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16 January 2009 @ 12:09 pm
SPN: "Family Remains" Episode Review + Meta  
Now my shows are finally returning (and BSG is tonight, holy shit y'all!) I'm returning back to my old habit of episode reviews with some meta. It's been quite a while since I've done these, and it feels good to get back into the rhythm of it. Yay.

Supernatural 4.11 "Family Remains"

After the hiatus, this episode has Sam and Dean, after a month of endless hunting case after case, going off on yet another hunt regarding the a particular house in which they suspect might have a ghost or poltergiest living there after a man mysteriously dies. While the house has been emptied, apparently a new family who'd bought the house arrives, settling into their new home. This provides some difficulty for the boys to investigate further. After gathering additional information about the man that died in that house, strange things happen as the two children of the family start having freaky encounters with a "girl in the walls." Sam and Dean burst into the scene hoping to protect and defend the family and take this ghost out, but things get turned around the girl isn't a ghost and they've been rendered defenseless. No weapons of any kind other than the things around them.

Discovering that the girl is merely human, the Winchesters investigate further into this mysterious house and it's non-ghost inhabitant, and find out more than they ever wanted to know. It's a scary non-supernatural episode at its finest, dealing with the terrors of what humanity can do, even when it's just a girl (and her twin brother, apparently) who have been living like animals for most of their lives.

After taking care of that case, Dean's feelings about Hell emerge once again, in another confession to his brother and why he actually empathsized with that particular hunting case. Leaving us to question more about Dean's purpose of being brought back, and if there's going to be forgiveness from others and, more importantly, himself.


Family Remains: It's all you have, even if it haunts you

This episode presented something that this season has been giving to us, that sometimes the worst things are inside of yourself, and without people around you that love and care for you, how will go on surviving if only to dig yourself deeper? The family looking for a fresh start were escaping from a horrible tragedy, the girl and her brother being unfortunate products in the worst kind of abuse and being held captive and imprisoned like animals, not even being regarded as people; these two reflected each other in that the latter had nothing other than what they've known whereas the family had each other, and like the wife said in the end, they are together and that should be enough.

I felt sorry for the girl and her brother living inside the walls of the house. They never asked for something like that, they were automatically placed in that situation and it's all they've ever known. Hunting for food through animals, tormenting adults and wanting other children to play with, not understanding the morality of what they were doing as they were only doing it for survival, protecting their territory and nothing else. While nothing supernatural about it, it's the scariest thing about humanity that even sometimes horrible things happen for no particular reason.

So where does this leave the brothers? Family has always been something they've clinged to, and they do have each other. This episodic story was more in connection to Dean's time in Hell and how he compared himself to the unfortunate case.


Hell, the Literal Kind and the Personal Kind

Dean's recollection of Hell, of what he'd done for the remaining ten years before he was rescued from those fiery pits, is slowing eating away at him. Surely when he came back he was fine, but him remembering and beating himself up over torturing other unfortunate souls is going to break him. This is why I really wish they hadn't allowed him to remember all those years he'd spent downstairs, because even though he's been saved those memories and images seered into his brain like that is bound to make anyone go absolutely mad.

It's obvious that he isn't to blame for what happened. He did what anyone would've done, and he didn't give into Alastair's offer for thirty years in Hell while I'm sure most other souls would've given in a lot sooner. But he's placing all the blame on himself, making a personal hell for what he did, which I can understand his initial mistrust and misunderstanding the reason why he was pulled from Hell in the first place. Why him? Why him and not other souls, isn't he beyond saving? Why should God want him out from the pit when he was the one doing the torturing, when he didn't last long enough, when he didn't give into the selfish need to take away his own pain by inflicting it onto others? Why does he deserve salvation from everything he's done? It places into perspective his mental state, not to mention his conflictedness over believing in heavenly angels and God and all that other stuff. Surely he's battling over his own faith since he didn't really have a strong belief before, but he wants answers to all that, especially why he was pulled out in the first place.

Which is why I believe after everything the time is perfect, now more than ever, for Dean's absolution. He has now revealed his secret to Sam, and it's obvious the angels and even God knows what he suffered through in Hell, his confessions are what I consider something to release him from his pain, that in order for him to move onward he has to unleash his darkest secrets to overcome them. It's apparent he was chosen for a reason, and I seriously doubt that reason is to save Sam, since that's been his lifelong mission all along. No, I think he has to save himself as he's on the brick of breaking. I mean, if Dean was chosen for something larger than life in this Apocalyptic war he can't very well work underneath all that pressure while overcome with all that emotional weight and guilt. He needs to make peace, to understand that he is forgiven and that God Himself forgives him and, most of all, that he needs to forgive himself for everything.

