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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural 11×19 “The Chitters”

We’re back with another Supernatural roundtable! This week we are discussing episode 11×19, “The Chitters,” directed by The Blair Witch Project’s Eduardo Sanchez. This week’s episode was written by Nancy Won. Our participants are Jackie Bojarski, Michele Villery, Debbi Bach, Destini Nash, Terri Clark and our special guest, Kelly Silva!

As always we love hearing your feedback. If you would like to comment or even participate as a future guest, leave us a comment. Here’re this week’s topics:

Sam and Dean:

Supernatural -- "The Chitters" -- Image SN1119b_0027.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jensen Ackles as Dean and Jared Padalecki as Sam -- Photo: Liane Hentscher/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Kelly: I thought that Dean looked tired and worn down with worry about Castiel.  Typical for Dean to be riddled with guilt over gambling with Cas/Lucifer to defeat Amara and instead she captured him.  Sam knows that they don’t have any other leads on Cas so his only option is to try to get Dean to focus on a hunt.  As always my favorite scenes are when Sam and Dean are together. I can’t get enough tidbits of Sam’s life at Stanford. I love Dean teasing Sam about smoking pot or oregano when he was eighteen.   I also thought it was telling of Sam’s childhood and how much he worried about John and Dean when they were out hunting and late to return.  How terrifying for a Sam to start planning his future utterly alone at such a young age.

Jackie: For the most part, I feel like Sam and Dean were very well-written in this episode, with the exception of the opening conversation about Castiel. It’s really bothered me this season that the writers have dialed down Sam’s concern for Cas this season in order to accentuate Dean’s concern. Both Winchesters care about Cas; I just wish the writers would remember that.

With that said, I really enjoyed all of Sam and Dean’s scenes with each other and with the two new hunters. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have a unique chemistry–a chemistry that, since season one, has made their relationship one of the most engaging ones of the show. In addition, I felt that each of their individual scenes with Jesse and Hugo was emotionally gripping.

The only thing I would’ve changed was the scene near the end, in which Sam and Dean agree not to get Jesse and Cesar involved with Amara and drive off. It felt stunted and rushed, like there was more to be said. I kept expecting there to be another scene. Other than that, this episode did an excellent job of allowing both brothers to shine.

Destini: I loved Sam and Dean’s characterizations in The Chitters! For the most part, they were very true to the character. So much of their relationship was reinforced with both Jesse and Matty’s and Jesse and Cesar’s, which lead to amazing parallels.

I defended Sam’s hesitance to help Castiel in the previous episode because at that time it felt as though he was thinking about the bigger picture and didn’t want to jump in- just exorcising angels without a follow-up plan. Now, I’m starting to get concerned that the writers are portraying him as significantly less bothered than Dean, and that’s a bit problematic.

Sam and Dean both see Castiel as a friend, and I assume they are trying to have Sam be the “strong one” and keep Dean from becoming too obsessed with finding a solution, but I wanted to see a tiny bit more empathy from Sam WHILE getting Dean to pick up this hunt as a bit of a distraction from researching the Darkness/Castiel situation.

Debbi: In her second episode, Nancy Won continues to show us that she both understands the Winchesters and their dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship and that she loves them.

Sam continues to be the caretaker and the leader of the team as Dean struggles with both Amara and her threat as well as the disappearance of Castiel.  Dean is consumed with the search for where Amara has taken Cas and Sam, while understanding Dean’s need to get their friend back, knows that his brother is a man of action and almost thinks better when on a case than when confronted by a wall of books and lore.  I really like this new, equal partners’ relationship between the two of them.  They divide and conquer and work together effortlessly.  This is the true beauty of their team and it works.  They’ve faced just about everything possible and have come through stronger and more committed to their chosen quest than ever.

Michele: Ok, we understand that Cas needs saving, but do we need reminding every episode?  It’s the only minor issue I have.  I’m getting confused with Dean’s character a bit because of it.  And I do like Sam taking on the role of protector in this case since it’s him that insists on getting back to work.  When they take on the Bissam, it’s an equal partnership.  They divide and conquer equally to do what they have to do.  It’s my favorite part of their relationship.

They may not always agree, but they are there with each other to the end. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki were brilliant in this episode.

