Episode 09×14 AKA The one with Kevin Tran
It’s Winchester Wednesday! I, for one (again, not the Collectress, surprise!) have missed the boys and am glad to have Team Free Will well represented in this episode, if not all together as of yet. We also get the beginnings of a new Winchester dynamic (#betterbrotherbond anyone?), a Cas storyline and (spoilers) to say a proper goodbye to Kevin Tran.
The bunker is haunted. Lights flicker, the coffee machine goes wonky, and the boys figure that the bunker must be haunted by someone who recently died inside the walls. Yup. It’s Kevin Tran. The ex-prophet of the Lord is noveau dead and so it takes him a while to figure out how to manifest for Sam and Dean. He finally shows himself as Dean is in one of his self-loathing monologues, voicing what we all are thinking, which is to say the Dean Winchester, pity party of one is getting old. Kevin informs the boys that Heaven is closed, as in, no new spirits are allowed through the gates. He, along with a line of ghosts that rivals the DMV times infinity, are stuck in the Veil until further notice. Kevin reveals that he heard through the ghost-grapevine that his mom is still alive and implores the Winchesters to find her. The boys head to Wichita, Kansas to find a ghost named “Candy”, who claims to have been locked away with Linda Tran in a public storage, one the boys easily find and infiltrate.
While the boys are working together to find closure by uniting Kevin and his mother, Castiel is on the hunt for factions of angels who are loyal to Metatron. At a graveyard, Cas meets a brother who is part of the “Penitents”, an angel faction who live on Earth, humbly and in peace with humans. As Castiel ponders this shift in angel consciousness, he is discovered by two of Bartholomew’s lackeys, who bust out the angel blade and take Cas to Bart. Although Cas can tell that most of the angels want to shank first ,ask questions later, Cas worked as Bart’s commander back when Raphael tried to force the Apocalypse, so it seems this new angel leader has respect for Castiel’s work and would like to join forces. Cue collective groan from all the Cas fans across the interwebs. Bart has a good case, and even I understand that angels do things differently, and this dichotomy is one that Castiel must deal with as an angel who has free will and a Winchester. In the past, Cas has chosen to work with the angels, and even demons, because they represent a higher plane of knowledge and understanding. Still, he can’t condone the torture, and for this, Bartholomew condemns Cas. The pair fight and Cas, of course, is much handier with an angel blade than this pencil pusher, so when he gets the jump on Bart, Cas decides to walk away and let Bart live. Unfortunately, Bart won’t let Cas leave, and so the Angel of Thursday is forced to do what he does best, which is to be a soldier, and he sticks a blade in Bart’s face and light him up. Instead of fighting his way out, Cas gently asks the other angels to let him pass, and apparently makes an impression. Later on, we see that at least 4 of Bart’s former soldiers are rethinking their life choices, and would like to exercise as much free will an angel can, and hang with Castiel (who is all about free will).
In the meantime, Dean and Sam have found the public storage with a very much alive Mrs. Tran, but it is guarded by a hipster demon intern to Crowley, who gets the drop on Dean Winchester fairly quickly. Luckily, Tiger Mommy can hotwire a storage unit electrical system, and so she and Sam escape, rescue Dean and we get to see Mrs. Tran slice open the demon who has been holding her captive for the past 3 months. When the boys try to tell her about ghost-Kevin, she just says, “Take me to my son,” and back to the bunker they go. Just as Bobby was before, Kevin is bound to earth by an object. Mrs. Tran finds a ring her dead husband gave Kevin and takes it with her, thus, binding Kevin to his mother until the Winchesters can find a way to get him into heaven, where a prophet of the Lord belongs. As a dying wish, Kevin asks the Winchesters to “get over it” and become brothers again and they both promise to do so. Dean seems keen to the idea, and it looks like there might be a talk-it-out Winchester moment (where they sit on the hood of the Impala and talk about their feelings) but when Dean turns to talk with Sam, his brother has left the room without so much as a word. Dean heads back to his room alone, to listen to his headphones and deal with his issues in a (seemingly) much healthier way than he ever has before.
What This Episode Reveals About the Winchesters
The relationship between Dean and Sam is currently straining underneath the weight of all the mistakes they’ve made with one another. Sam has asked for space and Dean begrudgingly gives it to him, spending reflective time alone in his room with the headphones blasting rock music instead of all up in Sam’s business. Even though these two don’t necessarily seem to be working out their issues quite yet, there are some tangible character shifts and closure happening in the world of Winchester.
The eldest Winchester has yet to learn how to cope with his own feelings, but it seems that the writers are attempting to teach Dean a few life skills. Even a bad ass hunter like Dean Winchester needs closure when his friends die, and it felt good to see him have the chance to tell Kevin he was sorry, to rescue Mrs. Tran and to work a case with his brother sans drama. Dean seems to be experiencing a hunter’s mid-life crisis, and doesn’t know what his purpose is in the big picture of life. If he isn’t Sammy’s big, bad, brother/protector, that who is he? It is about time Dean learned to respect his brother’s boundaries as well as develop a few of his own. Sam knows you love him, dude. You don’t have to be all creepy about it anymore.
Sam has every right to remain upset at Dean until he is good and ready to talk about the “Gadreel incident”. The moose-ier Winchester has apparently laid down his boundaries and doesn’t have a problem sticking to them. The question remains, will Sam also be able to forgive Dean and move forward in their relationship as brothers? Sam has always been more emotionally well-rounded than Dean, whether it was because of his time at Stanford and away from Daddy Dearest, or just because the long hair automatically makes him more sensitive. Although I was initially against the whole “hunters not brothers” thing Sam required in order to keep hunting with Dean, it seems to be working out for them both. Sam is still keeping things strictly business between the two, which inadvertently gives both of them time to reflect on how they usually interact, thus creating room for change.
The Big Picture
The previous episodes this season have revolved around the brotherhood and family, and it seems the 2-week hiatus has brought the story to a point of reconciliation and growth. The Winchesters received closure in terms of Kevin Tran and are, hopefully, moving toward a mutually beneficial value shift in regards to the way they deal with one another. While season 9 has been very reminiscent of very early-on SPN, as in seasons 1-6, this episode reveals that the writers are trying to bring the story full circle. We see the Winchesters working hard to save people again–people that they care about and people who have been hurt because of their actions–and it is a refreshing acknowledgement to those they’ve lost along the way and gives me hope that both Dean and Sam will be able to legitimately grow and learn from their mistakes. Can this mean a Better Brother Bond in season 10 and no more codependent Winchester feels? I truly hope so. Even Cas took a stand against Bartholomew when he accepted that dying would be more honorable than living as a killer angel. He stood by his “methods” and drew boundaries that, I think, will gain him the respect of more angels in the future. Castiel, who counseled Sam to move past the mistakes and accept the fact that sometimes good intentions lead to bad deeds, seems to be taking his own advice and attempting to be the best rebel angel he can be. This might mean putting the angel blade down and living as a “penitent” faction alongside his hunters, although I can’t imagine Cas not putting a blade in Metatron’s throat if he had the chance.
The Collectiva Diva
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