotional build-up to Dean’s struggle was practically non-existent and the bits we did get (nightmares, sleeping problems) were not consistent with the magnitude of what happened to him. So, Dean’s confession in Wishful Thinking and his subsequent breakdown in Heaven And Hell had no anchor in his characterisation up to that point. We are told that Dean was suffering, but it wasn't shown, and that’s a huge flaw in this particular storyline for me.
                          I thought this paragraph of yours was outstanding and needed to be highlighted...Even though I don't agree with your disappointment of this season. In the vein of your analogy, I might say in S4, Dean's normalcy is a cover for a deadness inside.

                          For me, Dean feels older and perhaps more world weary. His loss of emotion and lack of stress over things seems fitting for his ordeal.

                          S1 he was worried about his dad being alive. S2 he was worried about his dad suffering in hell. S3 he was worried that Sam would die as well as afraid of what he himself would encounter in hell.

                          Now here Dean is alive. Physically whole. Sam's head is off the chopping block since Dean did his time. He also knows his parents are both no longer bound to this world whether to hell or as ghosts. He's suffered so much, but in truth he saved everything he cared for.

                          Unfortunately the war isn't truly over and he has to keep fighting. He really doesn't have the luxury to breakdown or examine everything. He's safe from hell. However, his brother, and to a lesser extent humanity, still have a lot to lose. And it's something that motivates him to hold himself together.


                          Originally posted by galathea
                          As a matter of fact, I feel that Dean’s time in hell had a deeper impact on Sam’s storyline than on Dean’s so far...
                          There's a great lyric that says, Moving on is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.

                          Dean took his own destiny into his own hands and went to hell. He had some element of control over his life...and Sam's for that matter. But Sam (and Bobby) they had zero control and that inability to have any effect is very frustrating. And that frustration can't be resolved, since there is nothing that they can do except to come to terms with their inability...or, as they mostly like mistake it be, failure.

                          Dean made a choice and he knows he has to live with it. (Or, to be technical, die and suffer with it.) Dean's not a complainer nor someone with a lot of backward regrets. So having made a choice gives him some conviction that he can't break down.

                          Sorry I must leave most of your review for later, but here's one thing we can emphatically agree on...how weird it was that Dean helped Ruby up...not to mention before Sam.

                          Lydia made the punch!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                            I thought this paragraph of yours was outstanding and needed to be highlighted...Even though I don't agree with your disappointment of this season. In the vein of your analogy, I might say in S4, Dean's normalcy is a cover for a deadness inside.
                            I am not all disappointed with the season, just with this one particular plotline. Granted, it's a very important plotline to me, but I still love all of Sam's plot and most of the mytharc development. I've overcome other disappoinments with the show, I will overcome this one. Let's see how the rest of the season turns out.

                            Anyway, I don't know how else to formulate it to make it clearer where my point lies: There is no possibility of a cover for me. What happened to Dean was brutal, viscious, destructive. That's nothing anybody can cover up in my opinion. This isn't about the war or about Sam or about the fact that he saved everyone he ever cared for. This is about him. His very own spirit was broken in hell, you don't come back from that and live on, able to cover that up. In my opinion it is impossible to hold it together or choose when to have a breakdown about it. I love Dean and I think he is one hell of a strong person, but nobody is that strong.

                            Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                            There's a great lyric that says, Moving on is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.

                            Dean took his own destiny into his own hands and went to hell. He had some element of control over his life...and Sam's for that matter. But Sam (and Bobby) they had zero control and that inability to have any effect is very frustrating. And that frustration can't be resolved, since there is nothing that they can do except to come to terms with their inability...or, as they mostly like mistake it be, failure.