Another belief I have is perhaps this is one of the reasons why Castiel was chosen to save Dean in the first place; he's not exactly of the higher ups in the angelical order, but I believe having him being patient and understanding Dean and entrusting everything with him that it would be a lovely notion that Castiel is Dean's way for absolution.

I don't even know if that makes sense to anyone, but from how they're setting up Dean and Castiel's relationship it's simply more than just business. Of course, I know that Castiel is becoming more fond of Dean and this may or may not serve as some consequence, but there's a reason and I refuse to believe otherwise.


Episodic Memorable Moments:

++ SUPERNATURAL IS BACK, Y'ALL! IT IS BACK! ♥

++ This episode needed some Castiel, dammit. I'll keep saying that in every episode he's not in, because to me any scene with Castiel is worthwhile. At least we saw him in the "THEN/NOW" previouslies? Not enough, but still.

++ The freakiest non-supernatural episode, like for real. Definitely going back to the S1 feel of things regarding suspense and pacing and the OMGSURPRISE! twists and turns. A callback to "The Benders" which centered about the inhumane way of humanity, not demons or ghosts or anything like that, and an episode I really liked so this didn't disappoint. Which is a nice change from everything we've dealt with so far this season. I mean, I do want more things involving the Apocalypse, but after everything we do need something a bit different. This was a great episode to start off the second half of the season, IMO.

++ Dean isn't sleeping, taking on a lot of hunts, wanting to forget everything about his confession. Oh Dean, bb, you're destroying yourself. *sad face* See, this is why I really wish they hadn't allowed him to remember everything, dammit. CASTIEL, HEAL THIS POOR BOY!

++ Incestuous twins who live in the walls of a house, eating rats, terrorizing adults and wanting other children to play with and are kleptomaniacs. Yep, leave it to Kripke to bring some twisted stuff into this show. And I love him for it, that magnificent bastard. *g*

++ SALT LINE DIDN'T WORK, OH NOES! I fully expected it to work too, and when it was revealed that the girl wasn't a ghost but in fact human, I was like WTF OMG SRSLY? Totes fooled me. Nicely done, show. Nicely done.

++ "Humans, man." I concur, Dean. I concur.

++ "NOBODY MESSES WITH A MAN'S WHEELS!!!" LOL, O DEAN.

++ It's interesting I've seen some comments about "OMG IT'S JUST A HUMAN, KILL HER!" when really, it's not that simple. Sure the boys are more inept dealing with monsters and demons and the like, but humans are more complicated and we've seen this before regarding "The Benders", so I don't understand why some are sighing over it as though overpowering two very resourceful individuals is such an easy task to accomplish.

++ I liked Dean's reaction to the whole "the Daddy is the Baby Daddy?" thing. LOL.

++ Dean's utter remorse to not saving the uncle. My God, he really is trying to save as many people as possible in order to make up for his time in Hell, isn't he? Just the look on his face when he turns back and says "I'm so sorry" to the family is just so, gah! That plus the ending scene, which o hai thar exposition, is another reason why Jensen deserves a lot of recognition. Dammit. (I should also be saying this about Misha and his wordless yet expressive scenes because, damn! Just saying.)

++ Also Dean mentions God in this episode. Not directly, but I felt that it was a deliberate mention nonetheless.

++ The only thing I had trouble with this episode was when the brother was introduced like, in the last ten minutes or so. Was there any indication of another sibling before that? No. I felt that was a bit over-rushed to include another shocker, but I don't know. I kinda worked but then again it kinda confused me. Also, what happened to the girl? What dragged her back and killed her? I totes missed that part.

++ This episode was darker than usual, both in content (which I liked) and visually; perhaps it was the screen I was watching it in, but it was the lighting, or lack thereof, in many scenes nearing the end. Adding to the creeptastic atmosphere, of course.


Overall: I really enjoyed this episode, it definitely felt like Supernatural even though it was of a non-supernatural kind of story this time. Honestly, while I am fully engaged with the Apocalyptic mytharc this season, I like the human-based stories a lot too. Because if there's anything more scarier than demons and even BAMF!angels, it's the capabilities of human beings. Or perhaps I'm in anticipation for BSG tonight that'd made me really like last night's episode? IDK, but I did like the amount of suspense, the mystery, the pacing and even the twists they added, plus some stuff about Dean (even though we, the dedicated audience, already knew from the previous episode but hey, exposition is exposition in case anyone had forgotten). Some may consider it filler, I consider it a nice opener after the hiatus without it being boring at all. Kudos to you, show. NOW BRING ME MAH CASTIEL, BIATCHES!
 
