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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural 11×15 “Beyond The Mat”

The time has come for another Supernatural Roundtable. This week we are looking at episode 11×15 “Beyond The Mat” by Andrew Dabb. Contributors are Jackie Bojarski, Debbi Bach, Michele Villery.  We always encourage feedback, please leave your comments at the bottom.

Here are the topics:

Crossroads Demons:

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Debbi: The crossroads demon in this story who was using Gunnar to collect ‘willing’ souls for him, was quite an enterprising demon. Can’t collect enough yourself, get a condemned man to do it for you. You’ve got to wonder if he had any others working for him that heard the call of the hellhounds once Gunnar put an end to the demon. I loved that although he’d sold his soul for very little in the way of compensation and although he was working with the demon to extend his life, Gunnar in the end, did the honorable thing and I like to think it was his interaction with Sam and Dean that had him remembering that he’d been a hero to millions of kids through the span of his career.

Interesting that the Rod of Aaron – an acknowledged Hand of God – was also only charged for one-time use. The guys are going to have to be careful when they find the next one that it doesn’t get discharged prior to their final confrontation with Amara, assuming of course that a Hand of God will be effective against her. Misha Collins is bringing all kinds of good stuff to the table with his performance as Casifer. He has nailed the smarminess of Pellegrino and there are times I can actually believe Collins is possessed. I love seeing Misha (and Castiel) used to move the main storyline along. It seems that he’s been sidelined by circumstance (losing his grace) or preoccupation (angel politics) for far too many seasons. I’m truly enjoying Casifer and wouldn’t mind if they carry that over into season 12 (come on, you know it’s gonna happen) after they get Amara locked away. It would be a bit of a cheat (ala Demon!Dean) if they boot Lucifer out of the Castiel vessel too quickly and too easily.

Jackie: In light of how expansive the mythology of this show has gotten, it was nice to have crossroad demons revisited. Remember when crossroad demons were considered a formidable force before the angels, the devil, the leviathans, the Darkness? This crossroads demon, in particular, is much more opportunistic and ambitious than most, and I have to say that having him use the damned to help collect more souls was a great twist. I wouldn’t say that I was overwhelmingly infatuated with the storyline in this episode–I thought the writers were trying too hard to create a parallel between Gunner’s state of mind and Dean’s–but it did have some memorable moments. I appreciated that Gunner eventually saw the light so to speak due to realizing that he was an idol for a multitude of children, including Sam and Dean when they were young.

Michele: I always enjoyed the episodes featuring Crossroads Demons. We hadn’t seen one in a while and I’m always struck as to who wants to sell their souls and why. Gunnar’s reasoning for collecting souls for the demon fits into this so well. I really enjoyed Aleks Paunovic and Mike “The Miz” Mizanin int his episode. Both were really great in their roles. Seeing Dean fangirling over his idol “Gunnar” and running the ropes was a highlight that I had to actually re-watch.

Crowley:

Debbi: I’m kind of digging the shake-up in hell. I love that the demons aren’t quite sure where they stand with Casifer and yet don’t quite want to go all out awful on Crowley… just in case, he makes a comeback. I admit that I was taken in by the demon who freed Crowley, I really wanted her to be on his side. I feel so bad for him! I know, he’s a demon, he’s the King of Hell and I feel bad for him…. that’s just how good the script and Mark Sheppard are at making us feel Crowley’s pain and his pain is exquisite. Cleaning the floor with his tongue almost seemed over the top, but then… nah, Crowley had pretty much given Luci the finger after he ended up in the cage. The demon deserves all the Casifer can dish out.

Jackie: So, I found the Casifer and Crowley scenes in this episode to be the dullest part. This is no reflection on Mark Sheppard and Misha Collins; both continue to impress as actors, although Collins’ impression of Pellegrino’s Lucifer did start to wade into caricaturistic waters again in this episode. It’s just that I’m not particularly interested in the politics of Heaven or Hell anymore, nor am I interested in watching the writers attempt to sell the idea that Lucifer could be intimidated by a demon. King of Hell or not, Crowley is still a demon whereas Lucifer is an Archangel; do the writers actually expect us to believe that he could be outsmarted by someone like Crowley? More so, do the writers expect us to believe that an angel like Cas–an angel whose power was already depleted before he was possessed–could ever overpower Lucifer? In order to make this storyline work, I feel like the writers are dumbing Lucifer down, making him less of a threat, and that bothers me. On the other hand, it is possible that Cas was only able to overpower Lucifer because of the power that Lucifer drained from Sam’s soul, and that Crowley is only a match for Lucifer because he has demonic allies…

And then there’s the Hand of God situation. Finding the Rod of Aaron was a lucky break–but instead of saving this weapon to use against Amara, it was once again wasted. Are Hands of God just lying around? How many are there? Hopefully, Sam and Dean can find another one!

