Supernatural "Captives" Review: The Ghost and Mrs. Tran

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Feb 26, 2014

Supernatural S09E14: "Captives"

Welp, that was a rather misleading episode promo, wasn't it? Just saying, I've been pining for the inevitable "haunted bunker" storyline pretty much since the introduction of the Men of Letters HQ and... whatever. Because KEVIN TRAN. I saw Osric Chau's name in the credits and made the most obnoxious dolphin noises. Kevin's pseudo-return was such a pleasant surprise that even though "Captives" didn't actually feature Dean and Sam under spooky lockdown in their doomsday cave, I'm not as disappointed as I could be. Supernatural even threw in Kevin's badass mom as a bonus.

But of course, this is still Supernatural, so Kevin's return wasn't all sunshine and continuations of the show's arbitrary decisions regarding who gets to come back from the dead (sort of) and who doesn't. Dean gave Kevin the ol' salt and burn treatment back when Gadreel wasted him, so according to Supernatural's own mythology, that should've been plenty to send the kid to that big Advanced Placement study session in the sky... except that as it turns out, with Metatron in charge, the pearly gates have been slammed shut and the souls of the newly departed are locked out. 

Also, it appears that the show is pulling a Bobby and gluing Kevin's soul to a cherished possession. Hopefully we'll avoid repeating Bobby's storyline in its entirety, however, because it was crappy the first time around; sometimes dead is better, Supernatural! Sometimes dead is better! 


But anyway, yeah, at the moment, fresh souls are literally locked out of heaven, just like in the Bruno Mars song. That has the potential to be interesting, because how's a hunter supposed to end a haunting if there's nowhere to send the soul? Also: KEVIN TRAN. Kevin Tran conversing via coffeemaker. Kevin Tran telling the Winchesters to get over themselves. Kevin Tran haunting his mommy because she wants him to. I need Kevin Tran to come be my ghost BFF. I just have a lot of Kevin Tran feelings. 

I have a lot of Castiel feelings, too. Bartholomew—who was once poised to be one of Season Fine's Big Bads (but not really, in retrospect)—sassed the wrong reluctant revolutionary and got himself shanked in the process. Now Cas has a bit of a following and he's really, really not into it. So much better than being hunted down though, right? RIGHT?

Reluctant revolutionary Castiel has a lot in common with accidental boy-king Sam from back in the day. Supernatural really loves its Sam/Castiel parallels this season, doesn't it? What's more, the current Castiel of 2014 is inching ever so close to becoming a more half-baked version of his Doomsday 2014 self, at least concerning the whole "I really don't wanna fight, man, but if I have to, I'll totes eff you up" mindset. 


"Captives" was a subdued return after Supernatural's short hiatus. It's not that the episode wasn't enjoyable, but it felt restrained in places, and despite the progress made toward the season's main story—souls trapped in the veil, the end of Bart, the "return" of Kevin—it just didn't have the feel of an important installment, and I can't quite put my finger on why. I didn't feel myself flying into a rage over anything, and maybe that was the problem? Supernatural excels at eliciting some seriously heavy emotion from its viewers. Like, I'm pretty sure Season 5 contributed to a grad school drinking problemo. The fact that Dean and Sam are still fighting—even after Ghost Kevin's wise, sage monologue—is painful. Bad episodes of Supernatural make me angry because I know the show is capable of being really great, but when an episode leaves me speechless in a weird way, I'd almost rather the episode had outright sucked, because then at least I'd have something to say and passionate (if misguided) arguments to add some sparkle. Let's be clear: "Captives" did not suck.

But even though I didn't mind "Captives," it was an important episode that never really felt important. The action was there, but the tone was off. Kevin's back, but not really, and now I'm going to worry that he'll get the full Bobby treatment because Supernatural tends to kill off beloved characters to reap the huge emotional impact, only to realize two episodes later that oops, fans really liked that character and there's no one to replace 'em with. Better bring them back as a zombie/ghost/demon-with-a-new-meatsuit and hope for the best. 


So Dean and Sam are still at odds, having moved on to pouting in their rooms like scorned teenagers rather than the 30-something grown-ass-men that they are (and they're actually older than that if we're counting Sam's time loop in "Mystery Spot" and both of their tenures in hell). I'm curious as to what will finally break the tension, because so far, all of the old standards have failed to crack it. In fact, that may be the biggest takeaway from this episode. Supernatural is continuing to treat the rift between Sam and Dean like a valid, serious, and inevitable conflict between two mutually wounded, human parties, rather than as an annual plot device between two fleshy Ken dolls in a risque puppet show. This conflict is bigger and deeper than the ones that came before. An impassioned plea from a dead friend just isn't going to cut it anymore, even if that dead friend is Kevin Tran XOXO <3. 



