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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural 11×9 “O’Brother Where Art Thou”

Welcome to another edition of the Supernatural Roundtable. We are talking about the mid-season finale 11×9 entitled “O Brother, Where Art Thou” directed by Bob Singer. We have a lot to talk about this week. Especially the epic return of Mark Pellegrino! We have Michele Villery, Jackie Bojarski, Tracy Miller, Debbi Bach and Stacy Miller. Feel free to join in the conversation by commenting below.

Topics:

Amara:

Jackie: though Emily Swallow did a wonderful job as Amara. She depicted her as dangerous with this air of innocence that surprised me. I do hope that they allow her to grow into a villain and don’t take the “poor Amara, she was so misunderstood” route. I thought her desperation to find God was very intriguing and believable, and I love that we got to see her learn about God’s relationship with his creations.

Stacy: The fully grown Amara is back, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Not to downplay the work performed by all the excellent child actresses but with the scenes between Amara and Dean and the confrontation between Amara and God, I’d rather these be played by an adult actress due to their intense and sensitive nature. Emily Swallow’s Amara exhibited all the characteristics of a powerful and ticked off entity. She wanted, no demanded, God’s attention by smiting a flock of his worshippers. Additionally, a few angels proved no match for her power. But deep down, Amara wanted God’s attention even to the extend of being destroyed by him. I hope that we haven’t seen the last of her and that God just called her “upstairs” to discuss her behavior.

Tracy: While I credit the acting talents of the young actresses who assumed the role of Amara, I think that having Emily Swallow’s return as adult Amara was necessary for the progression of the story. Swallow’s work in the teaser was chilling. We saw an Amara unwilling to accept the religious leaders’ beliefs in God. The more the argument was advanced in support of God, the more angry she became. Human lives became expendable as she sought God’s attention.

Debbi: I’m not sure I love the actor playing Amara. I really thought all the versions of her were great and maybe that’s where my sense of disappointment comes from. That said, she definitely gives off a sense of being older than she is while still being somewhat naïve about how her brother’s universe works. I think they could have put her in a more flattering dress and while her flat delivery of her lines is probably in character, it kind of bugged me. All that said, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with and can definitely pitch a monumental fit. I’m not quite sure what her end game is and I don’t trust her at all. I’m hoping the actor grows on me as we see more of ‘adult’ Amara.

Michele: Emily Swallow was fabulous in this episode. As much as I loved the younger actresses that played Amara, Emily has been amazing as well. Amara is angry. She is mad at her brother (God) for locking her up and she wants to know why. She’s also curious about creation. Up until this episode, she doesn’t realize God has abandoned everyone. She’s seemed confused and upset that people would choose to align and believe in someone who has left them. So what does she do? She hurts his believers so that he takes notice. I’m interested to hear what their issue was and was that God who threw a bolt of lightning at her? Will she try to take over Heaven since her brother isn’t there? So many questions!

Amara & Dean:

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Jackie: So, I was very dubious about the Amara/Dean storyline at the beginning, and I still wish they would avoid turning her into a love interest for him. However, I can’t deny that Emily and Jensen have amazing chemistry and I really loved their scenes together. Upon later reflection, I started to realize how much what she was saying to Dean mirrored what Lucifer said to Sam in season 5, which got me thinking that Amara might be seducing Dean into being her vessel. That would certainly explain her comment that they would “be one soon.” I’m definitely interested to see what happens next!
I did scratch my head over what broke Dean out of the trance/mind control thing he was in. Before, he had a stimulus: Sam getting hurt. This time, however, it seemed like he snapped out of it for no reason.

Anyway, I hope that Dean tells Sam about his bond with Amara so that they can better prepare themselves and ward her off!

Stacy: These scenes showed that Amara still felt a strong connection with Dean. He is her bliss and she would do anything to protect him. She zapped him out of the picture when it was time to face God’s wrath for her actions.

