Seven Things About Supernatural: 11x15 - “Beyond The Mat”
I’m writing this a little later than usual, mainly because the emotional beats in last night ep left me a little less than coherent.
It’s okay, though. I totally managed an objective* viewing this morning.
(*Hint: this is a lie. I did, however, take notes between bouts of emotional turmoil.)
- Lucifer always makes a fair few pop culture references, but he’s very heavy on it this ep: the Glengarry Glen Ross A-B-C speech (tw: slurs), lines from The Fugitive and The Simpsons, etc. Maybe it’s reflective of Lucifer’s treating everything around him like a toy – he doesn’t even need to use his own words! – but I lean toward feeling like they overdid it just a smidge.
Oh, Crowley. I’m so sorry I ever doubted you. Like, we could see the double-cross a mile away, but all chances are good chances when your current state of affairs involves being kept in a kennel and cleaning the floor with your tongue. I still don’t know what Crowley’s long-term trajectory is, but I suspect that TFW’s least-favorite adjunct is about to show up on his ex-boyfriend’s doorstep.
- I don’t think I’ve said this yet, but the physicality between Lucifer and Crowley has absolutely fascinated me. It’s not just this ep – though there was plenty of it – but it’s been strangely arresting in ways I’m having trouble putting into words. I will eventually figure out how to articulate this better, but the nearest I can come is to describe it as being a little like graphic crime scene photos. It’s terrible but magnetic.
- Dean is a mess, full-stop. This season’s arc – Amara, Lucifer, and especially Cas – is visibly taking him apart. He’s the one who floats the trip to Missouri, but he’s fiddling while Rome burns. He’s hit a wall, and there’s an opportunity to connect with a thing that was a big part of his life when he was young. Sam is wise to encourage him; Dean’s emotional state – again, particularly regarding Cas – is approaching something like Sam’s in S10.
- The Dean and Gunnar Lawless thing is a little bit mind-blowing. Dean and Gunnar parallels with Sam and Rio, and Dean is utterly taken with the man in just about every interaction. They compare scars, they drink together, Dean makes the “IT’S HIM. IT’S DR. SEXY” face all over the place. Lawless winks at him. There’s a heterosexual reading of this text, but I’m too busy sitting here screaming internally because Dean longs for Lawless to hand over his glove and be his chosen champion, all courtly-love style. Lawless is the childhood hero, but also the unattainable adult object of desire. In a queer read, Gunnar Lawless could easily be the first man Dean desired, and struggled over what that feeling was. There’s also the “meeting your idols” thing, and its reversal in which Dean begins in full fanboy mode, but ultimately becomes the mentor for the doomed Lawless. I kind of want to read this as a shout-out to that exchange between creators and audience, but that’s a little dark in context.
- I’m not a huge fan of the “we’re old” theme – I’m literally a year younger than Dean – but there’s a lot of parallels between the Winchesters and the Top Notch Wrestling crew. They’re older, they’re all a little broken, they’re living a difficult and unappreciated life, and the wrestlers certainly party like Winchesters (a fact Dean’s liver was seemingly unprepared for). Sam and Dean experience it differently – Sam is shocked by the wrestlers’ appearance, Dean hurts himself playing in the ring – but it’s there.
This episode may be the best illustration of Carver’s stated theme for S11 – “You can’t escape your past” – yet. That theme is everywhere: Dean and Sam revisiting a childhood thing (Sam’s first crush, Dean’s
first crushfavorite wrestler, memories of their father (both bad and good), Gunnar Lawless’ past catching up to him, Crowley v. Lucifer (recalling how we first met Crowley when our Once and Future King turns a legendary weapon on him and fails), etc.
Bonus Thing: Agent Roussimoff?! Dean, using Andre the Giant’s surname on this case is about as subtle as…well, a 7′4″ Frenchman in a singlet.
Bonus Thing #2: Confusing Crowley Backstory intensifies: why does he have a childhood portrait if he was a bastard born in squalor? Also, he has the Supernatural books in his lock-up. Awesome.
Bonus Thing #3: Sam is kind of the best brother. Full stop. (And apparently the adult in the room, but we’ll let that slide.)
Bonus Thing #4: Dean playing is the best thing ever. Y’all, the boy BOUGHT A T-SHIRT. He was so into it. So. Into it. Also, I love how he’s portrayed as graceful and talented when he’s alone, but reverts to Full Dork™ when Rio enters the room. That’s some serious-ass singing in the shower business there.