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Supernatural 4.07 - It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester - I worship at the television altar
Supernatural 4.07 - It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester
This episode was an intriguing mix of monster and mytharc. As Sam and Dean hunted down the witch who was trying to summon Samhain, their every action was suddenly heavy with consequence, as we realized that more and more, it seems that Dean Winchester holds the fate of the world in his hands. At the end of the episode, as Dean faced the magnitude of what God seems to be asking of him, and Sam faced his shattered illusions about angels who walk among men, I faced the problems I’ve had with this arc since the season began, and decided once and for all if I’m in or I’m out.

I grew up in a household where I received a lot of mixed messages about religion. My grandparents were devout, my parents were alienated, and I long ago gave up on organized religion as the foundation of my belief system. Our spiritual relationships, if we have them, are deeply personal, and are usually a very sensitive subject, wrapped up as they are in our concepts of life and death, right and wrong, and good and bad. I’m not a person who confuses fantasy with reality, so I was quite taken aback at my emotional reaction to Dean’s first meeting with Castiel in the season opener, and to all the rest of their scenes together since then. Evidently the topic of God and his angels has the power to draw forth issues I have fought long and hard to repress.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been a Castiel girl from the start. Because I love the idea of angels as the warriors of God. Because I am seduced by the way Misha Collins plays him, with that gravelly voice and those weary eyes, so obviously fond of us mere mortals, and so worried about our fate. Because he pulled my boy Dean out of hell, and told him he was worthy of God’s grace. I think he wants to believe in Dean Winchester, and help him in his struggle to believe in himself. And yes, because he’s hot. :)

But an angel who questions his faith? A man saved from hell, who calls his divine rescuer a dick? I don’t think my minister grandfather would approve. I found myself in a state of near panic when Dean argued with Castiel, and said such disrespectful things about God. This week was the worst week of all, and I wondered if I should just stop watching. Wait. What? That’s just crazy talk! And that’s when I snapped out of it. For all that I love Supernatural, it is just a television show, there to help me escape my worries, not stir them up. Even if this season is all about religion, there’s no place for my personal baggage in the mix, especially when it prevents me from enjoying a rich, imaginative, exciting story about two boys fighting to defeat evil, save the world, and find their way back to one other, all at the same time.

And so I watched this episode again, and loved it. The first part was pure MotW, and it was great. Unsuspecting victims, gore I had to watch between my fingers, clueless teenagers, and hot boys in suits! Game on! I loved watching Sam and Dean at work, posing as FBI guys, doing research, and figuring it all out. We had all the classic elements: horny, hungry Dean, exasperated, indulgent Sam, the bizarre questions, the meaningful looks, a little funny, a little scary, and steady progress toward a showdown at which our boys were sure to prevail.

And then Castiel showed up in the boys’ motel room, and everything changed. I hated Uriel and his contempt for us, and my heart went out to Sam, shaken by an angel so different from what he had always imagined. How cute was Sammy when Dean first introduced Castiel, apologizing for saying OMG, and offering his hand so earnestly? Awww. I loved Castiel anew in that moment, as he clasped Sam’s hand in both of his. And Dean? He was my hero! I gloried in his every arrogant, insolent word. If I’m picking sides in this fight, I’m for the Winchesters all the way!

As the boys set off to finish the job, Sam was devastated by his encounter with Castiel and Uriel. Angels don’t necessarily revere human life, angels don’t necessarily show mercy, and worst of all, angels don’t necessarily like Sam Winchester, even if he is the faithful one. Dean took the time to reassure Sam, and it was a wonderful moment, where Dean not only supported his brother, but also made it clear he needs Sam to keep on believing, to offset his own natural cynicism, and to shore up his own newfound, tenuous faith.

The fight to the finish was awesome, what we love to see best, our boys saving people, hunting things, but it got a little sticky at the end. Despite Sam’s assurances that he was done with his demon powers, before the boys even got to the cemetery he was talking about using them. He didn’t even seem to understand why he shouldn’t. And we all knew that’s exactly where he would end up. When the boys’ eyes met across the crypt, as the demon smoke spilled from the wounds in Don’s chest, it broke my heart. Dean, stunned, couldn’t even move to help, to save his brother from himself. Oh, Sammy. I know it’s so good to feel the demons vanquished by your hand, with a power that is yours and yours alone, but can good be born out of evil? If God says no, I think the answer is no. And if Dean says no, I think you should listen.

So what about the reveal that this was a test for Dean? Did he pass or fail? And what exactly does God have planned for him? I’m scared for him, I’m proud of him, and I can't wait for him to show us all exactly what he's made of.

Each of the boys had a final meeting with an angel, Sam with Uriel and Dean with Castiel. Uriel was full of fury and dire promises, hostile as ever, evidently determined to put the fear of God into Sam. And he was a troublemaker as well, leaving Sam with a cryptic remark about Dean’s time in hell, which not only implied that Dean did something awful in his time there, but also that he was deliberately keeping it a secret from Sam.