CASE NOTES

– Sam's sweater vest. :D

– I've seen so many interesting Mark of Cain theories floating around the internet. I really need Supernatural to get back to exploring that topic so I can see which ones pan out. There are a few that I'm crossing all my appendages for. Do you have any? What are your faves?

– Are we ever going to get to the supposed downside of Castiel stealing that one angel's grace a billion episodes ago?

– Castiel turning the blade on Bart was fierce. Love me some badass Cas. It's so easy to get stuck in Dean's "baby in a trenchcoat" mindset that I always love the reminders that no, Castiel is actually really powerful, capable, and deadly on his own thankyouverymuch. 

– Got any Ghost Kevin predictions? 

– Crowley wanted to keep the hostages alive and even went so far as to tell his intern to "protect" them. Do you think that was purely to keep his leverage in place or is he still more human than we think?


What'd you think of "Captives"?


  • Comments (178)
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  • AngelAeon Mar 07, 2014

    While that demon was blathering on about how much he likes murder and his own bad-arsery, I was totally expecting Dean to just say 'roll up my right sleeve a bit....' and scare the pants of the little bugger with the Mark.

  • jenniferlmelv Mar 03, 2014

    When a ghost tells the Winchesters to quit the pity parade then you know something ain't right.................enough already, it was boring when it was done the first time they had a falling out but at least way back then (season 2 and Sam ended up possessed) they actually had a valid reason. Sam caught out Dean in a lie and here we are SEVEN seasons later and NOTHING changes. You would think that in seven years they would learn something even if that something is that Sam can't trust a word that comes out of Dean's mouth because all he can do is lie. That way Sam wouldn't need to get so self righteously pissed and they can get on with the job. Give me more of the story line and less of the sob fest please.

    Back to the story, welcome back Mrs Tran the most kick-ass mum in TV land. Its kind of no surprise to find she out lived her son but also desperately sad that she fought her way out of Crowley's self store dungeon only to find out Kevin had died. Here's hoping her feisty kick-assness can keep spirit Kevin from trouble and turning into something bad.

    So its not just angels who are locked out of heaven but spirits to, all of them stuck in limbo with no where to go. Does that mean there is a whole heap of potential demons (given the only other place for a spirit to go is down) or will they just wait there till they turn into some psycho killing poltergeist type and get blasted, salted and burned by hunters? Interesting potential with that me thinks.

    Speaking of kick ass I must admit to shouting at the screen for Cas to kill Bart the batty angel long before he did but I also get why he did it in self defence rather than out right angelcide. By doing it the way he did he has managed to turn some of the Bart faction to his way of thinking and in an angel war even Cas needs allies so here's hoping he can convince more to help him on his quest to defeat Metatron and reopen heaven.


  • Michale32086 Mar 03, 2014

    A very VERY wise person once said:

    "You can have an emotionally stable Sam or you can have Sam with a pulse."

    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with lying to a person for the right reasons..

  • jjkrock Mar 03, 2014

    You would think that in seven years they would learn something even if that something is that Sam can't trust a word that comes out of Dean's mouth because all he can do is lie.

    I respectfully disagree. Dean is no less trustworthy than Sam is. I don't know if anyone has added them all up (that would be an interesting project), but Sam has probably told as many lies as Dean has and some of them have been real whoppers. And as far as I can recall, none of Dean's lies have led to the end of the world. We can't say the same for Sam's secrets and lies. I agree with you that Sam gets pretty self-righteous when it comes to this issue, but I don't think he can afford to be. If lies, secrets and lack of trust are the main reasons their relationship is broken, Sam has just as much responsibiilty for that as Dean does.

    Interesting point about the trapped spirits, but if hunters salt and burn a spirit now they won't be sending it to rest so I don't know if hunters have a way of dealing with vengeful spirits now. That makes the situation much worse...

  • jjkrock Mar 03, 2014

    It's also worth noting that Dean and Sam's motivations for lying or keeping secrets are different. When Dean lies, 99% of the time it's to protect Sam in some way. The Gadreel situation was to save Sam's life; in season 7, not telling Sam about Amy was because Dean was afraid Sam would have another psychotic break; is season 2, Dean kept the secret about Sam going dark-side because it was his father's dying wish and he wasn't sure how it would affect Sam. In contrast, most of Sam's lies and secrets are motivated by self interest. He used his demon blood-amplified psychic powers to feel more powerful (saving victims of demonic possession was a part of it, but he admits toward the end that he liked feeling powerful); being with Ruby made him feel in-control and powerful, etc.

