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.
– 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"?
AIRED ON 5/25/2016
Season 11 : Episode 23