Tracy: Amara & Dean connection was further explained this episode. The Mark of Cain links them, a symbol of their intertwined destinies. Her confession to Dean that she is the beginning and the end is foreshadowing

Debbi: There is a weird dynamic between these two. The fact that Dean didn’t answer Sam’s call is kind of scary, although he could have thought Amara was going to start killing off some more people and felt confronting her was the priority…. still, not answering the phone seemed more than a little off in terms of the Dean we’ve known. As I write that, it occurs to me that Dean wouldn’t necessarily be the Dean we’ve known since there is no way that anyone could bear the MOC for any amount of time and come away unchanged so maybe we can’t guess what Dean would do any more in a given situation. I can see how this ‘bond’ he shares with Amara could mess him up enough to affect his judgement as well.
The scenes with Amara and Dean together were well written and there seemed to be quite a game of cat and mouse going on between them. The camera angles for these scenes were well thought out too. There was definitely tension between them and the kiss they shared was less about passion and more about solidarity. I felt as though Amara was using the kiss to show Dean they are definitely in this fight together. It seemed almost as if Amara was staking her claim on Dean – much like a captain chooses players for a softball game. While she may believe she’s claimed him I think that Dean Winchester is still a strong enough individual to fight against their bond when push comes to shove again. Dean’s bond with his brother will always come first, Amara just doesn’t realize it yet.

Michele: Emily and Jensen have such amazing chemistry. I did enjoy their scenes together. I was proud that Dean did try to break free of the mind control she had over him. He does realize how much of a threat she is, but the pull is something he can’t explain. I think he finally realized that and I do think again that is why he hasn’t told Sam. I do think that Dean’s bond with Sam is the thing that breaks the hold she has over him. How this unfolds will be interesting for the second half of the season.

Lucifer:

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Jackie: Seeing Mark Pellegrino back as Lucifer was definitely the highlight of the episode, and his scenes with Jared (Sam) were amazing. The two of them have amazing chemistry, which makes their scenes together a joy to watch. I don’t know if I believe him that he was the one sending Sam the visions–he does have a history of lying to Sam in order to mess with his head–but I definitely think that he sent him some of them. I really hope that we see more of Lucifer!

However, I did raise my eyebrow over how easy it was to summon Lucifer out of the cage into the temporary cage. Is he physically there? Can he escape? If the Book of the Damned made it so easy, why wouldn’t Lilith have chosen to use that instead of breaking the seals? It certainly would’ve saved her time!

Stacy: Lucifer is back! Mark Pellegrino plays the Prince of Darkness with the charm and snarky wit that is the perfect epitome of the character. Lucifer tried to convince Sam that he was willing to help him with The Darkness. His willingness to let ‘bygones, be bygones’ i.e. “You trapped me in The Cage, no big” should have put out serious red flags for Sam. I found myself yelling at Sam, “No, don’t trust him!” and really angry that Sam didn’t wait for Dean. Why, oh why, oh why do Sam and Dean separate during big showdowns with the bad guys? Haven’t they learned from past experiences that this never turns out well? But when Lucifer revealed that he was the one giving Sam the Hell visions and not God, I wasn’t surprised. I believed since the beginning of the season that the Hell visions were coming from Hell and not divine intervention.

Tracy: Welcome back, Mark Pellegrino! While Pellegrino has been absent from the show’s canvas for several years, he effortlessly walked back into Lucifer’s evil shoes. Lucifer is the master manipulator and even in the pseudo cage, he controlled the situation. I’m still not convinced that he was telling Sam the truth that he had sent the visions. I feel that he wanted to disarm Sam of the faith that Sam felt that God was listening and lending assistance.

Debbi: Mark Pellegrino is brilliant in this role. He is creepy and threatening, even when playing nice. The lighting for his scenes with Jared in hell was perfect! It alternately showed Lucifer as benign and threatening depending on the shadows. I never doubted that Sam’s visions were from Lucifer, I hoped and prayed they weren’t, but I knew that would have been too easy and it’s never easy for the Winchesters. Lucifer is one of the master manipulators of all time and this game was right up his alley. The glee that Luci took in breaking Sam’s belief that God had spoken to him and was backing his play was phenomenal.