 

Jesse and Cesar :

spnthechitters

Kelly: First I want to say kudos to Supernatural for all the diversity that this episode embraced.  I really liked both Jesse and Cesar.  Jesse came across as a hunter on a mission.  I was glad when he was able to get closure on the loss of his brother.  Cesar came across as a strong yet sympathetic hunter who was happy to be getting out of the life with this last hunt.

Jackie: I loved these two! Lee Rumohr and Hugo Ateo both did an exceptional job in this episode, selling their relationship as real as well as relatable. In many ways, they reminded me a lot of Sam and Dean, except for the obvious difference. Hopefully, they haven’t hung up their spurs permanently!

Destini: So great job for sparing a gay couple, CW! On the initial note of Jesse, I had to make sure I wasn’t hearing things when his younger self was talking about his boy crush. My excitement over that quickly turned into fear because I’m innately terrified of the treatment of LGBTQIA characters on television now.

Jesse in his older age showed a lot of resentment towards his town and the situation he had to grow up in, and it was heart-warming to see Cesar there as his other half to help keep him together and help him through this. Perhaps I had missed this tidbit but I was so curious to know if Cesar took up hunting specifically to help Jesse find closure? That would’ve been beyond romantic!

Either way, it was so great to see a strong hunting couple working together. They had very realistic emotional range, they weren’t perpetuating stereotypes of homosexuality, and they weren’t killed, for goodness sakes!

Debbi: I love this couple and I love that the Winchesters have met hunters that have been previously unknown to them.  This makes so much sense when you consider how insular the hunter community is and how solitary the hunter life becomes.

Cesar’s love for Jesse is beautiful and this is someone who has needed this kind of love and acceptance from the time his brother was attacked and killed.  Jesse is bitter and fueled by revenge, but why wouldn’t he be?  He watched the one person who accepted him for who he was dragged away screaming.  If that’s not a scenario that would inspire rage, bitterness and a thirst for revenge, then I don’t know what would be.

I also loved that Jesse promised Cesar that once he’d found his brother and avenged his death that they would quit the life, settle down and raise horses.  Each man in this relationship is supportive of the other and they adopt common goals with their ultimate life set as their reward.  It is truly wonderful to see a pair of hunters actually get a chance to walk away and chase happiness for a change.  I did hope (albeit very briefly) that the writers might keep Cesar and Jesse around to help with the end game with Amara, but loved Dean, perhaps realizing that he and Sam will never get the opportunity to walk away, encouraging Cesar and Jesse to chase their dream.  Both Sam and Dean have shown amazing growth this season.

Michele: KUDOS to Nancy Won for introducing this great couple.  I loved the fact they were hunters. I loved the fact that due to Jesse losing his brother, he had a quest for revenge (remind you of Sam and John Winchester with Mary and Jess?)  until the deed was over.  I loved Cesar’s love for Jesse and his unwavering support.  He let him grieve when he needed to and let him lean on him.

I loved how both of them, when the Bissam’s were killed,  decided to retire.   They had goals and plans.  The look of relief after it was all over made me happy that they were able to retire from that life.  However, I wouldn’t mind seeing them come out of retirement if the Winchester’s needed them.

 

Bissam:

 

Kelly: I love the monster of the week episodes.  I liked the concept of a Bissan.  It comes out to breed and then it dies.  Kudos to Nancy Won for making my skin crawl when Dean came upon the maternity ward and he shined his flashlight on the host to see the larvae moving around.

Jackie: This might be the creepiest monster that the writers have come up with in awhile. I loved the mythology surrounding them because it reminded me a bit of the movie “Jeepers Creepers,” and I thought the special effects used to bring them to life were exceptionally used. Moreover,  these creatures allowed for quite a few moments of profound humor, from Dean deeming them “Junkless” to the awkward discussion of orgy-ish behavior in a witness’s living room. That’s what makes this show so great–that blend of horror and humor–so let’s hope it continues!

Destini: The monster of the week was interesting. It wasn’t in your face terrifying, but more creepy and unsettling. I did feel that the climb up to things getting heated was a bit slow. It might have had to do with the nature of the monster; needing to set up all the lore, get the whole “he said, she said,” miscommunication out there for the audience so they aren’t exactly sure what’s going on right off the bat, etc.

In general, I am more of a fan of the MOTW episodes because they tend to give us a lot of ranged interaction with the brothers. It’s not just a stressful situation for the whole episode – there’s humor, there’s introspection, there’s reinforcement of Sam and Dean’s tested and tried relationship.