 
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Bear McCreary - Worthy of Survival
 
 
 
The Large Purple Weed: Castiel is :(tracy on January 16th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
THIS IS THE REACTION POST I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, AND YOU DIDN'T DISAPPOINT, BB. ♥♥♥!

No Castiel. :(

I thought there were some interesting parallels between Dan's kids and the ones in the wall -- none of them wanted to be there, and all four were forced there by their fathers. Obviously Dan >>> that incestuous rapist, but it made me pause to think. Not sure where I was going with this, so moving on.

Oh god, I love that idea, Dean having to save himself before he can save the world. I always sort of thought of it as the other way around -- Dean saves the world, he finally forgives himself. But I love this, maybe he does have to forgive himself first, before he can do anything else. love, love, love.

Yes, I'm glad Castiel isn't too high up, as far as the angel hierarchy goes. He has more patience, more time, and he's younger (presumably?) so probably more likely to let his emotions get the better of him and bond with Dean. I was talking about this with someone else a few weeks back, but maybe if Castiel ends up falling for whatever reason, it'll turn out that he was always meant to.

No Castiel. :(

God, yes, Dean tried so hard to save Ted, and then.. oh my god, that look said more to me than his monologue in the end, actually. *cries*

No Castiel. :( :( :(
Renée: Castiel. Into the Light.rogueslayer452 on January 16th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, I get where you're going with that, and I do see the implications there as well. It appears that those kids in the wall are more willing to be with other children than adults, based on how their own father treated them and thus ended up hating adults altogether. I felt that if things had gone better (however that could've happened, I don't know) a friendship would've been made instead of outright kidnapping the boy which was more of a threat to the family than anything.

I think I've always felt that Dean needs to forgive himself, because he's always placing all this weight on his shoulders and thinking things are his fault, he doesn't deserve this or that. He needs absolution before he heals the world, and I think it's a classic redemption story for someone like Dean, and especially if Castiel's role is to help guide him down that path (much like how Six is with Gaius, OMG SEE WHUT I DID THAR?! XD)

Castiel falling is a plausible move, though I would think God's plan for him is more deeper than just him falling. I think perhaps Castiel's true orders were to understand humanity on a level most angels hadn't known. I'm not quite sure how this can work exactly or if I'm explaining it properly as it sounds in my head, but maybe God's plan is to help guide both Castiel and Dean as they start to understand each other better, start to find something more than what they've known. Like you mentioned in your little essay about Dean/Castiel, they'll need each other as they go through some philosophical changes regarding their faith.

And yes, I also believe that whatever mission Castiel was sent for, his destiny has already been written and meant for him. His questioning and doubts, his deep admiration for Dean, everything. It all has a reason.

NO CASTIEL. ;_; I MAY HAVE WIBBLED WHEN I DIDN'T SEE HIS NAME IN THE CREDITS, THOUGH THE EPISODE WAS CREEPY THAT I THINK I PREFERRED CAS NOT TO BE TRAUMATIZED BY THE CRUELTY OF IT. SRSLY.

AND YAY! I FULFILLED YOUR SPN NEEDS WITH MAH REVIEW/META POST! MY MISSION, IT BE ACCOMPLISHED! \O/ I'LL BE DOING ONE FOR TONIGHT'S EP OF BSG AS WELL!!! I LOVES MAH FANDOMS, YES I DO! :D :D :D
The Large Purple Weed: Dean/Castiel 2tracy on January 17th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
Aww, yes, I totally wanted there to be some moment of understanding between the boy and the girl in the wall, and it almost seems like there was, when he was talking about her, but then the rat thing kind of ruined it. :P Although I think she tried, it seemed like she was bringing the rat to him as a gift? (How cat-like.) And she was disappointed when he didn't like it. :( I feel for her too, actually.

AHAHAHAHHA. PLEASE ALWAYS INSERT RANDOM BSG PARALLELS INTO EVERYTHING YOU TALK ABOUT. <333333333333333333333333333333333333333

I think perhaps Castiel's true orders were to understand humanity on a level most angels hadn't known.

This is so gorgeous it actually, literally made me catch my breath. Oh my god, there is so much meta and fic in this I don't even know where to begin. God, I'm going to be thinking about this for a long, long time, bb, it makes perfect sense to me. Perfect.

