Supernatural S11E02 “Form And Void” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on E4 on Wednesdays at 10pm
Writer: Andrew Dabb
Director: Phil Sgriccia
Essential Plot Points:
- In the ghost town that is Superior, Nebraska post-The Darkness, Sam’s gathering together a whole cornucopia of goods from a DIY store to build himself a makeshift loudspeaker. His goal is to lure in a Rabid with noise – if there are any left.
- Dean drops Jenna at her Grandma’s, lovingly cradling Amara like the great Dad he would definitely be, given half the chance.
- Amara is placed in a crib whilst Jenna naps after her ordeal, and we quickly see that the baby’s already exerting her powers, psychokinetically moving a box of baby toys so it falls to the floor.
- His Rabid Trap a success, Sam sets about trying to question his catch. He discovers that different people react to the virus in different ways; essentially, some drop dead earlier than others. Given that he’s already lasted the night, Sam’s already beating most people in resilience, but the black veins in his throat are trailing higher and higher.
- Meanwhile, Castiel finds that rather than being taken to Heaven, his two “brothers” have chained him from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse and want to torture him for information on Metatron’s or Sam and Dean’s whereabouts.
- In the middle of the night, Jenna and her Grandma hear banging coming from Amara’s room. When they go to investigate, they find her floating alphabet blocks above her head, and viciously slamming a choice few into the wall with the power of her psychic baby mind to spell out “FEED ME”. Jenna’s Grandma’s reaction is to call for an exorcism. Of course.
- Jenna more level-headedly calls Dean. As soon as he hears what’s up, he pounds the breaks on the Impala and swings her back ’round.
- Just as Cas’s torturers are threatening dismemberment, who should burst in to the rescue but Hannah!
- Whilst searching for any sort of clue to a cure online, Sam hears singing in the hospital corridors. Turns out it’s a Reaper – a Reaper who is done with Sam and Dean’s constant “death and revival” shtick. This new Reaper, Billie, tells Sam that if he or his brother die again, they’ll be thrown somewhere between Heaven, Hell and Purgatory: The Empty. Considering Sam’s halfway to yet another death already, the timing couldn’t be worse.
- Quickly running out of options, Sam turns somewhere the Winchesters gave up on years ago: to God. He prays his heart out, asking for anything, even just a sign – and in return, he gets a vision of himself being horrifically tortured. He’s justifiably pissed.
- Dean arrives back at Jenna’s, only to find that a priest was in fact called in – a priest going by the name of “Father Crowley”. Yeah. That one. He’s been called in on account of “demons gone rogue”, but he can tell there’s far more going on than that.
- Hannah calls off Cas’s torturers and tries to rid him of Rowena’s attack dog spell, but it’s powerful enough that even angelic healing won’t do the trick. They get round to the subject of The Darkness – that it’s been freed. It’s news to Hannah, who starts to make demands of Castiel that are remarkably similar to the other two angel’s. Cas quickly realises that all of this was Hannah’s doing – a huge stab in the back, considering how close they used to be.
- As Dean and Crowley talk, Jenna tries to comfort Amara, and comes out a completely different person. She takes a knife and with no preamble kills her Grandmother with it. “Well hello plot twist,” as Crowley muses!
- Cas’s brothers take their torturing to the next level by using one of the shudder-inducing angelic mind hacking devices, but they don’t get far before Hannah tries to stop them, and receives a beating in return. Infuriated, Cas hulks out, breaking himself free and murdering the two angels – but not before he can save Hannah from being killed as well.
- Sam’s close to full Rabidity: his vision’s blurring and he’s losing his basic motor skills. In his last lucid moments, he recalls Billie telling him how he’s “unclean, in the biblical sense”, and so searches for “biblical purification” online. Turns out holy fire is the key to curing the virus, soSam turns to his convenient jar of holy oil.
- Making good on his “Let’s actually save people” speech, Sam uses the holy fire to save as many people from the virus as he can.
- While trying to find Jenna, Dean detours to Amara’s room, and discovers the tiny Mark of Cain branded onto her collarbone. He finally has some answers as to what they might be up against, but it’s nothing good.
- They find Jenna tossing about her Grandma’s collection of angel statues carelessly; “She won’t care, I cut her throat,” as she tells them. Crowley’s able to determine that Jenna has no soul, to which she replies, “Amara’s hungry.” Very not good.
- After her meal of Jenna’s soul, Amara has sprouted to the age of a young girl, and is heading off away from all the drama. Said drama being Dean getting the crap beaten out of him by Jenna, who Crowley slams into the ceiling and kills once he gets bored of it all. Amara’s well away by the time either of them try to find her.
- Sam and Dean return to the Bunker, talking about everything that’s happened to them over the past few days when they discover Cas lying on the floor, barely able to speak.
Crowley finds the aged-up Amara wandering the streets barefoot, and offers to give her a meal and a place to stay as he unveils four tied-up humans in the back of his van…
Well this is certainly a mixed episode Supernatural has given us. There’s a whole lotta good, but with enough questionably bad thrown in, from the sad to the hilarious, that it’s difficult to decide where exactly it lies on the scale. Still, three distinct storylines interwoven through the course of the episode means there’s a lot to get through, so credit where credit’s due: scripter Andrew Dabb’s done a good job on that front.