                            Dean made a choice and he knows he has to live with it. (Or, to be technical, die and suffer with it.) Dean's not a complainer nor someone with a lot of backward regrets. So having made a choice gives him some conviction that he can't break down.
                            Hm, that's not what I meant. I agree, to be the survivor is the hardest thing and the changes in Sam are logical and derive from his loss. In S3 it was easier for Dean because he was the one leaving, but Sam was the one left behind. These dynamics are very clear to me. I meant that we could analyse Sam's changes from the knowledge that he had to cope with Dean's loss, but we could make no such analysis for Dean's character. It was like he went asleep in S3 and woke up in S4. He is unchanged in my opinion and for all intents and purposes Dean should have changed when he came back from hell. I think we just have very, very different psychological views.
                            Last edited by galathea; 23-11-08, 09:17 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by galathea View Post
                              I am not all disappointed with the season, just with this one particular plotline. Granted, it's a very important plotline to me, but I still love all of Sam's plot and most of the mytharc development. I've overcome other disappoinments with the show, I will overcome this one. Let's see how the rest of the season turns out.

                              Anyway, I don't know how else to formulate it to make it clearer where my point lies: There is no possibility of a cover for me. What happened to Dean was brutal, viscious, destructive. That's nothing anybody can cover up in my opinion. This isn't about the war or about Sam or about the fact that he saved everyone he ever cared for. This is about him. His very own spirit was broken in hell, you don't come back from that and live on, able to cover that up. In my opinion it is impossible to hold it together or choose when to have a breakdown about it. I love Dean and I think he is one hell of a strong person, but nobody is that strong.
                              Oh I know you are enjoying the season, I wasn't trying to say otherwise.

                              Now, don't misunderstand me, I have problems all the time that I can't wrap my head around. But could this different interpretations of the season, be rooted in our optimistic/pessimistic views?

                              I want to believe that there can be a sliver of hope after such trauma, while you're focused on the fact the sliver of hope is far too small to be considered a realistic possibility? For example, I'm focused that there is .0001% chance and you see the 99.9999% chance there isn't?

                              My life view is fairly governed by the fact there is always an exception. To everything. And since there is so much that happens in life those tiny exceptions have lots of opportunity appear. Out of the billions of people on this earth, why couldn't Dean be someone who could act this way. It's not probable, but it's not impossible. I mean if there was a .0001% of a chance, that still means one out of every million might act that way.

                              The thing is I want to believe and am looking for ways to explain Dean's recent behavior. Yes, I recognize that you are are right that he mostly like would be a broken person unable to function. But he's not, and there must be some rationality for it, more than just the show says it.

                              For me, the reasoning is that Dean had some control, gained something, and still has something to fight for.

                              I'd imagine Dean's patience is probably very thin, that his threshold to anger is greatly lowered. Dean's gone through a lot and endured, he has to have some disdain to those people that pity themselves when they haven't gone through all he has. We haven't seen Dean encounter too many civilians this season especially those complaining how bad their lives were. Though we see his incredulousness in Wishful thinking to Wes. We see how doubly violent he is to Sam in Metamorphosis at the injustice that Sam can't resist temptation to give in to evil for just one summer when Dean was able to resist for years.

                              Also, there is the parallel to real life, that Dean went to prison for a crime he didn't commit to save his brother. He did his time (or got his pardon), and now he's out. Luckily he had his old life to go back to instead of trying to reintegrate into society with the deadening 9-5 minimum wage job. Now that banal day to day living would have killed Dean after leaving hell.

                              Dean makes note that he, "just got out of jail" in 4.01 when talking about Pamela's propositioning. It's not so farfetched the show wants to liken hell to prison. We saw how Dean reacted to being in prison, he almost fit in. His aggressive nature, ability to decieve, and confidence in his own core identity would have helped him survive in ways that a weaker person wouldn't.

                              Yes, Kripke mentioned POW multiple times in interviews. But Kripke's a tease and doesn't want to give away all of the minutia and parallels to his artistic work.

                              Hm, that's not what I meant. I agree, to be the survivor is the hardest thing and the changes in Sam are logical and derive from his loss. In S3 it was easier for Dean because he was the one leaving, but Sam was the one left behind. These dynamics are very clear to me. I meant that we could analyse Sam's changes from the knowledge that he had to cope with Dean's loss, but we could make no such analysis for Dean's character. It was like he went asleep in S3 and woke up in S4. He is unchanged in my opinion and for all intents and purposes Dean should have changed when he came back from hell. I think we just have very, very different psychological views.
                              Ah. I see. Well I still think that Sam's changes should be more dramatic. He had to live in the world.

