“So…tell me a story.”
Though linearly short on true story, this week’s ‘Supernatural’ shows us that even after two hundred plus episodes under their belts, that ‘Supernatural’ writer’s room still has an Ace or two up its sleeve. They throw it down—and then some—with “Stuck in the Middle (With You)”.
The story, at least on the surface, is pretty straightforward. Sam, Dean, and Cas are pulled into a demon hunt by Mary and Wally, the hunter British Men of Letters envoy Mick Davies approach a few episodes back. It’s Wally’s first demon hunt but he’s got plenty of backup for it. Simple, right? It is if it’s a regular black-eyed demon but Mary’s intel was a bit lacking. Turns out they’ve disturbed the apathetic Ramiel, a yellow-eyed Prince of Hell. Even after the jarring image of a bleeding Castiel cuts into the humorous and extremely well-shot diner scene, we still don’t have a clue as to just how fubar “Operation: Demon Kill” has become.
And then, to really turn things on its head, comes Crowley.
The reigning King of Hell drops the exposition of Ramiel’s identity—along with a flashback six years past—and just how far up the creek Cas is after being skewered by the Lance of Michael. Yes, that Michael. Forewarned is forearmed though and, thanks to Ramiel taking his time to stalk our white hats, they do just enough to take him down. Though Ramiel poofs out of existence thanks to the Lance, Cas is still suffering a slow and brutal death…until Crowley slides in for the save, snapping the Lance in two, effectively cancelling its debilitating effects.
But it doesn’t end there. We get not one, but two holy shitakke moments. The first is Mary relaying the harrowing confrontation with Ramiel to Mr. Ketch. She pulls out the Pulp Fiction bright-light briefcase item and it’s none other than the Colt, a weapon we haven’t seen in quite some time. And yet, as cool as this was, it comes in as a distant second to the end scene where Crowley’s doing his best to ignore the jabs from a caged up demon. No, not demon but Lucifer himself. And not just any old Lucifer but the original, fresh out the box version.
Yes folks, Mark Pellegrino’s back as my favorite Lucifer to see the small screen (no offense, Tom Ellis).
There’ll be a chance down the road where we’ll be able to talk more about Pellegrino’s return so let’s circle back to the best Supernatural season twelve has given us to date. From the moment we get the panoramic shot of the diner table and the frenetic cut to the frantic Mary and bleeding Castiel, I knew we were in for a ride. But it didn’t stop there. Sure, we’ve seen several episodes where we’ve started at the end or right in the thick of the action only to hop back into the hours or days beforehand. That’s where “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” is so much different.
A ‘Supernatural’ homage to what could arguably be praised as Quentin Tarantino’s best works—’Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’—the latter of which famously has the song this episode is named after–“Stuck” is a non-linear tale where we jump back and forth between scenes that take place in the past, present, and future. Sometimes we get it from a different angle but more often we get the tale-end of dialogue we’ve already heard but then are directed to another character’s point of view. It’s a unique approach, one most people recall from the above mentioned Tarantino works, and in the wrong hands, could have been a disaster. Thankfully, Davy Perez does a masterful job directing. Despite the jolting cuts and juxtaposition of said transitions, it’s easy to follow and not just because we get several title cards to help center our experience with those scene cuts.
And then there’s the music.
It should come as no surprise that yet another ‘Supernatural’ knocks it out of the park on the musical score side but I have to point it out here. From Gene McDaniels’ “Walk with a Winner” to a whistling version of “La donna e mobile”, nothing is more iconic than the familiar Spaghetti Western-like melodies littered throughout the episode. More than any other episode this season, those musical queues act as another character and enhance an already fantastic experience.
Overall, “Stuck” provided a much-needed boost of nitrogen after two straight monster-of-the-week episodes and also kicked-off themes for the second half of the season.
- Where do I begin? I’ve already mentioned the cinematography, the music, and directing. Also, the introduction of another line of evil ne’er-do-well in the visage of Ramiel jump-started another page in Supernatural lore.
- As Cas is slumped over, believing this is the end of the line for him, he begs Sam, Dean, and Mary to get the hell out of dodge, stressing that he doesn’t want to watch them die. “Like you said,” Dean reminds him, “we’re family. And we don’t leave family behind.” It was just a great reminder of what the show has always been about, for better or, on the rare occasions, for worse.
- Watching the Winchesters triple team Ramiel for the win was somewhat short but no less satisfying. I’m looking forward to watching the trio throw down a bit more as the season continues on. Also, the look on their faces when Ramiel brushes off their initial attack with such a dismissive air, let alone when Mary nearly drops her gun when he showcases those bright yellow eyes was fantastic. That and her staring down Mr. Ketch at the end. What a great decision to re-introduce her character into the show this season.
- Once again Crowley blurs that line of which side he’s truly on. How many opportunities has he had to literally stab the Winchesters in the back and yet never takes it. Despite his current position as King of Hell, it seems as if he can’t hold back the affinity he has for his Moose and Squirrel. Will there ever be a time where one of the two parties realizes they have to play for blood and end the other? Probably—but I’m really hoping not.
- About the only real issue I had with “Stuck” was, once again, we get a potentially bad ass character get his swan song after only one hour. The saving grace for that—the two remaining princes—eases the blow just a bit.
- A small nitpick is a line flub during the diner scene. Mary mentions that their mark gets back home at 8:45 but when Dean recaps the intel, he says 10:45. Like I said, small but I had to put it here.
- I also have to put Mary’s covert relationship with the British Men of Letters on here. Channeling her inner Black Widow by using the demon mission as an in for her true mission…well, when the boys find out mommy dearest has been keeping this nougat of information from them, it’ ain’t gonna be good.
- There were only two real moments of levity throughout: the amazing diner scene where the revolving camera took me back to my Buffy days, including some cheeky dialogue, and Crowley unexpectedly being offered the Throne of Hell but “I don’t care” Ramiel.
- Though Ramiel went up in a puff of black smoke, we now know there are two more Princes of Hell lurking around somewhere. There’s Asmodeus—who will probably remain out of the picture this season—and Dagon, who’s already thrown her name in the ring by taking an interest in Lucifer’s progeny.
- The Lance of Michael, a wonderful work of angelic craftsmanship, like Ramiel, was there and gone. Or is it? Sure, Crowley snapped it in two but who’s to say that Cas and some Men of Letters research can’t reforge it in some way. It may never return to its full glory but it won’t hurt to keep it in the bullpen. You know, just in case…
- Crowley’s turned the tables on Lucifer—“Shut your mouth, Dog.” I’m sure he will take every liberty he can with making Lucifer suffer but better watch it because we all know that Pellegrino’s Lucifer has a way of getting out of even the most impossible of prisons.
Supernatural: “Stuck in the Middle (With You)”: