Supernatural: “Raising Hell” Review

It’s the final countdown and episode two of Season fifteen is filling in a bit more of the gaps we’ll be dealing with on our run to the end of this series.

The dilemma from the first episode hasn’t changed – our boys are trying to expel a fuckton of souls from the town Jack (demon Jack) jerry rigged as a trap. As we observed last episode, Dean called in Rowena for back-up. She shows up, along with Arthur Ketch, and they have some weird sexual chemistry. Besides the old witch and the British bastard flirting like teenagers, the main plot of this adventure revolves around the ghost of Jack the Ripper aka Francis Tumblety (Lane Davies) getting all the other ghosts on board for a breakout while the townspeople grow restless (and reckless) about being kicked out of their home. Surprise, surprise, Demon Jack’s ward won’t hold forever, in fact it’s fading fast (because, of course), also he can’t strengthen it (because, of course), so enter Rowena to bail the boys out as usual. Dean’s got a plan at least, she built a bomb when they fought Amara powered by souls, all she needs to do is build another bomb and they can suck all the souls up, easy peasy right? Wrong. Her soul sucking crystal comes to be though it’s nowhere near as power as the one she created the first time around (which makes sense since she reminds them it took a lot out of her to pull that off). Still, a ghost vacuum is a ghost vacuum and they definitely use it when the time comes. Problem solved, yes? Nope. Again, it’s not as powerful as the original so it can only suck up a few souls at a time, not to mention we don’t know the ultimate capacity of the thing (assuming it has one). Also it’s looking like this town keeps getting soul refills – wtf?

Along with our main plot there’s two subplots that bear mentioning: Firstly, Kevin Tran is back! Kind of…also, God’s a dick and lied. Secondly, whatever “quality time” Amara and God spent together did not end well.

Kevin’s storyline is bittersweet (let’s face it that’s the main kind of sweet you’re gonna get on this show). It’s a great reappearance except for the small kink of him being one of the billions expelled from Hell. Yep! God lied. He didn’t send Kevin to Heaven like he promised, instead he banished our favorite former prophet to the firey underworld – why? Kevin doesn’t say. What do we know? That without God’s intervention there’s no way Kevin’s getting into Heaven. Looks like once you go to Hell, Heaven won’t take you. It’s interesting to note that the boys don’t fight this as much as they might have in the past – there’s a reason for this, I think, and we’ll get to it, but the more logical explanation may simply be that the actor who plays Kevin, Osric Chau, only wanted to return for a single episode. He has options – go back to Hell or get set free as a ghost doomed to inevitably go mad. Kevin’s not down for a lifetime of undeserved torture, he’d rather take his chances with madness. DJ does him a solid and opens a hole in the barrier for Kevin to vamoose. It’s meant to be a sad farewell, but I’ll be honest I like the kid’s odds. Bobby turned evil because he was holding onto his hatred for Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart) killing him, Kevin doesn’t have that kind of baggage that I remember – he made peace with Sam killing him. Though, I guess he could hold a grudge against God.

Speaking of God (Rob Benedict)…we discover, he’s not doing so well. We open on a shot of Amara (Emily Swallow) in Reno getting a lovely massage, when God weirdly interrupts it. He’s clearly unwelcomed, but why? What happened on their bonding trip that made Amara run off to Reno??? This might be the reason God just happened to be around when the whole Jack ordeal went down, without the family getaway as a distraction, he got bored and decided to stick his hands back in the action. Clearly, he didn’t like what was going down because it led to him killing Jack and kicking off the Apocalypse, but that’s old hat. New hat is that God didn’t leave that confrontation with the Winchester’s scot free. When Sam shot him with the equalizer “bullet” he took the hit, we now get to see the aftermath. His injury looks a lot like Sam’s, which leads me to believe God and Sam Winchester are tied. Exactly how is a bit of a mystery but what we learn from God and Amara’s interaction is that God is trapped. He’s not nearly as powerful as he used to be, and he can’t leave our Earth. He’s trying to convince Amara to go on another family trip, but she sees right through him. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Amara is happy to offer up a freezing bowl of gazpacho before ditching him.

Lastly, a little soapboxing if you will…

Sam, Dean, and Castiel just accept Kevin’s banishment from Heaven. In earlier seasons they would have hardcore fought the law, but there’s two issues now. One is that they discovered God was pulling the strings the whole time and are feeling super worthless. What does it all mean!? If I didn’t make those choices, am I even real!? What’s the point!? Ug. I’ve never been a fan of existentialism and that hasn’t changed. Sam and Dean found out about God back in Season 4. Season 5 is all about how they don’t have a choice! Didn’t we cover this shit already!?

This brings me to point number Two: When you’re 15 seasons in, you start to give up. It’s just a fact. The reason I believe most shows should end by seven seasons is because there just aren’t enough storylines. Even in an idea as interesting as the supernatural or theology for dummies, there’s a limit. There’s a point of diminishing returns. And it shows.

There’s a line towards the back half of this episode where Castiel bemoans his inability to heal someone and Sam replies, “You’re probably just tired, we all are.” Ain’t that the truth! Most shows that go over ten seasons are ensembles. This means that the actors who started them usually aren’t around when they end. They move on, explore other projects, play other roles, but Supernatural has the disadvantage of being a two lead (occasionally three since Misha joined back in Season 4) show. This means that Jensen and Jared are essentially trapped. They play the same parts over and over for years and years. This has two distinct side effects: that the fan (and I mean the die-hard superfans) association of Jaren, Misha, and Jensen with their characters grows stronger and stronger (making breaking away from this show to do other projects difficult), and that the actors get bored and tired. Sam, Dean, and Castiel not fighting for Kevin’s immortal soul might mean that they have bigger fish to fry, or that Osric Chau only wanted to cameo for the final season of the series, or that they’ll circle back and find a miracle cure by episode 20, but I think it’s a reflection on how tired Jensen, Jared, and Misha are. It might be fun to play these characters, but I think a lyric from Cypress Hill’s “Rap Superstar” sums it up best: “It’s a fun job but it’s still a job.”

Happy retirement boys!

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