Of course Lucifer wants out of that cage again! Even with Michael to play with he’s got to be bored silly after tasting freedom in the 21st century. Why not make a play for his perfect vessel once he felt the darkness return?

I’m so glad that they were able to get Pellegrino to reprise his role! He is a perfect Lucifer, even though I think that Luci’s corporeal vessel (which he’d ditched to hitch a ride with Sam) shouldn’t be available. Of course, in hell Luci can probably appear as anything and anyone he wants. If he should escape the cage again without Sam’s help and keeps that vessel I would cry foul since it would be inconsistent with canon.

Michele : Welcome back Mark Pellegrino!! I’m actually surprised that they got Mark back since he’s on two hit shows, but I’m not complaining in the least. It’s been several years since we’ve seen Luci and he’s more cunning and vicious than ever. I do wonder if what we were seeing was a projection of him. Because for one thing, why wasn’t Michael (Adam) in the Cage with him? Also, why is he wearing his old vessel, Nick, which was melting just before Sam said yes? But then again, he’s Lucifer and can do what he wants but those are the questions I had.

And of course, he wanted to ride Sam again to get out. (Luci’s not stupid. He always has a catch.) If he gets out with the current vessel he’s in without Sam, it dismisses canon and I’ll pitch a fit. But Mark is brilliant, and he’s so funny as Lucifer. It’ll be interesting in January because I have a feeling we’re going to hear about Sam’s time in The Cage and if Lucifer can really help the boys with Amara.

Also, why was it so difficult in seasons 4/5 to open The Cage and this time it only took the Book of the Damned? Don’t you need The Rings too? If so, where are they? Also what about the seals and Lilith, is the Book just another opening for the Cage?

Rowena:

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Jackie: Rowena was a delight in this episode, and seeing her fangirl over Lucifer was hysterical. I guessed that she was going to do something to release him and get back at Sam, but was horrified to find out that the spell out Sam back in the temporary cage with Lucifer. I’m not sure if she and Crowley are cohorts now–they certainly seemed buddy-buddy–but I’m anxious to find out!

Stacy: Evil’s ultimate Fangirl! The way Rowena was gushing over Lucifer like he was a long-lost Beatle or something was hilarious! I expected her to perform another spell in which she could transport herself into The Cage so she could rip his clothes off LOL. Kudos to Ruth Connell. Has Lucifer found a new follower to do his bidding?

Tracy: Ruth Connell plays Rowena with a comfortable ease. Rowena walks the tightrope between being a villain inherently evil to being a humorous addition to the dark texture of the show. She had some of the best dialogue in the episode. I especially enjoy the mind games she continues to play with the brothers and how enamored she was by Lucifer. The self-proclaimed leader of The Mega Coven was clearly smitten with the Fallen Angel, Prince of Darkness Lucifer.

Debbi: I love Ruth Connell! She is brilliant as this witch with her sassy attitude and her contempt for the Winchesters as well as for her son. I don’t trust this woman! She appeared way, way too calm when the wards failed and Sam was taken into the cage with Lucifer. I have to wonder if, since Lucifer was able to communicate through the cracks Amara’s arrival put in his prison, he didn’t reach out and touch more people than just Sam. Could Rowena be working with Luci? Did he promise her the return of the codex and key? Rowena has never been a team player and has proven that she can’t really be trusted, so can Lucifer trust her? I don’t think so, I believe Rowena loves Rowena and everything she does is to further her own ambitions. It will be fun to see her mess with Luci’s head or more likely, vice versa!

Michele: I’m laughing while I write this because Ruth Connell was hysterical in this episode. Her fangirling over Lucifer literally had me laughing out loud at times. It also had me wondering if the two had crossed paths before. After all, she was very quick to let that warding spell stop and put Sam in that Cage without batting an eyelash. She’s manipulative and smart. She’s also two steps ahead of everyone.  I have a feeling we may see a Lucifer/Rowena team up in the near future with some crazy consequences.