I THOUGHT MAYBE THE FACT THAT HE TOOK UP LIKE HALF THE "PREVIOUSLY" THAT HE'D MAKE AN APPEARANCE, BUT. D: D: D:

KFLDJ;SALFKDJFLSDJLK;FSDJL SO EXCITED FOR YOUR BSG META, BB. SO EXCITED. ILUSM.
Renée: Castiel. To have faith.rogueslayer452 on January 17th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, I felt that too in regards to the rat. She was trying to communicate with him, offering it like a gift or toy, but he rejected it so she was like "aw well, dinner!" I felt so bad for them, for all of them really.

RANDOM PARALLELS ARE RANDOM BUT MAKE SO MUCH SENSE! CAUSE WE ALL KNOW THE ANGELS = CYLONS, F'REALS!!

This is so gorgeous it actually, literally made me catch my breath. Oh my god, there is so much meta and fic in this I don't even know where to begin. God, I'm going to be thinking about this for a long, long time, bb, it makes perfect sense to me. Perfect.

Awwww! *blushes* Thanks bb! It's truly how I feel, because I can't think of anything else that would fit other than that purpose. Sure he was sent to save Dean and perhaps become his protector of sorts, guide him during this time of war, but Castiel also has his mission which might be cryptic and he doesn't fully understand but, his faith in God makes it so, and maybe everything'll come to pass as we become more aware of why he's truly there in the first place. OMG I AM RAMBLING NOW STOP ME BEFORE I S'PLODE WITH OTHER RANDOMNESS.

I KNOW! I WAS LIKE...BUT WHERE MY CAS?? *SAD FACE IS SAD*

BS-FRAKING-G, FOR REAL. *G*
flood_and_fire on January 16th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
*shudder* this episode reminded me of the horrifying case of that guy, josef fritzl, who locked his daughter up in this underground chamber and raped her, resulting in her having children.



Renée: Castiel. To have faith.rogueslayer452 on January 16th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Art imitates life, for reals. It's a terrifying kind of reality which I like and also shudder at because, this stuff does actually happen in real life. So mixing it with fiction also brings forth a sort of surreal realism that most of us forget exists out there in the real world, and it's more terrifying than any demon or monster.
amanda: [supernatural] castielmorbidmuse on January 16th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
I've missed being able to read your SPN reviews! After being behind in the show for SO LONG, I am finally able to read one again! YAY!

if there's anything more scarier than demons and even BAMF!angels, it's the capabilities of human beings.
That is really well put. And I think the episode did a great job showing that. It is sad and creepy.

The only thing I had trouble with this episode was when the brother was introduced like, in the last ten minutes or so.
Aw, really? I really liked that, actually. I thought the whole family situation was really well done. Early in the episode there is a moment of just the parents and the mom says something about how she's concerned that the big move won't make them happy. And the dad is like "it will, it has to". And you don't know then exactly what happened, if it is a marriage problem or a general life problem or something specific, but I liked that it seemed realistic and showed a greater depth to what could have been throw away characters. And I really liked that the oldest brother was killed in an unsupernatural way. Because sometimes tragedy really does strike families for no reason and then they have to move on and continue living and they don't advertise their past to every stranger. IDK, I guess they just really worked for me.

This episode was darker than usual
I definitely agree. It wasn't just your screen, the lighting was dark in this episode.

perhaps this is one of the reasons why Castiel was chosen to save Dean in the first place; he's not exactly of the higher ups in the angelical order, but I believe having him being patient and understanding Dean and entrusting everything with him that it would be a lovely notion that Castiel is Dean's way for absolution.
That's a really cool idea! I like that.

This episode definitely needed some Castiel. :/
Renée: SPN. Castiel.rogueslayer452 on January 16th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
WHY HELLO THAR, BB! LONG TIME NO CHAT, EH? XD So glad you've been able to catch up. *g*

I liked that it seemed realistic and showed a greater depth to what could have been throw away characters. And I really liked that the oldest brother was killed in an unsupernatural way. Because sometimes tragedy really does strike families for no reason and then they have to move on and continue living and they don't advertise their past to every stranger.

You have a good point there. The show did an excellent job at making both situations between family sad, along with terrifying and those problems being the problems all humans have just dealt differently, and that tragedy does strike unexpectedly and it's how you deal with it that makes you who you are. Much like Dean who has had much on his shoulders since he was a kid, he's been dealing with all this pain and remorse and guilt but bottles it up and resumes to self-hatred. They've given so much and lost so much, and yet they continue on. I liked that they gave parallels between those families and Dean's situation, because it's obvious he wants to move on but can't because he's still stuck with those memories of hell.

