You know, I suspected we might be in trouble when I realized that the writers of this episode, Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, are the same duo that brought us the infamous "racist truck episode" from Season 1, and in more recent seasons, the mind-numbing "Of Grave Importance," the painfully bad "The Slice Girls," and the cringe-filled "Man's Best Friends With Benefits." I made an effort to stay positive, though, because after the suckass first half of the season, the second half of Season GR8 has actually, for the most part, managed to live up to its name. Ross-Leming and Buckner have even, on occasion, given us good episodes of the series with the rather enjoyable "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" and the pretty solid "A Little Slice of Kevin."
So what I'm trying to say is that it didn't have to be this way, Supernatural. And by "this way" I mean WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING?
How did you mutilate your own mythology? Let me count the ways:
1. Kevin Tran, in the middle of his most recent and most colorful nervous breakdown, called Sam and Dean to tell them that he'd figured out the details of the second trial. Sam had to break into Hell and send an innocent soul to its rightful place in Heaven. The boys wracked their brains to figure out how to bust in downstairs before calling an expert—a demon. Because, you know, it's not like they're friendly with an angel who plucked BOTH of their asses out of Hell or anything.
Okay, granted, Castiel is AWOL with the angel tablet at the moment, but they could have at least tried to get a hold of him before resorting to a crossroad demon. At least give us some lip service about how, "Gee, too bad Castiel is off doing whatever he's doing because we could've totally used him here." Just something, anything, to make the Winchesters look like they aren't suffering from a form of amnesia that conveniently makes them forget Seasons 4 through 6.
2. Sam's "So this is Hell?" when Ajay clearly parked him in Purgatory. Granted, Sam wouldn't know what Purgatory looked like, but he's technically been to Hell. And admittedly, the Cage has never actually been confirmed to be in Hell, unless we're counting that interview Sera Gamble gave that one time where she said it was in Hell. It's just that when you have Sam himself referring to it as being "in Hell" and DEATH telling Dean he had to "go to Hell" to retrieve Sam's soul way back in Season 6, the implications are pretty clear.
3. Bobby. Oh, Bobby. His send-off in last season's "Death's Door" was so good and yet Supernatural refuses to just let the man rest in peace. (Just a thought, but maybe ya'll shouldn't have killed him? Am I sensing some executioner's remorse? Hmm?) Don't get me wrong. I love Jim Beaver. I was delighted when he was revealed to be the guest star in this week's episode. My love of Bobby Singer and Jim Beaver has usually managed to outweigh the questionable uses of Bobby since his death, But then we just sort of ignored the fact that Bobby was a vengeful spirit for the last few episodes of Season 7. I'd also like to pretend it never happened, but the sad fact of the matter is that it DID happen and now we have to live with it.
The fact that Bobby was eager to get out of Hell but still hesitant to actually call it quits and go to Heaven was totally in line with his character as a dedicated hunter of evil sumbitches and surrogate dad to those idgit Winchesters, but his request that Sam and Dean find a way to bring him back from the dead was not. "What's dead should stay dead." It's like, rules numero uno and dos in the Hunter Handbook and Bobby knows that. That we had to resurrect the Great Sam Winchester Guilt Trip of 2012 and agonize over his decision not to look for Dean in Purgatory just to somehow sort of almost justify Bobby's stance was the icing on the poop cake. I understand now why we had to soldier through the ridiculousness that was the first half of the season in order to position ourselves for the general awesomeness of this half with the Batcave and the Men of Letters and the trials, but it's done and over with now and don't you make me go back there, Supernatural. Don't you do that. I just can't, okay?
But, flaws and all, "Taxi Driver" was an important episode in the grand scheme of things. Obviously, it covered the second Hell trial, which was ultimately completed successfully, giving Sam more glowy action and Dean more Wangst to wallow in. With Castiel MIA, Naomi has apparently turned her sights on Dean and subsequently spent most of Amanda Tapping's screen time trying to buddy up to the eldest Winchester brother. Dean was hesitant at first, and while I'm fairly certain he'll never entirely board the Team Naomi bus (barring mind-control) given his history with "dicks with wings" and his generally distrustful demeanor, Naomi's assist when Crowley crashed the "Escape from Hell" party seemed to make at least a small impact. I'm actually still torn on her true motives. She's probably just another evil angel, but wouldn't it be kind of great if she really was what she claimed to be? A guardian of Heaven, afraid of the implications of the Winchesters closing Heaven in addition to Hell? One-dimensional, definite baddies are boring.
That brings us to Benny, who seemed be back on the straight-and-narrow following his (admittedly justifiable) ripping out of Crazy Martin's throat. Sam's rescue of Bobby was entirely too convenient once he followed the yellow brick road into Hell and back out into Purgatory, and Benny's eagerness to let Dean chop his head off so he could help Sam escape from Purgatory after Crowley killed Ajay seemed... too easy? Sure, Benny was depressed and having a hard time fitting in since the vampires disowned him and he could barely pass for human, but if we're being brutally honest here, most of that was Sam's fault. I wouldn't begrudge Benny a, well, a grudge.
But Dean came calling and Benny came running and in the end, Benny made the valiant, noble, and convenient decision to stay behind in Purgatory because Dean isn't allowed to have friends who aren't Sam. Though, to be fair, Sam isn't allowed to have friends who aren't Dean, so hooray for co-dependency?
At least they didn't burn his bones, leaving the door open for an eventual return. Probably. I mean, this IS Supernatural. The only dead character who never gets to come back is Papa Winchester, and that's only because Jeffrey Dean Morgan is too busy making blockbusters and flashing his bare butt on Magic City to be bothered with the C-Dubs. (Sorry, C-Dubs.)
Concerning Kevin—I'm actually totally feeling his story. I appreciated that Crowley's real/not-real status was left hanging right up until the end. That's what you get for stealing Dean's pie, son.
Supernatural returns on April 24th. What did you think of this episode?
– The melting graffiti passage into Purgatory was actually really cool-looking.
– Dumb Winchester sighting: So I guess we just decapitate vampires in broad daylight within sight of busy urban streets now? Okay then.
– It still doesn't sit well with me that Dean and Sam are totally okay with bastard bro Adam burning in Hell for all eternity. Could we please address that, Supernatural? Please? Even if rescue is out of the question, could we at least turn him into a demon or something? Idk.
– I hate how Season 3 becomes less and less relevant as Hell becomes less and less awful, traumatizing, and permanent.
– What do you think the third trial is?
– Since he cut and run, is it only a matter of time before Kevin gets kidnapped by the real Crowley?
– Naomi theories? Certified psycho or misguided guardian?