Sam:


Jackie: Jared’s acting was brilliant in this episode. His emotion and fear was palpable, and my heart broke to see Sam cast back into a cage with Lucifer. I’m unsure as to why Sam couldn’t have waited for Dean to come back before going. I know that Rowena was making it sound urgent that they do it right that second, but it was unclear as to why. Nevertheless, I hope Dean rescues him from the cage as soon as possible!

Stacy: I’m totally angry at Sam and scared for him at the same time. As I previously mentioned, why did he separate from Dean? He should have waited until he heard back from his brother. If I were facing a dangerous situation and my call to my sister went to voicemail, unless I’d die if I didn’t face the situation alone, I’d wait. Now, Sam is in a serious mess with no way of contacting Dean. How is he going to get out of it?

Tracy: Jared Padalecki’s strength as an actor continues to be evident with the weighty emotional material he has been given in Season 11. Sam’s interaction with Lucifer was the focal point of the episode for me and Padalecki and Pellegrino succeeded with the acting challenges they were given. It was the proverbial cat and mouse, a duel of wills between these characters. While Sam’s current position is precarious, it still remains to be seen if he will emerge victorious.

Debbi: Poor Sam. Poor, disheartened Sam. I can’t imagine the depth of despair he felt when Lucifer told him who was behind his visions and why. Jared Padalecki has been consistently good so far this year and he doesn’t disappoint in this episode. The look on Sam’s face as the episode faded out was heartbreaking. He had been strong enough to say no to possession and ended up caged anyway. For a brief moment you could see young Sam in Jared’s expression, the way he looked when he was left behind by his father, again. I was close to tears myself and I had fully expected this outcome.

I was talking to another fan tonight (@jonluc67) and she reminded me that Cain had told Dean that Able thought that he was receiving messages from God as well and that it had been Lucifer all along. Kind of too bad Dean didn’t remember than when the boys were talking about Sam’s plan in the bunker….not that it would have stopped them, but maybe Sam would have been better prepared.

Michele: Jared has been knocking it out of the park this entire season and this episode was no exception. His heartbreak upon realizing that it was Lucifer sending him those visions made me cry a bit. And he’s back in the Cage! (NO!) I do wish he had waited for Dean and not listened to Rowena. But then again, Amara’s control wouldn’t have stopped Dean from going to her. Jared and Mark Pellegrino’s chemistry is simply amazing. The back and forth banter, the terror…was brilliant. He really wanted to believe it was God sending them those visions.

Crowley:

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Jackie: I enjoyed Crowley’s scenes in this episode, as always. Mark Sheppard is so brilliant and talented, and he adds so much nuance to his scenes. I do wonder if Crowley is going to lose his position as King of Hell now that Lucifer is back.

Stacy: I still don’t understand why Crowley continues to come when The Winchesters call. I guess it’s the love/hate relationship he has with them. I wonder if Crowley is somehow secretly working with Lucifer to get revenge against Sam and Dean.

Tracy: Why does Crowley continue to work with the Winchesters? For that matter, why do the boys continue to trust Crowley? Further, if Lucifer is back, does this undermine Crowley’s Hell regime? Last season in “Do You Believe in Miracles”, Crowley lamented to Dean that “Hell was complicated.” If there are any remaining Lucifer loyalists, I suspect that Crowley’s days as King of Hell are numbered.

Debbi: Crowley was legitimately surprised when the wards failed and when the show returns in January, I think we’ll see him confront Rowena about this in greater detail. On the other hand, I don’t think he was that surprised to learn that Amara is God’s sister – his response to that news seemed more than a little fakey. I can’t figure out why he’d let her get away (assuming he could have held her) and I don’t think he’s working with her now. Amara doesn’t seem like the type to have a partner, other than the former bearer of the MOC with whom she shares a bond, but it really feels like Crowley is hiding something.

Michele: I really enjoyed Crowley in this episode. Mark Sheppard is so talented.But I do wonder what his endgame is in all of this. Is he siding with Rowena just to screw her over? After all, she did try to kill him, not once, but twice. Also, he’s too calm. Something is really up with him and I can’t put my finger on it. He went with Rowena too quickly.