                              And the truth is, Dean did leave the world. He had no new emotional connections or ability to grow. All he had was himself and the things he learned about himself.

                              I have always liked the Time is Fluid notion. As always, I very rarely take something literal. Even if they say 40 years, I still can't comprehend that Dean was able to truly acknowledge that time. At best it becomes a number devoid of true meaning. In life, time appears to move faster than others, while slower at other points. That's how I conceive time in Hell. Words like hours and days don't mean the same, it's just one note over and over until it you lose track of where you started.

                              Coming back, Dean has a choice to hold that pain close to his heart and let it define him. Or, he can try to pretend that it never existed. He didn't choose the first, and the consequences of taking the second action will break through at points. I sincerely don't think we've heard the last about Dean's time in Hell.


                              You say Dean's spirit is broken. I disagree. I think the spirit is more steel than glass.

                              It's been bent into all kinds of ugly angles. It'll take a while but it can be somewhat straightened out. Though the welts and creases and little curves will always remain. The true strength is weakened and may buckle under pressure, but for the most part it can be functional.

                              Lydia made the punch!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I haven't commented on either of these episodes, and waited to see what others thought before I did. In the main I'm kinda relived that doubts have been expressed about this one, because I was thinking the same thing - which concerned me bearing in mind that this was a big episode that, going on the other episodes this season, should have been totally amazing.

                                My feelings after watching it were that the scope has got too big for the show. At it's core this is a show about two brothers and in this episode the brothers were more or less side-lined. I couldn't help thinking that we've gone from the simple premise of two brothers searching for their father to a war betweeen Heaven and Hell in 3 and half seasons and that seems to be too fast. My initial reaction made me think that I don't like the way the show is going and would ultimately turn my love for the show into distaste. However, I have had these feelings before with other shows (Angel S4 comes to mind) and in the end my love for the show didn't go anywhere and on re-watchings I realised that it's the change that I didn't like at first not what was actually happening.

                                After reading the other posts and hearing other people (who really, really love the show) have concerns I am much more reassured that I am jumping the gun by condeming this Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons storylines so early in the season. After all I haven't had a problem with it until now!

                                Also, I think the problem that I am having with this particular episode comes down to expectations. I expected more than we got, and if my expectations weren't so high I would have enjoyed the episode a lot more, repeated watchings will cure that I'm sure.

                                Anyway, onto the episode itself. Like I said the outcome of the two parter was a mild disappointment after the strong first episode. I was expecting a lot of soul searching when it came to Dean's time in Hell as we spent so much time with it in the last episode from Sam's point of view. Now I do realise that we were never going to get "flashbacks" for Dean like we did with Sam but having the whole thing relegated to the last few minutes was a shame.

                                Anna being an angel was something I didn't see coming and on the whole I think it was a good twist - I was expecting her to be a really bad-ass demon. The falling to earth and ripping out her grace was a new way of showing an angel's desire for humanity (for me at least, I did see that Nic Cage/Meg Ryan film "City of Angels" was it? but didn't really enjoy it all that much so it didn't stay in my brain) and I totally bought her reasons, especially when you compare it to Dean wanting to be numb.

                                Castiel and Uriel continue to be a delight on screen, and Ruby is even more confusing. I did think that she really had sold the boys out when she called Alistair, but when you think about it it's too early in the season to make her intentions clear. On the one hand I do believe that she isn't liked by the other demons and maybe that's just because she is "working the dark side" (or at least the dark side to them i.e. our light side), but on the other hand I really want to see an intricate plan with her and everything she's said to be a lie - and if that plan involves what Azazael was planning I would be a very happy bunny.

                                sidenote: After IKWYDLS was focused on Sam I now want to see a completely Sam-centric episode like we got with Dean in WIAWNSB and "In The Beginning"

                                Spoiler:
                                and I think we might get that because there's an up-coming episode which visits a high school that the boys went to and would surely lead to Sam-type flashbacks. He's the scholarly one after all!