Dean’s conversation with Castiel was entirely different. These two are forming a bond, opening up to one another, and finding common ground. They both love mankind, and are determined to save us. I’m glad that whatever is coming for Dean, Castiel will be by his side. He made reference to Dean’s time in hell as well, albeit much more obliquely. And Dean went absolutely still when he did. Oh, Dean, baby, what happened? And what insight does Castiel have about what lies ahead, exactly? Because the unwavering intensity of the look he gave Dean right before he disappeared scared me more than anything else in this episode.

Random thoughts: The title of this episode was interesting. That Peanuts special is all about having faith in the face of everyone and everything telling you you’re a fool. So maybe Sam needs to find the faith he’s always had and cling to it, even when his view of all that is holy has been turned upside down. Did Dean say he’d like to come back as a hot cheerleader? *snerk* “ASTRONAUT!!” hee! The way they filmed the sacrifice scene was very creepy, and very cool. Angels pray, too? And I loved that Castiel laughed at Dean’s joke. He likes him! He really likes him! :)

So I'm all in, and I'm ready to roll with whatever version of heaven, hell, and everything in between Kripke and his team dream up. I can't wait to see where the rest of this season is going to take us, and what we'll encounter along the way. I have faith in the show and faith in the boys. Whatever happens, in the end, Sam and Dean will never let each other down. That much I know to be true.

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15 comments or Leave a comment
trystan830 From: trystan830 Date: November 7th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)
ooooh another cool review! i need to figure out what i'm posting about 4x08 now... heh.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 13th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I'm desperately behind again! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, especially when I post so late! *hugs*
trystan830 From: trystan830 Date: November 14th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC) (Link)
you're quite welcome. :D
simplytoopretty From: simplytoopretty Date: November 7th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved the title of this episode, which might have set me up to like this episode. I just love Peanuts.

I find I can watch the religious stuff if I don't think about the religious stuff. I watch simply for entertainment and that keeps me from obsessing about the religious elements I dislike.

I’m scared for him, I’m proud of him, and I can't wait for him to show us all exactly what he's made of.

I agree with this statement. I want to see where the show goes.

Man do I have nothing to add. You really summed things up well. Hee, we agree with Supernatural!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 14th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I find I can watch the religious stuff if I don't think about the religious stuff.

I think you're right. I was giving it all entirely too much weight. The show really is about the entertainment for me, too. I just need to remember that. :)

Yay! I'm glad we agree on SPN! \o/ And I just today saw the promo pics for Bride. Can we also agree that Chloe/AM makes the most beautiful bride ever? Wow.
simplytoopretty From: simplytoopretty Date: November 14th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I started focusing on the religion stuff and it was taking away any and all enjoyment in SPN. Sometimes it's better not to think :)

Yes we can agree on that :) Those promo pictures of AM/Chloe are indeed lovely.
stoodupforlove From: stoodupforlove Date: November 7th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
The way the show is dealing with God and angels fascinates me. As a Bible-reading Christian, I can tell you that they (whether it be Kripke or the writers) have done their research well. I am invested in this storyline much more than I have been in any other, in any other TV show for that matter, because I can't wait to see how it plays out. Who better to fight for us than the Winchester brothers? I only wish we could be so lucky when Apocalypse does come about.

I will say this once, and I won't mention it again, because I'm not about pressing my faith on others. I came from a background very similar to yours, and by the time I was in high school, God didn't exist for me; it was a myth perpetuated by man to keep us in line, to keep us from thinking for ourselves. My mother tried for years and years to change my mind, and I asked her so many questions that she couldn't answer to my satisfaction, and so I was happy without God in my life.

But being the logical person I am, I decided that I couldn't really speak about something I didn't know. I talked about the Bible as if it was trash, completely untrue, but what right did I have to say that when I hadn't even read it? At least if I read it, I could back up my theories. So I buckled down and started reading the Bible, starting at the beginning. Almost a year later, I was only about 3/4 of the way through the Old Testament, and it happened. I believed. I was shocked at myself. It was like a light turned on in my heart and my brain, and I wondered how I had lived without God for so long. There's nothing logical about faith, and it's tough to keep it going when there's no proof. But once it's in your heart, your life will never be the same.

The reason I tell you all this is because it's possible you might someday be ready for the same thing. I hope I'm not offending you with all this God talk, I just think that if you were having the discomfort you spoke of above while watching Dean with Castiel, you might want to examine it more closely. I was amazed at how much of my mom's teaching stuck with me, even though I thought it had gone over my head.

