Big trouble in a small package for the Winchesters this week, as baby Amara turned out to be quite the problem child, and Sam met someone with an axe to grind over his part in the death of…well, Death! Quite a lot of new information packed into this episode, so let’s recap, shall we? Watch out – there are spoilers in the road ahead…
“Form and Void” picked up a short while after the season opener, with Dean taking Jenna and the orphaned Amara to the safety of the rookie cop’s Grandma’s house. But as we all know, kids in Supernatural are usually the scariest things of all, and it wasn’t long before Amara was doing decidedly creepy things like levitating objects and going down for a nap with no fuss. Jenna and Grandma started to panic when she used her telekinetic powers to spell FEED ME in building blocks embedded in the wall of her nursery, but to be fair they hadn’t fed her and I’m pretty sure newborns need to eat every hour or something, so no wonder she was ‘hangry’. And hands up if you read FEED ME to yourself in the voice of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.
Jenna called Dean and asked him to rush back, but Grandma insisted on calling a priest in the meantime. When Dean returned to the house, who should he find, but Crowley in full priest garb, posing as an exorcist to get close to the child prodigy. While Dean and the King of Hell engaged in some standard homoerotic banter in the garden, young Amara ate Jenna’s soul (should’ve been more forthcoming with the milk, guys), leaving the hapless deputy a moral vacuum with a penchant for parricide. Having dispatched Grandma, Jenna turned on Dean, until she was stopped dead (literally) by Crowley. Oh, Supernatural! I thought we had turned a corner. I thought there was to be no fridging of secondary female characters this season. I thought we were back to saving people. Sam’s going to be cross.
Speaking of the younger Winchester, Sam was back at the hospital determined to find a cure for the black-veiny zombification disease coursing through his blood. He started by capturing an infected man with a home-made Taser, but his hostage seemed pretty resigned to his fate and only interested in eating as much pudding as possible before he bit the dust. I feel you, bro. Sam tried praying, and was given a sign in the form of some hideous visions of himself writhing on hooks in Hell. I’m not sure how that was filmed, but it did not look comfortable. Not even Jared Padalecki’s naked torso, which is legitimately one of my favourite things in the world, could detract from the horror of those pointy things so close to his eyeballs!
But an answer to Sam’s predicament came from an unexpected source when he met Billie, a reaper with a grudge who announced her presence by singing a spooky a cappella version of O, Death, the song which was used to introduce Death back in season five. Billie informed Sam that he and Dean would not be coming back the next time they died as she would personally see to it that they would be thrown into The Empty. Hold up. This is brand new information. As well as Heaven (which the brothers shared, and can be accessed through a sandpit), Hell, and Purgatory, there is The Empty, which I guess is just oblivion. Interesting that no one has ever mentioned this before. Billie also mentioned that Death had found it amusing to let the Winchesters bend the rules of (after)life and death, although I seem to recall he didn’t find it funny at all. In fact, he spent a whole episode punishing Dean for interfering with the natural order! Billie told Sam that she could sense he was dying, which reminded me that the pudding-loving rage zombie said he could smell the disease on Sam. Come on, guys! What about the giant black veins on his FACE?! She also said he was ‘unclean in a Biblical sense’, which gave Sam the idea of cleansing himself with flaming holy oil.
Meanwhile, someone else with anger management issues, Castiel, was still struggling with the effects of Rowena’s attack dog spell, and being tortured by possibly the most dickish angels to date. He was rescued by Hannah (now in male form), but it soon transpired that Hannah had staged the kidnapping to get information on Metatron’s whereabouts from poor Castiel. This kicked off another fit of rage, which left everyone but Cas dead. It’s a real shame they got rid of Hannah as the dynamic between the love-struck angel and the too-human Cas would have been interesting to watch with a male-form vessel.
So Sam lived to fight another day (obviously), and was reunited with his brother in the Men of Letters bunker, where they found a bloodied Castiel, and Crowley pursued the rapidly aging Amara, luring her into his car with the promise of some nice fresh souls to eat.
After the strong season premiere last week hinted at an era of change, this second installment felt a little like a backwards step. The continuity errors and retconning which have marred recent seasons are sneaking back in, and the deaths of Jenna and Hannah just felt wasteful. We also have a situation where Sam has concealed vital information from Dean once again, and we know that never ends well. I kind of hoped we were past that stage, but it’s early days, so I’m reserving judgement for now. There are some exciting clues about Sam potentially having to go back to Hell (which means we might get to see Adam again after years of languishing in the cage), and the soulless people left in Amara’s wake could be fun. I kind of miss Soulless!Sam. He wore fewer clothes and smirked a lot. I like the visual similarities to other seasons’ Big Bads. The use of a young girl playing Amara recalls Lilith, the black blood harks back to the Leviathans, and the Hell flashbacks/flashforwards conjure memories of when Sam was Lucifer’s bunk buddy and when Dean was crying out for Sam after becoming Hellhound chow. I just hope this is all leading somewhere meaningful.
Final grade: C
+ Crowley. Crowley. Crowley. What a return to form. Every line out of Mark Sheppard’s mouth was golden. And I’m going to be picturing Dean as a scrumptious young altar boy for a very long time to come.
+ Smart Sam building things with his beautiful big hands and using his Stanford-quality brain to think his way out of a corner. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have immediately thought of burning myself with holy oil, but that’s why I didn’t go to Stanford. Probably.
+ Tying this season to previous years and the overall mythos, even if it was done in a slightly clunky way with the song. I mean, this show is not subtle.
+ Threat of THE EMPTY brings a renewed and heightened sense of peril.
– Sam hiding things from Dean. Third verse, same as the first.
– Disposable women. Even if one of them was in a male meatsuit.
– Sam and Dean being apart for the majority of the episode. Winchesters are always better together.
– Did anyone else think the score was hella intrusive in places this week?
An additional thought:
I’m struggling with the idea of Death being dead but death still happening. I mean, Death was going to reap GOD. Death wasn’t just a reaper. He was DEATH. And if reapers can step into Death’s shoes, surely they should have names with more gravitas than Billie.
What did you think? Are you excited about what’s coming, or worried we’re heading down the same old highway of broken dreams? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!