                                Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                Coming back, Dean has a choice to hold that pain close to his heart and let it define him. Or, he can try to pretend that it never existed. He didn't choose the first, and the consequences of taking the second action will break through at points. I sincerely don't think we've heard the last about Dean's time in Hell.

                                You say Dean's spirit is broken. I disagree. I think the spirit is more steel than glass. It's been bent into all kinds of ugly angles. It'll take a while but it can be somewhat straightened out. Though the welts and creases and little curves will always remain. The true strength is weakened and may buckle under pressure, but for the most part it can be functional.
                                I thought I'd include this in my post because I feel that this is very very true to how I feel Dean's coping mechanism is working. I am reminded of, bizarrely, of a quote from Gossip Girl (paraphrased) - "In life you find obstacles in your path and you can either smash into it or change and go round it, but either way you have to do something to move forward"

                                Dean isn't smashing into it, he's walking round it and in order to do that he's closing eyes to it and trying to forget it's there. We know that it's not working but it's the only thing he can do in the circumstances - if he smashes into it then he would have to deal with what happened, and he's not ready to do that yet - because like the above analogy his spirit is really bent and could still reach breaking point. Acting as if nothing had happened is all he can do at the moment, and eventually he will have to face, pardon the pun, his demons. His conversation with Anna about how he can't talk about it shows to me he's trying to bury it, because he can't face it. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and Dean's now taken that first step in admitting to Sam what he did in Hell. Slowly I think we will see Dean showing more signs of trauma and eventually he will overcome it with Sam's support.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                  Now, don't misunderstand me, I have problems all the time that I can't wrap my head around. But could this different interpretations of the season, be rooted in our optimistic/pessimistic views?

                                  I want to believe that there can be a sliver of hope after such trauma, while you're focused on the fact the sliver of hope is far too small to be considered a realistic possibility? For example, I'm focused that there is .0001% chance and you see the 99.9999% chance there isn't?

                                  My life view is fairly governed by the fact there is always an exception. To everything. And since there is so much that happens in life those tiny exceptions have lots of opportunity appear. Out of the billions of people on this earth, why couldn't Dean be someone who could act this way. It's not probable, but it's not impossible. I mean if there was a .0001% of a chance, that still means one out of every million might act that way.
                                  I would say it's not optimistic vs pessimistic, but idealistic vs realistic. One of my favourite things about the show is how realistically it deals with the heavy emotional traumata Sam and Dean go through. Grave events have grave consequences for the characters in this show and change them permanently. They never go back to a status quo with the characters, they are always dynamic, formed by their experiences. Choices have consequences and these consequences have always been played out in the show and I adore that.

                                  Think of it from a narrative point of view: What's the point in sending one of your main characters to hell, if you don't use it as a driving force for his development and instead return to the status quo with the character? That makes absolutely no sense from a storytelling pov, no matter if there's a tiny, tiny chance that some people react more balanced to a traumatic experience. The show never did that, they always used these events to drive the characters. John's disappearance was the catalyst for Sam and Dean rebonding, John's death was a catalyst for the brother's development into men of their own, Dean's deal was a catalyst for Sam's change in personality and for Dean making peace with his life etc. ... cause -> effect, the show does it so very well. To not use Dean's traumatic experience in hell in the same manner, is a waste of a fantastic storyline for me.

                                  Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                  Coming back, Dean has a choice to hold that pain close to his heart and let it define him. Or, he can try to pretend that it never existed. He didn't choose the first, and the consequences of taking the second action will break through at points. I sincerely don't think we've heard the last about Dean's time in Hell.
                                  I can absolutely live with this interpretation, if Dean's storyline is expanded upon in the 2nd half of the season and my expectations for realistic trauma are met later on. If this is the case, I can go on with believing that Dean repressed his memories for the first couple of weeks and is only now facing up to his inner struggle. I will still always think the timing wasn't optimal, but I prefer that any day over being disappointed with a whole storyline.

                                  Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
                                  My feelings after watching it were that the scope has got too big for the show. At it's core this is a show about two brothers and in this episode the brothers were more or less side-lined. I couldn't help thinking that we've gone from the simple premise of two brothers searching for their father to a war betweeen Heaven and Hell in 3 and half seasons and that seems to be too fast. My initial reaction made me think that I don't like the way the show is going and would ultimately turn my love for the show into distaste. However, I have had these feelings before with other shows (Angel S4 comes to mind) and in the end my love for the show didn't go anywhere and on re-watchings I realised that it's the change that I didn't like at first not what was actually happening.

