Seven Things About Supernatural: 12x12 - “Stuck In The Middle (With You)”
Okay, I joked about how concerned I was about having to write Thirty-Five Things About Supernatural because of the multiple PoV action, but now that I’ve seen the ep? Y’all, we’re all going to be writing about this for a decade. There is no way I can say everything I have to say in one post. Pressure = gone. Let’s do this.
- Supernatural as a show excels at the Concept Episode – like, it’s literally a signature thing that the show does – but sweet cuppin’ cakes, this ep is on a par with some of the bigger things Robbie Thompson was doing before his departure. Davy Perez and Richard Speight Jr. fucking knocked my socks off so hard I no longer have socks. Some of that is the joyful lack of restraint in bringing the Tarantino cliches, but they’re also doing it with a solid, substantial bit of story that has implications up and down the timeline.
- NEW LORE NEW LORE NEW LORE. And it’s the good stuff, too. The Princes of Hell are another Ancient Big Bad in the vein of Cain, but still recently active enough via Azazel that it’s not like, “HEY! SURPRISE!”
Plus, great shock factor for the characters AND the audience when Ramiel’s eyes go yellow.
Ramiel, like Azazel, appears in the Book of Enoch as a fallen angel. Dagon is mentioned in Biblical literature as a deity among the Philistines, and is attested as early as the Bronze age (for those of us Watching While Pagan). Asmodeus has a long pedigree as a demonic force – he’s a baddie in the Book of Tobit, for example – and is the only one of the four to also be among the seven classic Crown Princes of Hell in the Sixteenth Century stuff, which seems to be a frequent aesthetic influence on SPN generally.
This ep didn’t just leave the door open for Asmodeus and Dagon to join the party. It handed them an engraved invitation with Kelly Kline and the Winchesters’ names on it.
- OKAY, BUT THE CROWLEY STUFF. For an episode that I mostly failed to realize before air was a Crowley episode, there is a ton of character stuff happening with him here.
Gaining the crown, for example, more or less at the pleasure of the Princes? It makes a lot of sense, and especially helps drive home how tenuous his position is. It also clarifies a little how he came to a position that he does not love in its particulars, but clings to because the only thing worse than having it is not having it.
Which, given that Ramiel just got Winchestered on his watch, is a real possibility if Dagon and Asmodeus decide to get involved. Which, given that Dagon is already interested in Kelly…well, there’s a reason Crowley wants the Colt back. He broke the OTHER tool he’d need to do the job to save Cas.
(Cas who is “not a friend.” Right, Crowley. Yeah, there’s strategic value in keeping him around and the Winchesters happy/in your debt, but with two angry Princes, breaking Michael’s Lance is basically gambling with your life, and you don’t do that for someone you don’t have some attachment to.)
We also see that he’s rebuilding his position in Hell, and is at least making some attempt to put right his humiliation at Lucifer’s hands by turning the tables. Which, given that this is Lucifer we’re talking about…well, I have concerns. Especially because Crowley’s luck rarely runs smooth.
- But hey, Lucifer’s in a cage right now. That’s good, right? I mean, he’s probably not going to stay in there, because Lucifer is the dickest of dicks, and that whole Nephilim thing is going to come bite us all in the ass soon, but hey. I’ll take it.
- So. Mary. Mary is in the process of learning (the hard way, and at great risk to herself and others) that Unilateral Choices Involving Secretive Deals With Douchebags is not the way to secure the greater good. In fact, she’s sort of finding herself in Cas’ position from back in S6. It’s a colossal breach of trust, which she struggles with in the final confrontation with Ramiel.
And, like Cas, she opts to press on in the belief that she can handle it, that her stab at this is going to be worth the hazard, that the ends are going to justify the means if she can hold out long enough.
- So just in case anybody missed it:
A) Cas is family, both in Cas’ mind and on the Winchesters’ side.
B) As in Sam and Dean won’t leave his side even though an Azazel-level baddie is getting ready to eject them from his barn.
C) Mary even called him one of her boys.
D) “I love you. I love all of you.”
Please excuse me while I weep openly.
- Okay, but did any of us expect Wally to survive this episode? Because honestly, the lineup here was like a classic Star Trek away team, with four Named and Knowns accompanied by That Other Poor Bastard Who Isn’t Coming Home™.
Like, I took one look at the promo shots and was like, “there is no prayer circle big enough to save this man.”
I liked Mandy. A lot. She was snarky and she probably smelled delicious.
But I do have questions about why Cas didn’t spot her as a demon in the cafe. I mean, I suppose it’s possible she’s not a meatsuit full-time, but it’s more usual for demons to stick around in the bodies they’ve claimed, and it makes a ton of sense for Crowley to have informants posted in the area around Ramiel’s farm so that he can help manage his end of the deal. But yeah, if there’s a complaint to be made about this episode, this is mine. Oh hey, never mind. The demon I mistook for Mandy is actually Ronnie, who is played by an entirely different person. Mandy probably still smells delicious, and not at all like sulfur.
Bonus Thing #2:
OKAY BUT THE COLT. THE COLT IS BACK. THE COLT. THE COLT THE COLT THE COLT. So that’s neat. Question, though: what’s with the lighting in the box? Is the box illuminated? Is the lighting diegetic (i.e. a real thing in the story world) or are we just having Pulp Fiction fun? Time to tweet Davy Perez…