After 11 seasons of seeing both of these two men go through hell, it’s honestly great to see them have even a fleeting laugh or just sit down for a beer with other hunters!

Debbi: The idea of a cicada-like creature pupating underground for years before hatching and wreaking havoc was unique and different.  I also liked the fact that the MOL bunker doesn’t have ALL the answers and that there are still things to learn in the realm of the Supernatural.  That really seems to be something that resonates as true to life.  I think Nancy Won is a fabulous addition to the SPN writing team and am looking forward to her episodes next season as well.

That said, I thought the execution of the monster, the effects if you will, were kind of cheapy looking and obviously kind of low budget.  I know that with the season finale coming up that there is probably less money in the till to pay for over the top effects but maybe they could have tried just a little harder?  The chittering sounds were great and creepy as hell, but the victim initially just standing there and shaking a foot/leg was kind of lame.  Still, it was an inventive monster of the week and an interesting story.

Michele:   This is one of the creepiest monsters I’ve seen in awhile.  Those shrieking sounds were creepy and had me standing on edge. The whole background on The Bissams introduced a new monster to the SPN universe that we haven’t seen.  I’m still amazed that after 11 seasons, Supernatural still has refreshing ways to tell stories like this.

 

Parallels and Foreshadowing:

 

Kelly:

Parallels: Matty is Jesse older brother and he wants to protect Jesse from getting hurt or discriminated against.  He wants to take his brother away from this town to California when he turns eighteen in hopes of a more accepting community.   However, Matty gets caught by the Bissan and instead Jesse spends the next 27 years waiting for revenge.  Obviously, Dean has spent his life protecting Sam.  At different points in both Sam and Dean’s life, they have wanted revenge for the wrongs done to their brother or family.

Foreshadowing: Jesse and Cesar retiring to New Mexico now that they took care of the Bissan and put Matty to rest.  Cesar telling Sam and Dean that “it’s time to start living”.  Will Sam and Dean ever get that chance? I don’t know.  It felt ominous to me when Sam said, “Two hunters who make it to the finish line.”  And Dean replied with “Yeah you leave that alone” in reference to asking Cesar and Jesse to help Sam and Dean against Amara.  Again, I don’t know if Sam and Dean will actually ever cross that finish line.

Jackie: The first parallel that I noticed was between the two sets of brothers: Sam/Dean and Jesse/Matty. In both cases, the brother bond is immensely important, even after death. For Jesse, losing Matty has defined his life, and I think Sam can relate to that because of the many times that he’s lost, Dean. More so, both Jesse and Sam have been driven to seek revenge as a result of loss. I really felt that they were kindred spirits in this episode, which is why I’m so glad they had such meaningful conversations.

I also loved the subtle similarities between Sam/Dean and Jesse/Cesar, and I’m not just talking about both pairs “bickering like old married couples, one of them literally.” In both cases, one partner followed the lead of the other–Cesar with Jesse, and Sam with Dean–so as to provide support and stability during a trying time. Furthermore, I loved that the episode ended with Jesse and Cesar retiring from hunting. With any luck, Sam and Dean will be able to do the same in the future.

Destini: The parallels were through the roof! Starting on Jesse and Matty’s relationship in parallel with Sam and Dean’s, if you’ll mentally go back to the episode “Just My Imagination,” where we got to see young Sam and how he was so sad that he couldn’t go on hunts with Dean and John, then finally he got the call saying “Hey, you’re in!” That distraught little boy, staying in motel rooms alone – basically being trapped, and then finally getting a chance to go out and work with his brother and father.

That whole scenario was just reimagined with Jesse and Matty to me. Jesse felt trapped in his small town, and basically was just waiting for his brother to help get him out of holding so he could be himself. Of course, it’s not specifically stated that it is a direct parallel FROM that episode, but more of Sam and Dean’s relationship at-large.

We also, of course, saw parallels with Jesse and Cesar. Two male hunters, essentially inseparable whether it be because they are family or a couple. Sam and Dean too were able to relate to their candid tales and just general “hunter world problems,” which I also thought was probably a great moment of release for both parties!

Debbi: The prolog with the two boys walking through the woods, the older planning to get the younger out of town to protect him from the bullying he’d get for being gay was a very sincere homage to young Sam and Dean.  Jesse had only one person who understood him and his loss of that person set him up for the bitterness and quest for revenge that had consumed his life.