Predictions:


Jackie: Dean’s gonna be PISSED, and I hope we see him in a rage over Crowley and Rowena betraying them and trapping Sam with Lucifer. I think we’ll find out that Amara needs Dean as a vessel because hers has an expiration date. I also think that Castiel is going to make a deal to get Sam out of the cage.

Stacy: Sam will try to fight his fear of The Cage and Lucifer’s taunting until he can figure a way out or until Dean can rescue him (hopefully). I think that God may come to Sam’s rescue and get him out of The Cage the way he got him and Dean out of the church and on the airplane in “Sympathy for the Devil.” Sam continues to have a strong faith despite life’s disappointments and tragedies so it will help him survive.

Tracy: How will Sam get out of his predicament. I think the experience in the Cage will change him. He will become more jaded. His faith in his own judgment and God has been tested. I sense that Dean will make some kind of deal to save his brother, but I’m not sure as to with whom this deal will be made.

Debbi: Dean is going to pitch a monumental fit when he finds out Sam’s locked up with Lucifer again. If Dean could bring lightning down and turn water to blood with a tantrum, this would do it. A small part of me thinks that Dean would even work with Amara if it meant he’d get Sam back mentally stable and in one piece. Sam on the other hand would hate that.

As frightened and abandoned as Sam is at the end of the episode, I think he has greater reserves than he once did and that Lucifer is going to find him a very different Sam Winchester and not so easy to break. We saw evidence of Sam’s inner reserves as he researched a cure for the rabid plague even as it was taking him over. Sam has changed and I think he’s more than a match for Lucifer. I don’t think this is a possibility, but how cool would it be if Sully would show up – even in Sam’s head as a vision, to help him resist and keep sane? It think it would rock!

Was that God (Chuck?) that swept Amara away? I have no prediction here, other than I think that God will need to show up at some point this season as Amara continues to provoke him.

So, who’s going to get Sam back? I’ve got a couple of thoughts on this. The first and most obvious being Castiel. He’s got to be almost fully healed by now and he did raise Dean from hell so he’s not without experience. Does he have enough juice on his own to get Sam out of the cage? Will Cas have to figure out a way to get the archangels back to assist with Sam’s rescue and the capture and imprisonment of Amara? Could there be a spell in the Book of the Damned that could make this a possibility?

My other thought goes back to the first episode of the season and the appearance of Billie. She was singing the song that originally introduced Death to the series and she appears in a hospital full of death. Sure, she claims she’s a reaper, but what was Death, but the king of the reapers. A being old enough to have been around when God started creating. Can you really kill a being that old or did he just require a new vessel? Another fact that leads me in this direction is Billie’s speech to Sam about no more reboots for the Winchesters. You would think there’d have to be someone in charge of the reapers making that kind of a decision….. food for thought.

Michele: Dean is going to go nuclear when he finds out Sam is back in that Cage. Who will he turn to? Maybe Amara? Maybe Billie? Although, Billie said no more bargains, maybe there will be just one more bargain Dean can make. Also, is Billie really a reaper? I don’t think you can kill Death. He’s just as old as God. I’m with Debbi, I have a feeling she’s a vessel for Death. And Debbi’s right. Who gave that rule about ‘The Empty?” Someone had to. Will they get Cas’ help in getting Sam out of the Cage? I don’t know about that because the last time that happened, Sam came back without a soul.

Overall Score:

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Jackie: B.

Stacy: The mid-season finale, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” was a solid episode. As I have some issues/questions with some of the information presented in order to classify it as excellent, I have to give it a ‘B’.

Tracy: B.

Debbi: For all the superior acting in this episode, I think it has its faults. Some of the dialogue seemed disingenuous and maybe it was meant to be that way, but it distracted me from the overall plot. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad episode, just not as good as some of the others. I’m going to give this a ‘B-‘ for those bits and pieces that rang false.

Michele: There was such amazing acting by all in this episode, but there were some plot holes for me that I couldn’t get past. Hopefully, we’ll get answers in the mid-season premiere. Not a bad episode, I just had some issues with it. B- for me.

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