    I'm not condoning lying and keeping secrets, especially when it has damaged their relationship so severely, but it's one thing to lie to someone to protect them and a completely different thing to lie for your own benefit.

  • jenniferlmelv Mar 03, 2014

    Agreed that Sam is no better than Dean but you'd think one of them would have learned by now that lying doesn't solve anything. Dean lied about Sam turning dark side in season 2 because Daddy Winchester asked him not to tell and look how well that turned out. Dean lied about Sam dying at the end of season 2 and then selling his soul, look how well that turned out. Dean lied about his time in hell and look how well that turned out.

    Sam lied about Ruby and demon blood and look how well that turned out; Soulless Sam, Psycho Sam seeing Lucifer, Sam and Amy, Sam and the apocalypse blah blah blah. The list is endless for both of them and its one long lie fest that has gone on for the better part of SEVEN years and you'd think that ONE of them would catch on and NOT DO IT any more.

    Following the lie/earth shattering secret reveal we get weeks of them moping around each other in their self righteous indignation because they had 'reasons' to lie. There is never a good reason to lie, its ALWAYS going to come back and bite you in the ass and karma is going to kick your ass to boot. Lying solves nothing and has been the root cause of 99% of their problems. The ONLY difference now (in my opinion) is that Sam has actually recognised they are their own worst enemies and that something needs to change.

    I just think it would be nice for once if there were no secrets and lies and the writers would actually have the pair of them grow up and reconnect in a way that would allow the camaraderie of the first season without either of them falling back on guilt trips, endless recrimination and the constant drowning of their emotions in booze (Dean) or work (Sam).

  • jjkrock Mar 04, 2014

    There is never a good reason to lie, its ALWAYS going to come back and bite you in the ass...


    I'm not in favor of telling big humdingers just for the heck of it, but there are times when society has collectively decided that it's ok to bend the truth. I don't think parents who tell their children that Santa Claus is real are evil. I also know there are times when people lie to protect someone else, so I'm comfortable saying that certain lies (properly applied) may not harm anyone.
    That said, this has been the biggest and most long-lasting melt-down in Dean and Sam's relationship so far. If the pain of this memory makes them lie to each other less often from now on, I'd call that a very good thing.

    As much as I miss the Sam and Dean of seasons 1 and 2, I can't see the boys ever going back to that. They've both been through too much and they aren't the same people anymore. Their innocence has been lost and, once the current crisis is over, they will need to find something in each other that is still worth clinging to. I hope they do.

  • Copioli Mar 02, 2014

    I loved all the Tran scenes, but I couldn't care less for Bartolomew and all that.

  • TimewasteLand Mar 01, 2014

    The show is seriously going down hill. I've been watching in for at least five-six years and it has no direction anymore. I didn't really give a crap about Kevin since his acting was terrible and the plot is running in circles.

    I've been crossing my fingers for something great to happen to this season but it's been totally flat. I loved the episode with Kain(Cain) and the mark but that's pretty much the only strong bible reference they've had for a long time.
    If the winchesters would just go on a quest to find god so he could reboot the series back to season one and safe Sam girlfriend - That'd be great.

  • greasy82 Mar 01, 2014

    Crowley's intent was purely about leverage. You can threaten someone with death only once but can threaten them with pain for a lifetime. Obviously, he wasn't out to torture these people; he's a businessman (and sadist) at heart. Having his captives living and relatively unharmed makes more sense then dead.

  • Michale32086 Feb 28, 2014

    The one thing to keep in mind is that there is a war going on.. A war that holds the fate of two worlds..

    Sam and Dean are soldiers.

    The priority is the mission.

    That's the long and short of it..

  • jjkrock Feb 28, 2014

    Sam and Dean are soldiers. The priority is the mission.

    Excellent point! Hopefully there will be time for finger pointing, healing and mutual introspection after they've saved Earth, heaven and all the souls trapped in the veil.

  • Michale32086 Feb 28, 2014

    Exactly. Despite their faults, Sam & Dean are the best soldiers for this war.. It makes no logistical sense to severely curtail that effectiveness by letting one of them die..

    When the war is won and the Winchesters are tipping back an endless supply of cold ones, then they can play the "jerk/b!tch" game...

    "She will grow up believing that her father is a traitor, but she will grow up."
    -Admiral Jarok

    Sam will grow old, thinking his brother is a royal class pr!ck, but he WILL grow old...