A primary focus point of this episode is Sam’s battle with the Rabid virus, allowing for some really great character moments. It’s no secret that Sam’s a brainy guy, and he proves it in spades this week, from his foray into DIY to figuring out the cure for Rabidity that seemed like such an impossibility last episode. The brothers work fantastically together – hell, their dynamic is the lynchpin of the show – but it’s always nice to see how well they can work alone from time to time too, especially when it means saving people. For once, maybe it’s a good thing Sam decided to lie to Dean. But this is the exception!
Good thing Sam did find a cure too, otherwise he would have been reaped and sent straight to the mysterious “Empty” that intriguing new reaper Billie introduced us to. She’s definitely got a point; the Winchesters cheat death so often that it’s become nothing more than a mild nuisance for them. Let’s not forget that Dean even killed Death only two episodes ago. To give the Winchesters a stark consequence for dying adds some sorely needed gravitas that just hasn’t been there since their fiftieth death. Give or take.
Meanwhile, Dean’s figured out that Amara is The Darkness, just downsized to a baby instead of the woman he saw last episode, which is sure to cause a whole host of problems in episodes to come. But let’s face it, this week Dean is overshadowed by Crowley. Oh, sorry – Father Crowley. Watching the King of Hell having a blast in a priest’s outfit serves as one of the top moments of the episode for sure, and on top of that he’s got a zinger a minute going. “Dean was a rather scrumptious young altar boy”? Yeah, okay. But he isn’t just comic relief, as he proves by nonchalantly murdering Jenna because he’s “bored”. He’s the King of Hell, and apparently Amara’s new caretaker to boot. That’s going to be interesting to watch.
The whole Amara storyline is where the hilariously bad bits of the episode reside, in the form of everything baby Amara. The VFX team did their best to make her seem ominous with what they were given, and kudos to them for it, but there’s just no getting around the fact that “baby + CGI = funny”. Trying to convince the audience that Amara wiggling around in her cot is her way of expressing her psychokinetic energy, showing her face morphing from “baby” to “small child”… it’s just funny. Not quite the message they were trying to get across.
Finally there’s Cas’s storyline. Once again, he’s being strung up and tortured; it’s a bit “been there, done that” by now. Nothing particularly new. Aside from Cas stalwartly remaining loyal to the Winchesters even in the face of death, (go team!) the focal point here is Hannah’s return – and subsequent death. Hannah has been a fantastic addition to SPN’s character line-up – she’s a strong-willed angel who doesn’t take any shit, plus she’s provided Cas with some sorely needed non-Winchesterial friendship and support. Not to mention that she’s the first angel since Raphael who’s been shown with both a female and male vessel! With all that in mind, you might have thought she’d get a better send-off than what she ended up with: a standard angel blade to the neck. Sigh. She’ll be missed.
Next week: Team Free Will united!
- “Who are we gonna call?” Cut to Dean: “Ghostbusters?” Andrew Dabb is a one-liner machine.
- Sam gets his moment in the spotlight this episode, powering through his infection and finding a way to cure himself and everyone else, too! We almost expected him to start chanting, “Everybody lives!” à la the 9th Doctor that one time. It’s a pretty triumphant moment.
- We’re learning more about The Darkness. For some reason she’s a baby now? Plus she has an appetite for souls. Creepy.
- Billie is a really interesting new addition to the show. Reapers have always been a fascinating aspect of SPN, and losing Tessa was a blow; hopefully Billie can fill in the hole she left. Even if it’s already clear she isn’t going to be nearly as sympathetic to their cause. She even thinks Death was going too easy on them…!
- Crowley! He’s so fun to watch this episode, with his priest outfit, one-liners (“Agent Pathetic Has-Been Rockstar’), tea..
- Hannah being brought back just to betray Cas and then… die? The betrayal stings hard, given how close the two were last season. Hannah’s always been more “follow the rules” than Castiel, but after all they’ve been through it seems incongruous. Plus her death is so off-hand. She was a regular character in season ten – surely she deserves more than she got?
- Jenna’s death. It’s a shame that she didn’t really get the chance to show off her full potential. It’s such a Supernatural move: create a new, compelling, likeable character, and kill them off before they’ve really had their time in the spotlight. She’s certainly not the first to suffer from it, and there’s no doubt she won’t be the last.
- Baby Amara and her psychic powers. Or more specifically, how they were visualised. It was supposed to be scary, probably, but alphabet blocks slamming into the wall to spell “FEED ME”? That’s hilarious.
- Sam’s “God-sent” vision is five seconds of pure nightmare fuel, even by SPN’s standards. It’s really difficult to watch, what with the hooks in his eyelids and.. everywhere else. They probably could have got the point across a bit more subtly.
And the Random:
- Triplets were used to portray baby Amara.
- When Billie’s first introduced, she’s singing “O’ Death”, which was Death’s introduction song too, back in season five.
- Cas first got Dean the holy oil back in season five – unless he’s been jumping back and forth to get them more, it’s a wonder it’s lasted this long.
Review by Jessica Anson