Supernatural “What’s Up, Tiger Mommy” Review: SOULED!

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Supernatural S08E02 “What’s Up, Tiger Mommy”

Quite frankly, that bank teller had it coming. I mean, I was a teller for like, a whole month, and the cardinal rule of the safety deposit box room was that tellers weren’t allowed to be nosing around when patrons were opening their boxes. No, not even if said patron was a creepy little old dude hoarding a frost giant finger bone in his ancient safety deposit box.

Oh well, at least that 5/8 of a virgin went to a good cause. Hell yeah, Hammer of Thor.

After watching Crowley snap his girlfriend’s neck last week, Kevin, understandably, wanted to check in on his mom. Dean, coping with his Purgatory flashbacks and manly angst the only way he knew how (that didn’t involve drinking himself into a stupor) was in full-blown perfect soldier mode. He argued that not only would backtracking to Michigan to see Tiger Mommy take time away from finding the Word of God, but knowing Crowley, she was probably surrounded by demons anyway. Yeah, not the best line of thinking to persuade the worried teenager, Dean, but good effort. I got your point.

Despite the trail of formerly demon-inhabited bodies leading to her front door, Momma Tran was refreshingly chilled about the whole wanted-by-the-king-of-Hell thing. I suspect that she was one of those really cool soccer moms who look all hovery and overbearing at first glance but have a secretly awesome past, like maybe she followed Phish around for an entire summer or hitchhiked across the country or something. She didn’t even flinch when Sam and Dean made the family Tran get their very own set of those handy-dandy demon repelling tattoos. Badass Kevin, meanwhile, cried like a baby.

With Momma Tran and Kevin reunited and inked, it was time to bust the tablet out of Kevin’s lockdown... except the rented locker he stashed it in had been broken into earlier and the Word of God was MIA. OMG CROWLEY? No, just your average human thief who insisted on keeping his gob shut about what he did with the tablet. Whatever, Dean has ways of making people talk.

CUE FLASHBACKS.

Let’s take a moment to talk about Dean’s apparent love of killing things.But first, let’s also talk about Castiel because admittedly, I’m in the camp that generally believes that the angel storyline is done and has been done for about three seasons now and Castiel’s continued presence is pretty much pandering. Sorry! Not sorry. Okay, a little bit sorry.

I like Castiel. I like Misha Collins. The only episode of Ringer that I didn’t hate was the one with Misha Collins in it and the only reason I didn’t hate it was that Misha Collins was in it. But for the past two seasons, I just couldn’t embrace the Castiel. “Why are you still here?” became the mantra for every appearance and like douchey Brock Lovett in Titanic I just didn’t “let it in,” man.

In Thank You For Smoking there was a scene where Aaron Eckhart and Rob Lowe talked about their plan to get smoking portrayed in a positive light in movies again. They wanted to have Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta Jones smoke in a sexy futuristic spaceship after having sexy futuristic space sex and Aaron Eckhart pointed out that if you smoke in a spaceship, it’ll blow up. Rob Lowe assured him that they could explain that detail away with a line of dialogue, “Thank God we invented the whatever.”

Castiel got his own “Thank God we invented the whatever” treatment in “What’s Up, Tiger Mommy,” when Alfie the apparent angel of foodservice popped in to ask Dean what'd happened to the wayward angel. Dean continued his evasive act, but we learned that he did eventually track Cas down in Purgatory. We also learned that when Castiel poofed into thin air when he and Dean first arrived in Purgatory, he did it on purpose. He deliberately avoided Dean in order to keep the Leviathan prowling Purgatory for revenge, away from him. Dean grumbled about it, but seemed to accept Castiel’s logic, and revealed that Benny the Friendly Vampire knew of an escape hatch back to Earth. Still, Cas apparently didn’t make the trip and we got no further elaboration from Dean with regard to why.

But we did get some general insight into Castiel from Alfie, just one line of dialogue, and for me, it smoothed over a lot of the wrinkles I’ve struggled with when it comes to Cas and pretty much everything post-Season 5. Alfie told Dean that there is still a chunk of Heaven’s population that, despite everything, still believes that Castiel’s heart was in the right place, but personally, Alfie thought the root of Castiel’s problem was too much heart.