You could very easily see this becoming either of the two Winchesters, even though they’ve lost each other in the past I have to believe that in the back of their respective minds they each worry for the day that their other half doesn’t wake up.  The sense of loss on Dean’s face in Red Meat when he thought Sam was dead was heartbreaking and I’m not sure I could handle the loss of either one of them as a viewer!

Dean certainly could and did identify with Jesse in terms of losing a loved one when he was so young.  Much of Dean’s difficulty navigating social situations and the world, in general, comes from having lost his mother at such a crucial age.  In addition, from the day Mary died John dragged both his boys along on his mission for revenge.  Dean knows first-hand that revenge doesn’t always fix everything that needs fixing in the person obsessed with said revenge.  His exchange with Cesar on this topic was bittersweet and dead on.

Michele: The parallels were amazing from the start. You see two brothers together in the woods, with the older one protecting his younger brother from harm.  You see a buffalo coin as their symbol, much like the Winchester Brothers have the Samulet.   Jesse had his brother protect him until he couldn’t any longer.   It reminded me so much of Sam and Dean.  Although both at times have gone in separate directions, they have always come together and protected each other.

The parallels worked with Jesse and Cesar as well.  They protected each other and the way they communicated and bantered reminded me of Sam and Dean. The foreshadowing of Jesse and Cesar’s retirement showed me that it is possible for hunters to leave this life.  It’s something that this season the boys have hoped they could do one day.

 

Predictions:

 

Kelly: My prediction is that Dean is going to find Amara and try to get Cas back any way he can.  Sam is going to try to keep Dean grounded.  In this past episode, Dean wasn’t sleeping, he was ready to step back from the hunt when Jesse asked him to and he didn’t seem hundred percent committed.

Jackie: I’d love to be able to say that I have a clear idea of what might happen, but I don’t. My gut feeling is that one of the brothers is going to sacrifice himself in order to defeat Amara, but the details and motivation are still murky. That’s ok, though; it makes the next few episodes that much more intriguing!

Destini: This episode sadly gave me a fearful outlook! I always feel that when you have a great period of brotherly introspection, it’s for a reason. Usually not a good one! So I’m nervous that this episode means we might see something detrimental. Fingers crossed that I’m wrong!

I did get the clear signal that Sam and Dean plan on trying to handle this Darkness and Castiel thing alone when they didn’t accept Jesse and Cesar’s general offer of assistance. I feel like they see it as a situation they, unfortunately, brought on, and therefore they have to be the ones who fix it.

Debbi: While it feels like the showrunner is setting us up for the at least a temporary loss of one of the Winchesters, I don’t really think that will be the end game with Amara.  That’s been done to death and would almost be a cheat unless Billie gets her way and sends the dead brother to the nothing, but then what would season 12 have to offer?

I think it will take the combined skill and knowledge of everyone to defeat Amara and that may mean Metatron as well as God making a return appearance.  I still favor the defeat of Amara in the finale and the rescue of Cas from Luci’s clutches carrying over to the first part of season 12, but I am wrong more often than I’m right, so who knows! LOL.

Michele:  I think it’s going to take Metatron and another? Maybe Chuck? To help the boys rescue Cas and defeat Amara.  I do think we will see one of the boys or even Cas sacrifice themselves for the good of all and go into the Empty.  I’m wondering how Rowena (maybe with the codex? Or the Book of the Damned) will play a role.

 

Overall Score:

Kelly: I give this episode a B.  I enjoyed the MOTW and really like the introduction of Jesse and Cesar.   I hope they end up making another appearance down the road.  I like the diversity of the characters and storyline was strong.

Jackie: I’d give this episode a solid B.

Destini: B- I honestly loved all the moments we got to see Sam and Dean’s relationship shown through others. I loved the introduction of new hunters! I loved the humorous bits as well. The pacing was the only thing that kept this from being a higher grade for me because it did feel like a bit of a slow burn.

Debbi: Nancy Won’s script was amazing and she may be my new favorite writer.  Well done for a freshman and I will predict that we’ll see great stories from her next year as well.  I’m going to give the episode a B+ due to the poor execution of the MOW.

Michele: Nancy’s script was pretty good. And she’s one of my favorite new writer’s on the show. Solid B.

 

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