    In the end, that is all that matters...

  • RichardCarlso Feb 28, 2014

    Maybe Kevin will be lucky and avoid becoming a vengeful spirit. Not all ghosts become vengeful spirits. Remember Molly in the season 2 episode (one of my all time favorites) 'Road Kill?' She had been a ghost for 15 years and didn't even realize she was a ghost. Bobby, on the other hand, wanted revenge on Dick Roman. Once he decided to step on that path, he went downhill very fast.

  • Michale32086 Feb 28, 2014

    Maybe Kevin will be lucky and avoid becoming a vengeful spirit.

    Kevin IS a prophet.. Perhaps that gives him certain protections...

  • flintslady Feb 28, 2014

    I find it interesting that people think Cas was bad ass in this ep. After deciding a few episodes ago that he needed to do whatever it takes to help his "kind" his big plan basically amounted to moping around. If he is not planning to take a proactive stance in helping the other angels (and humans they're destroying) then why not just stay with the Winchesters?

    He doesn't want to lead, he has no suggestions, he couldn't make a clear argument with Bart on how and why things should be done differently, and then after allowing him to kill an "innocent" angel I'm supposed to cheer him on for killing Bartholomew?

    A heroic "person" is someone who sometimes has to do terrible things to protect others NOT himself. And don't tell me that Castiel was being restrained. He barely flinched. He's a seraph level angel who has survived purgatory and has been fighting along side the Winchesters (aka scrappiest fighters of all time) for the last 4 years, I have no doubt that he could have obliterated everyone in that room if he wanted to.

    This is not my Cas. :( And you know what I'd be okay with that, if these changes made sense to me. But I just really can't figure out where they are going with this...

    Then again, I thought most of last season was weak, and then all of sudden we got As Time Goes By, Goodbye Stranger, The Great Escapist and Sacrifice which were all fantastic. So maybe the best is still yet to come?

    P.S Why didn't Mrs. Tran call on Cas when she was captured?
    P.P.S Remember how awesome Abaddon was last season? I miss that.

  • kalel32688 Mar 01, 2014

    He's a seraph level angel who has survived purgatory and has been fighting along side the Winchesters (aka scrappiest fighters of all time) for the last 4 years

    Except that Castiel isn't a seraph anymore, since Metatron took his grace in the Season 8 finale. Didn't Castiel take grace from a regular angel (and not a seraph)?

  • jjkrock Feb 28, 2014

    Good points, flintslady, but I think of Castiel as a reluctant hero and an emotionally wounded soldier. He still has what it takes to be a leader, but is is also still haunted and tortured by guilt over all the angels he killed the last time he ascended to power (went insane with soul-power, declared himself "god", and almost destroyed heaven). He's also very worried about making another big mistake. Remember when he told Sam that he's the only one who has messed things up more often than Sam has? I think he is burdened by that and is afraid of making another bad judgement call.

    I'm sure he is torn between wanting to stop the angel civil war and unify heaven again; destroy Metatron and re-open heaven; and save as many angels (and humans) as possible -- AND trying to do all that without killing anyone he doesn't have to kill. He's hoping to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, but probably isn't yet clear about how to do that. I think he'll figure it out and end up being a great leader.
    I agree with you that the best is yet to come from him this season.


  • Michale32086 Mar 04, 2014

    Cas has come to realize the truth of that saying about a road and good intentions..

    He doesn't trust his good intentions anymore... He is going to need a couple wins under his belt to solidify the idea in his mind that he IS one of the good guys, his past notwithstanding..

    Just to throw another wrench at the monkey, if Castiel can return from the Dark Side, can Gadreel??

  • RichardCarlso Feb 27, 2014


    As for the Sam haters saying Sam needs to get over it, Dean went waaay beyond anything he has done in the past. Not only did he trick Sam into allowing Gadreel possess him without his permission, Dean allowed a TOTAL STRANGER to possess Sam. Dean knew squat about Gadreel, nothing, zero. But he said 'sure, go ahead and take over my brother!' And Sam is supposed to just get over it?

  • HanhKim Mar 01, 2014

    I didn't know there were any Sam haters in the Supernatural fandom. I always thought it was agreed upon that we all love the Winchester brothers. We might prefer one to the other but no one actually dislikes any one of them.

    When people say a Winchester should just get over it, we're saying move on with this plotline so we can see Winchester brotherly love again. Who actually enjoys watching two main leads be unhappy with each other for half a season? I don't care who's right. I just want them both to get over it.

