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REVIEW: Supernatural 12×07 “Rock Never Dies”

Well, I don’t know what the Winchesters got up to for Thanksgiving (they don’t have a whole heap to be grateful for, let’s be real), but they’re back, and Dean was receiving a sound thrashing at Words with Friends from his absent mom. This was not only a cute bonding moment which showed progression in terms of Mary making peace with the modern world, but also a nice bit of fanservice, as those in the know will remember that Misha Collins used to play the game with his Twitter followers and with Jared Padalecki. But Dean’s quality mother-son time was interrupted by a call from Castiel, who has been tracking Lucifer with the help of best frenemy, Crowley. Yes, aging rocker Vince Vincente was back from his vacay at the bottom of the salty deep, courtesy of Rowena, and ready to get the band back together.

I’ve made no secret of my favouritism when it comes to writer, Robert Berens, and this was him at his pithy best. Not only was it refreshing to see Sam and Dean out of their natural environment, but this episode was a savagely funny take-down of LA and the entertainment industry, crammed with meta and pop culture references, and blending satire with real food for thought.

Dean’s apparent disdain for La La Land and celebrity culture was brilliantly undermined by him vaguely recalling that they were last in Hollywood ten years ago, a reference to the episode, “Hollywood Babylon” when he was obviously excited about being on a film set, and ended up being a star PA to an actress he was crushing on. And once in the City of Angels, he took to wearing shades inside and drinking cucumber water like the douche-bags he claims to despise. Crowley, meanwhile, was in his element, and we discovered he basically runs the city, collecting the creme de la creme of souls from up and coming young talent. Sam proved to be a bit of low key hair metal fanboy, while poor Cas was as out of his depth as ever.

While this episode had a lot to say about the cult of celebrity, obsession, and the way society has become addicted to distraction, it also cleverly reset Lucifer as an antagonist after the overblown mytharc of last season. Supernatural can’t get any bigger than Armageddon or meeting God Himself, so having a fallen angel on the loose with no real motive and no higher purpose other than bringing chaos and suffering for the sake of it is actually a smart move. Of course, it all boils down to abandonment and daddy issues (what doesn’t on this show?), but I did enjoy seeing a version of the Morning Star as nihilistic and decadent as the one legions of hard rock fans look to for inspiration.

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It was also good to have Sam voice something which has been problematic in terms of the show’s ‘saving people’ mantra for some time now. The fact that Dean saw rescuing the majority of fans at the Ladyheart gig as a victory but overlooked the deaths of the band, the boys who summoned Lucifer, the bent music mogul, and of Vince himself, underlines how the original ethos of the Winchesters and Supernatural has been eroded over the years. It’s easy to see the brothers as heroes, but on closer examination, they are working with the King of Hell and have had to do many things which compromise their good guy credentials. Vessels have been seen as disposable for a while now, but the loss of such a high profile one forces us to remember that each one is a person who was loved. We explored this theme, most notably with the Castiel/Claire Novak storyline, but it bears repeating.

With Lucifer smoked out and set to take over an even bigger personality that Vincente’s next week, it remains to be seen how this thread will tie together with the UK Men of Letters threat. But overall this was a really fun episode with some great lines, some fab, creepy VFX, and a whole heap of eighties and nineties nostalgia to boot.

Final Grade: B

+ Can we take a minute to thank the wardrobe department? I mean, hot damn. Winchesters in leather. Between this and the priest outfits, Season 12, you are really spoiling me.

+ Berens’ attention to detail is second to none, and as a discerning fan of crap rock, all the minutiae and 80s-90s references gave me the kind of tingles I usually get while reading Palahniuk. I can afford no higher compliment.

+ “At least I don’t look like a lumberjack.” OH BURN! Who invited SASStiel??

– Playing Devil’s advocate for a second, Lucifer’s rant about ‘distraction addicts’ who lap up re-runs and re-hashes could be seen as a dig at fans and fandom culture within the context of this episode, in which a groupie literally bleeds for her idol then begs to be discharged from hospital so she can get to his show, and┬ábearing in mind that Supernatural has been running for twelve years now. It wouldn’t be the first time the show has depicted super-fans in a derogatory, self-referential fashion.

– It’s a shame to say goodbye to Rick Springfield just as I was getting into his take on Luci.

– If we’re being nit-picky, it’s kind of absurd that Lucifer wouldn’t just snap the Winchesters’ necks at this point. Maybe it’s a Batman/Joker “you complete me” kinda deal?

Extra Thought: Who let Dean Winchester into a club with a loaded gun? I can’t get past security anywhere these days without someone rifling through my sweaty gym bag and confiscating my water!

So what did you think? Did this episode have you pumping your fist, or banging your head (against a wall)? Sound off in the comments or tell us on Twitter!

 

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Katie Young

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