                                  After reading the other posts and hearing other people (who really, really love the show) have concerns I am much more reassured that I am jumping the gun by condeming this Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons storylines so early in the season. After all I haven't had a problem with it until now!
                                  God, I totally agree with it. I love the angel storyline this season, I really do, and I loved how they gave us little bits in the beginning, with Castiel and later Uriel, but kept the season rooted in Sam and Dean's storylines. In Heaven and Hell however this focus was totally lost and I find that I am not really interested in big apocalyptic storylines, if Sam and Dean are not in the center of it, if the plot is self-indulgent instead of driving the Winchester plot forward. It's especially annoying if the episode should have been focused on Dean most of all, considering how important the reveals in this episode were for his character. He deserved a quiet episode for himself instead of being one plotline in many. Sam's episode worked so so much better. /sigh

                                  Heh, at the moment I am not all that concerned. I think that maybe now that Kripke returned to his 5 year plan (at least that's what I hope) the mytharc development will slow down again to its normal level and we will get more Sam'n'Dean on the road episodes again. After all Heaven and Hell was the first episode this season where I felt they overstrained the mytharc and I hold on to the hope that it was a singular case. I had Supernatural episodes that totally threw me off before, but I always bounced back because in the end the show always returned to its usual greatness. This will be no different!

                                  Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
                                  The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and Dean's now taken that first step in admitting to Sam what he did in Hell. Slowly I think we will see Dean showing more signs of trauma and eventually he will overcome it with Sam's support.
                                  That's what I am hoping for. As I said, my overall feelings for this season will strongly depend on how the season proceeds, now that Dean opened up and openly faced his memories. If his confession in Heaven and Hell was the climax of Dean's storyline, I will be pissed. If we see trauma signs emerging from now on, I will still think the build-up to it was clunky but it would surely feel a lot better about the whole storyline.
                                  Last edited by galathea; 24-11-08, 05:52 PM.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by galathea View Post
                                    I would say it's not optimistic vs pessimistic, but idealistic vs realistic.
                                    I apologize. I did not mean to say that your view of SN is pessimistic. I was referring to how we both see the same thing, but interpret it differently. (As opposed to one of us being blind or crazy. ) And looking back I didn't realize how negative I sounded towards you using the word pessimistic. But in the same vein, I wouldn't say I'm idealistic and unrealistic. Nor due I think realistic is as wise as it sounds. I think you have to have something to aspire to in life. Otherwise, what motivation do you have to accomplish anything? Or to be better than what is expected of you?

                                    I find it ironic that our conversation has come to the discussion of the evaluation of two sides of the same thing, when perhaps the show is trying to show us that same idea in the title of Heaven and Hell.

                                    One of my favourite things about the show is how realistically it deals with the heavy emotional traumata Sam and Dean go through. Grave events have grave consequences for the characters in this show and change them permantently. They never go back to a status quo with the characters, they are always dynamic, formed by their experiences. Choices have consequences and these consequences have always been played out in the show and I adore that.
                                    I absolutely appreciate the dynamic nature of the characters. But I also appreciate the characters not losing sight of who they are. It's a delicate balance.

                                    I think Dean has been disturbed, less patient, less exuberant and taken less joy in what he does. For me, he's different. I've never more felt that he was truly wearing a mask. And after 2 seasons, maybe he's just gotten really good at it.

                                    And amongst all the realism, Dean has an angel looking to him for answers to humanity and the world. That's hope and inspiration to be better than who I am if I ever saw it. So who would you equate Castiel's role to in a realistic world?