I guess my thing with the reveal of the brother was kinda almost random, they've dealt with this girl but suddenly there's another addition. It was a good twist to reveal, but I don't know. It made me think OMG RANDOM BROTHER! in the middle of watching it. But after reading your comment and contemplating it, I can see otherwise. Heh.

I definitely agree. It wasn't just your screen, the lighting was dark in this episode.

Which is most awesome. This show thrives on gritty, dark lighting and the tight confined spaces in this episode really gave away the suffocating atmosphere, adding to the creepy.

Yes, this episode needed some Cas time. :( I wants mah angel, m'kays? But it's a good thing that Misha has been contracted for more eps, and possibly next season to be a regular. So, we won't be losing him anytime soon.
amanda: [supernatural] highway to hellmorbidmuse on January 17th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I KNOW! I misssss you, sweetie. ♥

Thanks for taking the time to consider what I said. :) I still think the murdering siblings had a random brother, but I did like the inclusion of Andy. ;D

Misha has been contracted for more eps, and possibly next season to be a regular.
Seriously? I didn't know that! Awesome.
Renée: Blair Waldorf. Smile.rogueslayer452 on January 17th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
*hugs you*

Yep! Misha was originally scheduled for six episodes, but after the fandom explosion over his character they extended his contract for six more episodes!!! And if/when there's a fifth season, he'll become a regular. :D
yeah, i live on the hellmouth.vichan on January 16th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
Awesome meta.

Why him? Why him and not other souls, isn't he beyond saving? Why should God want him out from the pit when he was the one doing the torturing, when he didn't last long enough, when he didn't give into the selfish need to take away his own pain by inflicting it onto others? Why does he deserve salvation from everything he's done?
I'm waiting for a real angry Dean to demand these answers from Castiel, actually. Spitting, viciously pissed off Dean, blaming Castiel and taking his self-esteem out on the one who pulled him out. (Or maybe this is just in a fic I'm writing, *cough* but I still think this scene isn't out of the question on the show.)

Another pressing question is "why did you wait?" If Dean is a necessary member of the Apocalypse Prevention Squad, why did heaven wait 4 months/40 years to save him? Why didn't they get him before he broke? Does his purpose have something to do with what he did in hell, what he became? Is he going to be an enforcer and torturer for heaven? (Now there's a disturbing thought.) Or was Castiel just fighting that whole time to get to Dean, and couldn't get there in time?

And yes, I totally agree about DEAN needing to be the one to forgive himself. Forgiveness can't come from Sam, or Castiel, or Bobby, or ANYONE but Dean, because he's the only one who is in the position to give forgiveness. (Okay, or maybe one of the souls he tore into, but I doubt we're going to get that.)

Edited at 2009-01-16 11:22 pm (UTC)
Renée: Castiel. To have faith.rogueslayer452 on January 16th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you, muchly. :)

I would kinda love for Dean to suddenly approach Castiel at some point and bombard him with all these questions, all these things he needs to know. The whys and how comes and all that. Though I doubt Castiel will be able to answer those questions directly, it really should be something the show should do at some point, for Dean to just ask simply "why was I chosen to be saved...and don't say 'cause God commanded it, I want to know why!" It would also allow us to have more Dean/Castiel bonding time, since we do need more of those moments.

If Dean is a necessary member of the Apocalypse Prevention Squad, why did heaven wait 4 months/40 years to save him? Why didn't they get him before he broke? Does his purpose have something to do with what he did in hell, what he became? Is he going to be an enforcer and torturer for heaven? (Now there's a disturbing thought.) Or was Castiel just fighting that whole time to get to Dean, and couldn't get there in time?

Now those are some interesting questions to consider, and I do think it's a valid thing to ask. The enforceer/torturer in Heaven thing probably isn't going to work unless Kripke has another twisted vision of Heaven, but I really do like the latter. If it's to be revealed that Castiel had been fighting the forces of evil down in Hell in order to get to deal all that time would definitely be an interesting turn, and perhaps Dean can lighten up and understand that while angels are powerful beings, having only one to go into the Pit and save one particular soul isn't an easy task. It might probably make the relationship between them closer if that were the case, and much sympathies for Castiel because he battled through Hell to save this poor broken soul.

Dean needs forgiveness from himself than anyone, though how can he achieve that if all he's feeling is self-hatred and there's nothing around him to convince him otherwise? I think he does need people like Sam and Bobby and Castiel around to help him understand, but the rest is on him. Poor Dean. :(