Everything just clicked. I know that I’m probably late to the Castiel-love party, but hey, at least I got here.

Then there’s Dean and his post-Purgatory turmoil. It certainly mirrors his post-Hell experience in that he struggles with the ramifications of what he had to do during his incarceration, but something in the current storyline just doesn’t sit quite right with me. Dean tortured other souls in Hell in order to spare himself from being tortured. He also tortured souls in Purgatory for information about Castiel. You can argue that in both instances, he had to do what he did. However, when he returned from Hell, Dean was pretty broken up about the whole torture thing; he even pleaded with Castiel not to make him torture Alastair, despite the fact that Alastair totally deserved it and the information they needed from the demon was for the greater good and all that.

In contrast, Post-Purgatory Dean seems to have shaken off the guilt and regret surrounding his previous stint as a terrifying tormentor. While interrogating the thief who hocked the God tablet, Dean got pretty dark and scary and didn’t seem phased by what he did or even Sam’s shocked response to it. I suspect that this is where the “purity” of Purgatory comes in, but for someone who railed against his “torturer” identity so hard for so long, it must have taken quite a bit for for him to be, well, pretty okay with it now.

So the tablet ended up at an auction held by Plutus, the God of Greed. Kevin and the gang earned an invite to the exclusive event based on Kevin’s prophet status, a status that totally backfired when Plutus, unhappy with the offers of Vatican City, Alaska, and the Moon from Crowley and Alfie, added Kevin to the auction lot in hopes of upping the bids. Enter Momma Tran, offering up her soul for the tablet and her kid. Sold!

It would have been entirely too easy just to let the Winchesters walk out with the tablet though and this was only the second episode of the season, so Crowley was more than happy to complicate matters. I have to say, I’m loving the new menacing direction the writers have taken Crowley in this season. He was always evil before, but he was also kind of a joke. The fact that he’s actually calculating and cruel, as opposed to a caricature of a villain, makes for a great Big Bad. It also helps that Mark Sheppard is just awesome in general.

Crowley burned Mrs. Tran’s tattoo right off and hopped into her meatsuit, stole the tablet, left the lady traumatized, and taunted Kevin with some Maury Povich paternity angst and the Winchesters' terrible track record when it comes to keeping their friends alive. Kevin ultimately decided to take him mom and bail, arguing that the Winchesters no longer needed him around if they didn’t need him to translate the tablet and close the gates of Hell for good. Or, as Dean put it, “He thinks the people I don’t need end up dead.”

Well, yeah. I mean, you did gank Clem there in Purgatory as soon as he gave you all the information that he had about Castiel. Granted, Kevin didn’t know about that one, but... just make some friends, make sure they live, and get your numbers up, Dean.


Case Notes and Interrogation


1. I really missed characters on this show being SMART—Mrs. Tran with the tax math, Sam and the backward exorcism. Keep it coming! Can we get Dean arrested just to watch him break out of custody using nothing but some office supplies? That one’s a classic.

2. So angels can grow facial hair in Purgatory but Dean Winchester can’t? Okay. At this point I’m just going to assume that Dean can’t grow facial hair at all.

3. Okay, fine, Alfie’s real name is Samandiriel and he isn’t the angel of foodservice, he’s the angel of imagination. I think that just makes him MORE awesome. PLEASE DON’T KILL HIM.

4. Oh, who am I kidding, Alfie's a goner.

5. Alfie offered to put Kevin under angelic protection, but shouldn’t he already BE under it? Remember whenever the Prophet Chuck found himself in mortal peril and an archangel just swept in and saved the day? Shouldn’t Kevin theoretically be in the same situation?

6. Dean and the metal detector was really a thing of beauty. I know the whole how-many-weapons-can-the-paranoid-badass-hide-on-his-body joke has been done before on other shows, but it cracks me up every single time.

7. Post-Hell Dean vs. Post-Purgatory Dean. Go.


Supernatural "What's Up Tiger Mommy" Photos

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