                                    Think of it from a narrative point of view: What's the point in sending one of your main characters to hell, if you don't use it as a driving force for his development and instead return to the status quo with the character? That makes absolutely no sense from a storytelling pov, no matter if there's a tiny, tiny chance that some people react more balanced to a traumatic experience...To not use Dean's traumatic experience in hell in the same manner, is a waste of a fantastic storyline for me.
                                    I thought this season was supposed to be a mystery so I too will be disappoint if the reveal was the end of it. But Kripke usually likes to lead into hiatus with a cliffhanger and that's what I see it as...a little tease of what's to be revealed later.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                      And looking back I didn't realize how negative I sounded towards you using the word pessimistic. But in the same vein, I wouldn't say I'm idealistic and unrealistic.
                                      Don't worry, I didn't take it negatively. I am a pessimist, you kow that, I know that. I always have been, but I do have a very optimistic and positive view on the show. I just meant that to expect that Dean is a wreck after his experience isn't pessimistic for me, it's what I expect from my RL experience with traumatised people. That's all!

                                      Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                      I absolutely appreciate the dynamic nature of the characters. But I also appreciate the characters not losing sight of who they are. It's a delicate balance.
                                      Oh, I agree there. IMO so far they did a great job with that balance.

                                      Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                      I think Dean has been disturbed, less patient, less exuberant and taken less joy in what he does. For me, he's different. I've never more felt that he was truly wearing a mask. And after 2 seasons, maybe he's just gotten really good at it.
                                      See, I don't see that at all this season so far. On the contrary, I saw him more confident, more exuberant, indulging in food and sex, joking with Sam and Bobby etc. If there hadn't been the nightmares and his struggle to come to terms with Sam's powers, I would have said we had the most relaxed Dean ever since S1 this season.

                                      Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                      And amongst all the realism, Dean has an angel looking to him for answers to humanity and the world. That's hope and inspiration to be better than who I am if I ever saw it. So who would you equate Castiel's role to in a realistic world?
                                      Hm, I am not quite sure what you mean by that. What I think Castiel stands for as a metaphor in the real world? I am not sure if I see him that way at all. He challenges Dean's beliefs and perceptions about himself and the world, that's for sure. I don't see Dean trying to impress Castiel though or aspire to be something better because of him. Dean is too much of a skeptic and follows his own path, angels be damned if they don't agree.

                                      Originally posted by Ehlwyen View Post
                                      I thought this season was supposed to be a mystery so I too will be disappoint if the reveal was the end of it. But Kripke usually likes to lead into hiatus with a cliffhanger and that's what I see it as...a little tease of what's to be revealed later.
                                      LOL your words in Kripke's ear. I will gladly accept to be proven wrong if Dean's struggles will become more prominent in the next couple of episodes. Maybe these epiosdes were meant to convey that now that Dean opened up, it made his experiences real to him and he has to deal with them now. If that happens, I'll apologize for my lack of trust in Kripke. We'll see!

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                                      • #20
                                        Finally, I'm up to speed with everyone else on the forum... though will take me a while to read through the detailed thoughts in this thread. Nice discussion!

                                        This episode really blew me away. I don't think I've been as involved in the unfolding of something since, well, Buffy really. The stuff with Dean-as-torturer was brilliant. So well acted, and it wasn't something I anticipated when he was initially unwilling to talk to Dean in past eps. This show is taking us deeper and deeper into the bad place. Ouch.

                                        I love the guy from the Wire as a harsh, warrior angel, especially with the contrast with Castiel's softer, more regretful soldier (reminding me now slightly of the angel-gone-native in Good Omens, though actually he's rather more like the demon-gone-native perhaps).

                                        The God/Daddy Winchester parallel was very enjoyable, when I often find those "I know where you're coming from" conversations a bit contrived. They genuinely have had some parallel experiences. The idea of a God who's absent even to most angels is a great concept - faith isn't just for humans, everyone needs to take that leap into the dark and make their own choices. Even if being an angel only gives you one choice (obey or fall/die), angels still can forge their own destiny, as Anna shows.

                                        When I first heard there were going to be angels on the show, I cringed. I was expecting something terribly cheesy, as angels on telly usually are. But this is more Wings of Desire than Angels in America. Works nicely.

                                        And Dean/Anna have an unusual, soft chemistry. Sam/Ruby is very hot and dark, but Dean and Anna, there's a solace there, a genuine understanding.


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