Where, oh where, has the First Blade gone? Oh where, oh where can it beeee? This episode deals with just that, as our boys go on a knife hunt with a sorrowfully strung out Crowley. Along the way, they meet the real Jersey Devil, a horny professor, and the Men of Letters reject who bought a zoo. Since the episode had a single storyline to follow, this week we can delve into the delightful minutiae of caller id, stunt casting and transformational reading material. All of which made the episode great.
1. Moose and Squirrel
Oh, Crowley. We love you for the many nicknames you have given our Sammy, and Moose is by far our favorite (and @jarpad’s, too, judging by the many moosey Twitter photos he has shared.) Seeing Crowley’s caller ID identify Dean as “Not Moose”? Hilarious, though I’m not sure if Dean should be flattered or offended. Crowley sees himself and Sam as something of a team after their time in the church. Sam’s reaction to that? Pretty much this.
And speaking of Crowley…
2. Strung Out and Hung Up on You
Mark Sheppard, as I have said repeatedly, is a golden god, and he was amazing in this episode. From Crowley’s behavior as a pathetic blood junkie to the anger he bellowed when the boys took him captive (again) to the silliness of his drunk dials, Sheppard played a range of emotions with his usual strength and finesse. Sometimes, SPN plotlines (like Buffy of yore) are very realistic struggles despite their supernatural nature. Mark Sheppard plays an addict note-perfect–he is the King of Pain while still retaining his regality as the King of Hell. He is an actor of the highest caliber, and he needs to be in ALL. THE. THINGS. Ever.
3. The Shore Thing
So, okay. Sometimes SPN uses a little bit of stunt casting. This can work very well dramatically, as it did with Linda Blair in Season Two’s “The Usual Suspects” and sometimes it is just campy good fun, as it was with Paris Hilton in Season Five’s “Fallen Idols”. Casting Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi? Decidedly the latter.
In the SPNverse, Snooki…I mean, Nicole…is a full on demon at the crossroads, and she gives the boys the information they need to find Crowley when he’s gone AWOL to mainline human red. According to her fansites and Twitter, Polizzi got a lot of hate for being on the show, and that’s truly unfortunate, since she didn’t write for or cast herself. We, as fans, need to be a lot kinder and commend her for doing a fine job adding some lightheartedness to a heavy-handed season. SPN has always gone meta. This is just another example. Let’s take our humor where we can get it.
4. Partners in Time
Was anyone else but me happy to see that the mangst had been somewhat tabled this week? It was such a relief to see the boys working together towards a common goal with a minimum of emotional battling. I totally understand the need for dramatic tension, but I always prefer the boys as a team. And to face the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead? They’re going to need to be.
5. The Dirty Minded Professor
What was the most realistic part of a show featuring two monster hunters and the King of Hell looking for the knife Cain used to kill Abel so they can destroy a demon out to burn the earth? That a woman found Dean Winchester smokin’ hot. As part of their search for the First Blade, the boys talk to Dr. MacElroy, the professor who sold it to a buyer named “Magnus”. This, of course, is an important, Men-of-Letters type clue, but the best part of the scene was the way she wanted Dean to “get information out of her” in the naughtiest of ways. When she handed her card over, and Sam made to take it, she snatched it away and basically made it clear—she wanted to give it to big brother only. Marked or not, Dean Winchester’s still got it.
6. Reading is Fundamental
One of my favorite things about the episode was seeing Crowley’s habits and tics as he transformed from a desperate, emotional blood junkie back to the cold, de-humanizing King of Hell we know and love. For example, strung out Crowley reads this:
While the almost dried out Crowley, as shown above, prefers a different kind of little woman (ie: a Busty Asian Beauty.) The show managed to put his life journey out of addiction into one episode. For example, compromised Crowley steals candy.
King of Hell Crowley? He stole something much more important.
Good luck getting that one back, boys. Should have bought him a Snickers.
7. “We’re Legacies.”
I am so excited that the boys, who, heretofore have behaved so very Campbell, are embracing their Winchester side by delving ever further into their past (and futures) as Men of Letters. Sam the bookworm has always balanced Dean the grunt. They are halves of a whole, but that means that without each other they are weaker. If they can both manage to embrace both sides of their family tree, they are sure to be stronger than ever in the epic battle that undoubtedly lies ahead.
8. Under Your Spell
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the VFX team? They just get better and better every season. I mean, just look at the portal the boys took to find the blade.
Between that, the spells cast by Sam and Magnus, the possession by Crowley, the demon eye transformations and Dean’s glowing forearm, we were treated to a bunch of magical moments. Good on ya, effects guys. As Alastair would say (but far less creepy) “I appreciate that.”
8. Magnus’ Mystery Tour
Finally, after their long strange trip, the boys (and Crowley, natch) discover the blade’s new home: it is in the possession of an excommunicated Man of Letters named Cuthbert Sinclair, who goes by the MOL pseudonym Magnus. Magnus, played with evil charm by Kavan Smith, is a collector of all things supernatural, a master spell caster, and an all-around egomaniac. He’s got the blade, and now he wants…you guessed it…to own Dean Winchester to make a matched set.
The masterful Jensen Ackles ran away with his scenes, as he tried, as Dean, to resist the power of the First Blade and the evil it summons within him. This storyline is getting intense and worrisome, and I, for one, am on the edge of my seat, wondering where Dean is headed. Magnus? Not so much headed as beheaded. Thanks to that powerful First Blade.
9. “Take me to my brother.”
Magnus figures out Dean’s heart pretty quickly. He knows the best way to get to Dean is through Sam. When Sam tries to rescue Dean from Magnus’ “zoo”, hissing “Take me to my brother” as he holds a knife to Magnus’ throat, we see the passion he still feels for Dean, no matter what they are going through. Dean, of course, sees that Magnus has tricked Sam, and the rage and pain in his face as Magnus threatens and slices Sam to manipulate him show that he feels just as deeply for the little brother he has always loved so well. In the end, when Dean struggles with the power of the blade coursing through him after he beheads Magnus, it is Sam who saves him from himself. It is Sam, saying, “Dean…put the blade down.” that gets through to him. Sam’s voice. Calling him home. In the midst of all this emotional turmoil, I needed to see that. To see that, in the end, the brothers still ultimately want to save and protect each other.
10. Baby, baby, baby..No!
In the end, Dean is deeply affected and changed by the blade. Sam is denied the opportunity to disassociate from Crowley (via killing him.) Abaddon is closing in and the threat looms larger than ever. The boys even lose possession of the blade to Crowley. And yet? None of that is the worst part for Dean. The ultimate insult is that demons have defaced Baby, keying her with an Enochian warning to Crowley from World’s Angriest Ginger.
Dean tries to wipe it away, but it is as carved on her exterior as the Mark of Cain is on his arm, and it is just as upsetting to see the defacing of something so beautiful. It seems like everything Dean loves is going bad. Including, most disturbingly, his own soul.
Next week, we learn even more about the Men of Letters, including (YAY!) Grandpa Henry Winchester. Plus you may have heard of the director. Something…Collins? I think? See you next week for “Mother’s Little Helper”.