Features Reviews TV

REVIEW: Supernatural 12×09 “First Blood”

Written by Katie Young

Remember when an evil, amoral, demonic presence, bent on chaos and the destruction of the human race took up residence in the White House, but it was all okay because the Winchesters came along and cast him back into Hell? Yup, sadly that was only on Supernatural, and while those of us in the real world remain saddled with something much worse than Lucifer squatting in the Oval Office (hey, at least The Fallen One has a certain pithy charm), Sam and Dean were banged up in a secret, high security facility for their troubles.

Presumed dead after the events of Season 7’s “Slash Fiction”, when the Leviathan versions of Sam and Dean were found decapitated, the boys were separated and incarcerated in Site 94, a covert prison somewhere in the Rocky Mountains National Park. While one of their captors planned to take them out back and shoot them, it was decided to keep them in solitary to establish whether they were working as part of a terrorist unit. A far cry from the days of “Folsom Prison Blues”, this episode was Hell on Earth for the brothers, pretty devoid of humour, with Jared Padalecki conveying Sam’s terror at the prospect of being left alone with his thoughts and cage memories perfectly, and Jensen Ackles equally on form as a determined Dean. At one point, Dean admitted that six weeks in solitary was worse than Hell for him, and despite his diligent marking off of the days and his enjoyment of the abysmal looking prison cuisine, it wasn’t hard to believe.  Dean Winchester has always been uneasy when confined to motels, waiting for intel, preferring the open road and having a definite course of action.

Meanwhile, on the outside, it was apparent no one was coming to help the Winchesters this time. Castiel met up with Mary, who initially blamed him for not calling her when her boys were in trouble, and for letting the woman who is currently gestating Satan’s Spawn get away. A bit rich maybe, considering Mamma Winchester has been pushing the brothers away since her (admittedly uninvited) resurrection. Setting aside their differences, the hunter and the angel tried to find leads on Sam and Dean’s whereabouts, and continued working cases with varying degrees of success. Mary took a call from Asa Fox’s daughter, Alicia, asking for help with a werewolf pack, while Castiel tried to take out a nest of vampires but made a hash of it. The angel approached Crowley for help, but in a rare moment of levity, Crowley refused, telling Cas he ‘pitied the fool’ who was holding the infamous Moose and Squirrel.

Supernatural --"First Blood"-- SN1209b_0042.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Misha Collins as Castiel and Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

With no help coming, Sam and Dean resorted to desperate measures to escape. Although the extent of their plan wasn’t clear at first, we knew something sinister was afoot when both brothers were found dead in their cells, only for them both to wake up in the morgue. Dean put in a call to Cas, who took Mary and met with Mick Davies and Mr. Ketch of the British MoL, seemingly the only people with information about Site 94. The fact that they knew about a facility which was above the pay grade of Crowley’s contacts strikes me as slightly ominous!

It was good to see that Sam and Dean are still legitimate badasses who can outsmart the Secret Service. Seeing them as fugitives in the woods, living by their wits and trapping black ops soldiers with ease was thrilling, and although they were brutal (bear trap anyone?) they didn’t murder any humans, reminding us that they are heroes, guys who repeatedly save the world. Sadly, Cas’s decision to involve the MoL meant that Mr. Ketch tied up the brothers’ ‘loose ends’ in the bloodiest way possible, and Lady Toni’s frightened declaration that Ketch is a psychopath was illustrated chillingly by the black and white snapshots of Sanchez and co. in the cabin with their throats slit.

Calling the MoL might not be the only decision with terrible repercussions Castiel made this week. Sam and Dean’s escape plan was revealed in full when reaper, Billie, showed up, demanding the soul of a Winchester by midnight to uphold the deal they’d made with her inside Site 94. I’m not sure how the boys thought this would play out. Dean had decided they were as good as dead anyway, and by sacrificing one of them, at least the other would be able to keep fighting the good fight. It’s probably fair to assume Dean would have been planning to sacrifice himself, because that’s his MO. His refusal to discuss the details with Sam while they were on the run suggests he wasn’t going to give his younger brother a chance to dissuade him. It would have been interesting to see that conversation between the brothers before Mary volunteered herself. Maybe they would have played Rock, Paper, Scissors? Anyhoo, Billie’s gratification was eternally delayed when Cas stuck her with his angel blade, despite her warning about breaking the blood oath having cosmic consequences. While Castiel’s rationale for saving them was quite cute, it strikes me that Mary’s death might not have been a bad thing. She hasn’t felt that she belongs since she was returned, and this way, she would have been justified in opting out…

billie

So, a pretty heavy-going mid-season premiere, with a lot of kick-ass Winchester action, and some potentially disastrous consequences on the way.

Final Grade: B-

+ Dean asserting that he and Sam weren’t trapped in the woods with the black ops team, and that it was the other way around made me all tingly. Don’t you just love it when he takes control like that?

+ I like the fact that Crowley didn’t help them. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the history of these characters, and to be overly sentimental. But ultimately Crowley is a self-serving demon. If he doesn’t need the boys for anything, why would he waste energy on them.

+ I liked the continuity of Dean enjoying the gross prison food and Sam being disgusted. It was a nice throwback to Folsom.

– I’m sad to see Billie go, as I was waiting for her to become pivotal after the death of Death. I’m not sure what consequences her demise will have as Death’s absence doesn’t seem to have affected things much at all. Feels like a wasted opportunity for some brilliant horror.

– I’m kind of sad that Castiel has been reduced to moping about, unable to locate a vampire, and not able to find Sam and Dean. I miss the days of him being an all-powerful angel of the lord. I’ve lost track a bit, but he doesn’t even seem to have any magical abilities at the moment. It was good that he took decisive action to save his friends, but he pretty much denied Mary her chance to find peace and may well have wrought havoc on them all. I miss Season 5 Cas!

– HDU tease me with Alicia Banes, and not show us her and her beautiful twin, Max!

Extra Thoughts: This was the 250th episode of Supernatural! That’s a LOT of monsters ganked. Those boys must be exhausted. And with Mick trying to get Mary Winchester on side, could we moving towards the dawning of Creaturegeddon?!

What did you think? Was “First Blood” more Shawshank or rank? Sound off in the comments, or hit us up on Twitter!

About the author

Katie Young

Leave a Reply