  • jjkrock Mar 01, 2014

    Well said, HanhKim :)

  • jannel Feb 28, 2014

    Oh please, with all due respect. Just get over it. Yes. Know one hates Sam. How can any SPN fan hate Sam. It's just the story line, that the writers are using over and over again to get us going. Sam, being right or wrong, gave Dean what I think is , hopefully, his final message on how he wants to be handled if he should die or during his death. So start being brothers again and save the world.

  • Michale32086 Feb 28, 2014

    And Sam is supposed to just get over it?

    With the fate of two worlds (Earth and Heaven) at stake??

    Uh... yea.....

  • flintslady Feb 28, 2014

    Something about Sam just grates. Even when he's basically right, I still feel the urge to tell him to just get over it. Do you think it's his hair?

    I don't think what Dean did was all that terrible. The possession IMO isn't a big deal. I think what it MEANS is a bigger deal. Sam was ready to die and Dean wouldn't allow it. Dean can't let go. That's a huge weight for Sam to bear, especially in their line of work. Kind hard to be someone's everything when you know that just means other people are going to get hurt and killed as a consequence, and that you can't just lay down in your grave when you're damn well good and ready.

    These are the things that Sam needs to be saying to Dean. Stop making it all about his hurt feelings and start focusing on the cost. It's one thing for Dean to keep saying "that's on me", "it's my fault", "I'm sorry". But without modifying his behaviour what are all these guilty feelings and apologies worth?

    Old Sam* would recognize this. He would force Dean to talk about it, to actually see it. Not just throw out thinly veiled insults like "you want to be brother's…" and "no I wouldn't… [stop you from dying and crossing over if you felt it was your time]"

    It's like he's more interested in proving that he's a better person than Dean, instead of helping him see why he might have made the wrong choice and why.

    It smacks of arrogance and pretension, which is why I think people find it so easy to hate him. (Not saying they should, just saying)

    *Or Bobby, or Castiel, or Benny or some random hot hookup. It's funny when the world was falling down around him and he had a bunch of people to rely on, he shut them out and became an alcoholic. Now the world is falling apart, he's gotten multiple people killed, he has no support group and is for the first time truly alone, and he's somehow able to hold it together. HUH?

  • RichardCarlso Feb 28, 2014

    His hair? Could be. lol Yes, Dean needs to change his behavior. Every time he apologizes to Sam, and Sam accepts the apology, he sucker punches Sam with another lie down the road. Look how easily he lied to Sam about Garth in 'Sharp Tooth.' And Sam sure isn't innocent when it comes to lying. They both need someone to bang their heads together.

  • jjkrock Feb 28, 2014

    I am not a Sam hater, but In Dean's defense, Castiel did vouch for Ezekiel and since Dean trusts Castiel he had reason to trust Zeke's intentions at the time. He also wanted to tell Sam right away (and MANY times afterward), but Zeke talked him out of it by convincing him Sam would die. Zeke also continued to gain Dean's trust by resurrecting Castiel and Charlie, and saving Sam (more than once). There was no obvious indication that Zeke was a bad guy until the end.

    I agree that Dean was overstepping (which he has done many times to protect Sam) and he made a split-second decision that ended up being a mistake. I don't think that's way beyond -- it's pretty much in line with where the brothers have been. Sam gets into trouble and Dean moves heaven, hell, and Earth to save him. Have they lied to each other and kept secrets? Yes - plenty of times. So if that's where their relationship has ended up, it's as much Sam's fault as it is Dean's. If this last episode was way beyond, it's only because the line wasn't clear in the first place. You can't draw a line in the sand after the other person has already crossed over it -- that's not fair.

    It's not like Sam hasn't lied, kept secrets and made a TON of huge mistakes that have endangered and hurt Dean, and rocked the stability and foundation of the entire universe. Dean has always found a way to forgive him, so he deserves the same.

  • Michale32086 Feb 28, 2014

    Well said....

  • RichardCarlso Feb 28, 2014

    Good point. I forgot that Castiel vouched for Zeke. Both Dean and Castiel got suckered because Castiel didn't know Zeke was actually Gadreel.

  • radiumgirl Feb 27, 2014

    Yeah, the Sam hate hurts my soul.

  • RichardCarlso Feb 27, 2014

    I hope Mama Tran is safe and Kevin doesn't deteriorate too fast. Bobby's ghost went downhill fast.

  • jannel Feb 27, 2014

    Maybe Kevin will not deteriorate because he is stuck in the veil. It's not that he refused to go to heaven. He never intended to stay on earth. While in the veil he maybe able to work with Sam and Dean. The veil maybe protecting him from deterioration.

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