So that's my piece. I'm done, and again--I hope I haven't offended you. I like you a whole lot and I wouldn't want to push you away.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 14th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I appreciate your comment, truly, but I may not have explained myself very well. What made me uncomfortable about that scene was that I couldn't stop my gut feeling that Dean was being blasphemous, and I guess my inability to criticize or even question my ingrained concept of God made Dean's insolence very upsetting to me. And that simultaneously made me face a decidedly close-minded attitude I hold within myself (and don't like), and the fact that I can take this show way too seriously. :)

I do believe in God, and I do read the Bible, it's churches, and the people who inhabit them, that drive me crazy. But that's just me. And of course you haven't offended me; I appreciate you opening your heart and sharing your experience. *hugs*
eeyore1017 From: eeyore1017 Date: November 7th, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have nothing of substance to add to your great review!
I did want to point out that the witch/cheerleader was played by Ashley Benson who used to play Abby on Days of Our Lives. She was also a cheerleader in Bring It On: In It To Win It (the 4th installment of the series) and a bitchy cheerleader in a Lifetime TV movie. I think she needs to branch out...I do like her though.

Edited at 2008-11-07 01:38 pm (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 14th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
She owns that bitchy cheerleader role! LOL!

Sorry I haven't been around. I've got work and personal crap tag teaming me at the moment. I miss you. :(
raputathebuta From: raputathebuta Date: November 7th, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great recap/review, Tariel!

*sigh* Our dear, sweet, troubled boys. I love that Dean wants Sam to hold on to his faith. I think you stated it perfectly: he needs Sam to keep on believing, to offset his own natural cynicism, and to shore up his own newfound, tenuous faith.

I also think this goes back to HotH & Dean knows that Sam also NEEDS to believe. If he can keep his faith in God & goodness, then he can believe in the goodness within himself.

I also love when Dean's arguing with Castiel & Uriel about the orders for smiting the town & Castiel brings up how Dean always followed John's orders. Neat little tie-in to past arguements we've seen between the boys.

You just KNEW Sam was going to be forced into using his powers. My only question is when he comes around the corner & sees what's happening, why didn't Dean pick up the knife & stab Don in the back? Obviously, Sammy was in trouble there. Maybe he didn't see the knife on the ground?

Also? Don/Samhain had to be very powerful. Poor Sammy was in some serious pain while exorcising him. Plus, nosebleed!!!!! Remember he told New!Ruby that the headaches had stopped? Guess that only applies to low-level exorcisms, eh? *pets Sammy*

I wonder if Uriel will be back? I can see a fight happening between he & Castiel over the boys. They've already argued about it. *shivers*
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 14th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Rap! I've been MIA for awhile, but I'm trying to find my way back.

I also think this goes back to HotH & Dean knows that Sam also NEEDS to believe. If he can keep his faith in God & goodness, then he can believe in the goodness within himself.

I love the way you put that, and I think it's so true. Our boys' lives are so complicated sometimes. And yet they soldier on. *loves them*

I liked the way Castiel brought up Dean's blind loyalty to John, too. But Dean's beyond that now, so I think that argument backfired. I think it reminded Dean of what he may now view as a mistake, and so further hardened his resolve. Although I think sometimes Dean thinks Sammy should just do what he says without question or argument! LOL! I loved the way Dean just ignored what Castiel said, and didn't rise to the bait.

I wondered why Dean didn't grab the knife and finish Samhain off, too. All I could figure was that he was so utterly stunned and dismayed to see Sam go there that he was frozen in shock. If I were Dean, I'd be waiting for God to smite Sam on the spot every time he used his power. I mean, he's been warned, he's defying God himself!

Ugh, I don't like uriel. He doesn't understand the boys AT ALL. ;)
zofia27 From: zofia27 Date: November 8th, 2008 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice job!

I personally really like the direction the show went this season and find it interesting that some people are having issues with the whole angels and God thing being brought in but seem perfectly OK with demons and hell and Lucifer. *shrugs*

In the end this is a TV show after all, albeit one that has created a richly woven tapestry over the years....and look at all the interesting discussions that it's creating around angels, God, and religion. Something you don't see from most horror shows.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 14th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
It makes perfect sense to have God and his angels join the party, and I admire Kripke so much for having the courage to go there. I was a bit blindsided by my own personal baggage in response to the subject matter, though. That was a surprise.

One of the things that makes me worship this show is how it's so much more than what you typically see from any television show, much less a genre one, in terms of exploring the depths of human emotion, the frailty of the human spirit, and the love between these brothers. The Winchester family may look dysfunctional from the outside, but most people would kill to have what our boys share.
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tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: November 14th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I miss so much having the time to be on LJ, but by the end of this month I should have my life back.

I appreciate that you understand the conflict I've been feeling, and I thank you for giving me another perspective! Your thoughtful comment is a review in itself, and I love your insights. What you say makes so much sense, and really, I need to give God more credit for knowing the boys, too. :)

Castiel became my hero when he took Sam's hand in his. That was such an important moment, and made me accept Castiel as an ally, without reservation, for the first time.

I like that our show is going where most shows wouldn't dare to tread, and I also think they're doing a great job with it. It's just one more reason to be proud to be a fan. Just don't hurt me, Kripke. ;)

That bellow of "ASTRONAUT!" was such a Dean moment, wasn't it? hee!
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