If this doesn't make much sense it's because I'm writing the ep recap out of order, starting with the ones that make me happy. Episode 19 made me happy. Episode 17 DID NOT.
On a different note, I've figured out one of the reasons why season 8 on doesn't work for me. It's because there are far fewer monster of the week episodes. I like the monster of the week eps. It increases the (literal) mythology of the show, world builds and gets to see our boys use their skills. It distracts from the fucking awful major arcs of the later seasons.
Episode 16 - Drag Me Away (from you)
Ah yes, the one with the weeChesters. It was OK. It did feel like the writers/producers (whoever calls the shots on these things) wanted to shoehorn even more bucket list type stuff in, as a last hurrah. this style of storytelling doesn't work for me and it means that we haven't seen or heard anything from Chuck in quite a few episodes. Which is a bit ridic if I'm honest.
This is a monster of the week episode, where Baba Yaga is the monster. We didn't get to see enough of her though. Dean is not telling Sam about Jack's impending death, which makes him a fucking idiot who hasn't learned anything. In contrast, Sam calling out Dean's bullshit was very satisfying.
Two more things worth mentioning - the hotel decor is incredibly ugly and as making me feel ill. The shot of the college guide, knife and gun together made me cringe. I miss subtlety.
Episode 17 - Unity
This episode really upset me. I may well have been hormonal, I may well have been due to have a bad brain day, but this episode sucked the positivity out of me and left me feeling flat. At the time it was on the UK was looking like it was going to go into another lockdown (it did the following week), and things felt uncertain and stressful, so it may have been that the episode triggered these negative feelings in me rather than causing them.
I really, really did not like Dean saying that Jack wasn't family. I don't believe that Dean thinks that. I think he has a lot of anger towards Jack, I think he has difficulty trusting him and he doesn't respect him, but I don't think he mentally excludes him from their family. It is clear that Sam and Cas count Jack as family, so I expect Dean to accept Jack as family-by-proxy. I really didn't like how Sam didn't argue with Dean.
The title cards were weird and have not been referenced in any other episodes.
The Empty accepted Sam's story with very little questioning, which felt too easy. Amara was so shocked about the brothers' plan to kill her, and that just didn't sit right either. Her trouser suit was abominable, conversely Chuck was dressed well.
There was mention of Billie somehow taking hold of Dean with her plan. If she had psychically affected him, and he had gone off the rails at this point so i wouldn't be surprised if that was the intention, that should have been made explicit. During the corridor fight, Sam tells Dean that Dean protected him from everyone, including John. At this point I wanted to scream.
I felt like I was watching a show which didn't explain or justify the character's actions. We can see they are at the end of their tethers, but we don't see how they got there. The characters are all behaving slightly off, nearly right, but not quite. It is possible that Chuck is manipulating all of them to behave in this slightly off manner, to exaggerate personality traits and exacerbate tensions, but this was never confirmed. Chuck says that he didn't orchestrate Amara/Dean but we don't know that for sure. The show is so wonky and uncertain at this point that it's hard to take anything at face value. There's no signalling or narrative prompts.
It wasn't a dull episode, all the components for a good story were there, everything just felt slightly wrong. At some point I'll rewatch it and see if it improves.
Episode 18 - Despair
I could do a proper review of this but quite honestly the lasting impression of this is Castiel's proclamation of love to Dean, which had me howling with laughter. I know it wasn't meant to be that way, but it had me chuckling all weekend. Castiel doesn't seem to understand Dean at all.
Dean's reaction to Cas' declaration tickled me, as it's totally in line with his shock/surprise/ uncomfortableness when he meets any gay man.
From my notes, I can see that Dean's concern for Jack is at odds with the previous episode, but it makes more sense. Billie didn't have enough good lines, and it felt like the actors were phoning it in. Jack and MegEmpty felt shallow. Usually I love watching these guys.
Billie's plan to stop people coming back from the dead is a pretty good one. The Winchesters used to fight for the greater good, beyond their little circle of acquaintances. Now they fight for their inner circle and themselves. This upsets me on a storytelling level and a characterisation level. They may as well be the Men of Letters.
Episode 19 - Inherit the Earth
After episodes 17 and 18 I was dreading this. I know it's only a show, and I know that linking your moods to a telly show isn't a healthy thing, but I was left feeling pretty low after Unity and I was getting quite agitated and off kilter thinking about ep 19. Maybe it wasn't the show making me feel edgy, maybe I was feeling edgy anyway (hormones? Lockdown? 2020's apocalyptic nature?).
This episode ended the season and it was satisfactory. I enjoyed it. It starts with the boys and Jack being the only people on earth, because Chuck has raptured everyone else. Which wasn't clear to me from episode 18, but wevs.
Michael arrives, Lucifer arrives (he really could have stayed dead but I guess the writers wanted all the big bads in the finale), Michael kills Lucifer (Sam should have got to kill Lucifer), Michael betrays the boys but the boys have prepared for this. Then the good stuff starts which is Sam punching Chuck in the face, a clever flashback reveal of the brothers' plan, Chuck beating the boys and the boys refusing to kneel. Sam drags Dean up to face Chuck and my heart sang.
Sam and Dean are now free to live their lives how they want without interference from a bastard deity. They have their arms round each other in the bunker. I LOVE this. I want loyalty and love and trust and codependence and a lifetime of the bros learning how to live with each other with kindness. That's what I watch it for, and that's what we got in the early seasons.
The memory montage got me in the heart too. I have no idea how episode 20 is going to go, I hope it's executed with grace and it doesn't turn this episode on it's head.
9/10 for pure fannish joy.