Michele: Finally, Crowley gets the upper hand. This is the Crowley I have missed. The sneaky, badass King of Hell. So Crowley had the Rod of Aaron….What else does Crowley have and where? It’s a shame that he used it. I guess these can only be used just once. As always, Mark Sheppard is amazing and Misha Collins did a pretty good job as Casifer in this episode. I do wonder though how can two angels be in a vessel without something happening to the vessel?

Sam and Dean:

Debbi: It’s so easy at times to forget just how long Sam and Dean have been at the Hunter game. When an episode takes us back to their childhoods the bitter fact that there were very, very few times they were allowed to actually be children is heart-shredding. Dean was absolutely adorable fangirling at the wake, cheering at the match (and being disappointed to not get Lawless’ glove) and playing wrestling in the empty ring afterward. It was so much fun to see Dean shed his tough guy image and just play… it also nearly made me cry for the little boy who had to grow up so quickly. Damn you Ackles! You are just too, too good at this!

Sam… Sam this year has been just amazing. Here is the hero, the big brother, the steadying influence that he’s always been meant to be. While he too was excited to meet his wrestling idols, he was able to step out of it and look indulgently at his older brother who was clearly realizing some boyhood dreams. It’s clear that Sam has Dean’s back and that he is not going to let him down. Their relationship appears to be growing stronger though this year as their roles are reversed and they are becoming more comfortable with them. I just love the dynamic between these two and think that the writers, producers, directors, etc. have got it right.

Jackie: loved watching Sam and Dean relaxing and having fun for the first time in a while. I always miss that aspect of their relationship when it’s absent from the show for too long. However, I wish the writers would have incorporated both brothers into this episode better. One of my major issues with the series lately is the tendency to sideline Sam–to send him off to “research” for a significant portion of the episode–in order to let Dean have time to bond with other characters and guest stars, alone. And that’s what happened in this episode, much to my disappointment.

However, I still enjoyed Sam and Dean’s fanboy moments. Dean, in particular, was adorable; watching him playing around in the ring was definitely one of the highlights of the episode (but it would’ve been so awesome if both brothers had been playing around in the ring, but I guess you can’t have everything). In addition, I got a kick out of watching him try to keep his cool around his wrestling idols.

And Sam…..Sam was so cute that I wanted to take a picture to commemorate the moment. Having him come face-to-face with his first touch was a nice touch, although I have to wonder about the whole poster over the bed thing. Anyway, I hope we get more brother moments in the future!

Michele: This was the best part of the episode for me. We forget that due to their upbringing the brothers didn’t have much of a childhood. Seeing them happy at a wrestling match made me want to take a snapshot of the moment and put it in Sam’s memory box. It was so great to see them have fun.

I loved Sam seeing his first crush, Rio. It was sweet seeing him blush and keep his cool around the singer/ring announcer. (What about that poster over his bed?) Also, let’s not forget Dean and his fangirling over Gunnar. That was great seeing him run the ropes and pretend for a brief moment that he was a part of the action. That was another highlight for me.

Predictions:

 

Debbi: Tough to come up with anything new as this episode, while giving us movement in the main story arc, doesn’t give us a whole lot to work with. I maintain (and I’m pretty sure I’ve written this previously) that Casifer and the boys will be successful in putting Amara away this season. I’ve posited that we may see a return of Rowena to make this happen, but that is my not so secret wish. I don’t think that the guys will be able to both put Amara away and deal with expelling Lucifer from Castiel. I could see and end scene where the boys have given it their best shot and the smoke clears and there is Casifer, smirking in all his glory. Smash cut to Rowena who is being held somewhere in hell, waiting for her master to return. I’d love to see it come down to Lucifer and Rowena on one side and Sam and Dean on the other with Crowley forced again to make a choice! So many ways this could play out.

Jackie: I think that Sam and Dean are going to track down more Hands of God, and Crowley will turn to the Winchesters for support in order to beat Lucifer. Other than that, I have no idea what’s going to happen!

Michele: I think Sam and Dean with help from Crowley will find more Hands of God. I don’t think Lucifer will stay in Cas much longer either. I don’t know if Cas’ vessel can hold him. I do think that once they find the Hands of God, they’ll be able to send Amara away. I also think we’ll see Rowena back, they’ll need her to unlock the codex as a Plan B to defeat Amara if they can’t find more Hands of God.

Overall Score:

Debbi: This had everything that a really good episode of Supernatural needs. Bromance, a bad guy who finds his heart and soul, a cringe-worthy villain and someone who is biding his time waiting for revenge. There were great performances by everyone, including the guest stars and I give this episode an A+.

Jackie: I’d give this episode a C+. Despite its cute moments, the episode failed to impress and felt lackluster at parts. Hopefully, the next few episodes are of a different caliber.

Michele: I’m giving this episode a B-. There were a lot of cute moments for me with the brothers that made up for other things that were lacking. The supporting cast was fun and very good.

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