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8x13 - Everybody Hates Hitler

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  • 8x13 - Everybody Hates Hitler

    I wasn't to wild about the fact that it was a Nazi-story line, but I thought the episode was good and I enjoyed it.

    Sam & Dean find the library that the Men of Letters were using, so there is some follow-up to the events of the last episode which I like. They've got a bunch of books they can read through and a new place to hang out and it looks like they lived there for two weeks.

    The timing of Sam & Dean finding the Men of Letters club house and the Rabbi burning up (after he'd been looking for decades) is one of those coincidences that always seems to happen on TV Shows.

    I liked Aaron and I hope we'll see him and his Golem again in the future. It seemed like the writers left room to bring back the Thule Society in another episode by having the Commandant say that they would keep coming right before he died.

    I haven't seen much of anything that deals with Golems. They exist in Discworld, but they look much more like clay than they do human in that world. I like that Supernatural explores the legends and myths of so many different cultures.

  • #2
    I daresay that Ben Edlund’s Everybody Hates Hitler is my new favourite episode of the season; maybe it even constitutes as a new Supernatural classic, as it seems to herald a new era for Sam and Dean and maybe even for the hunters’ community at large, but I guess that depends on how the writers will continue from here on out. The episode mainly builds on the new mythology that was introduced in As Time Goes By and gives Sam and Dean an opportunity to acquaint themselves with their paternal heritage. Moreover, it gives us a highly enjoyable interaction between the brothers, an interesting monster-of-the-week case and two extremely likeable new characters, which I would love to see become recurring characters on the show. Overall, Everybody Hates Hitler leaves me deeply satisfied and happy, which I did not think was possible given how frustrated I was with the first half of the season.

    * * *

    Everybody Hates Hitler is the third episode in a row that has an entirely different tone and feel than the first ten episodes of the season, and I cannot help but wonder if the writers changed course mid-season because they realised that their narrative is not working, or if this turnaround has been the plan from the beginning. I know that some fans have come to the conclusion that the inconsistent first half of the season is the result of Jeremy Carver’s attempt to clumsily resolve the unwanted storylines Sera Gamble left him at the end of the previous season, but I think that is very unlikely. As I understand it, the last few episodes of S7 expressly served the purpose of setting up Carver’s vision for S8, and the fact that those episodes felt out of step with the rest of S7 supports that impression. Besides, I find it rather doubtful that Carver had no influence whatsoever on the way S7 ended. I daresay it is common courtesy to involve the new showrunner in the proceedings, if only to guarantee a smooth transition. In any case, the current change in direction is definitely working for me, and I hope the writers continue on this path for the rest of the season. Now, I have little doubt that I will still find everything that involves the angel/demon/tablet storyline rather mind-numbing, but the addition of the Men of Letters storyline, as well as the natural characterisation for Sam and Dean, will go a long way to make that part of the mytharc more bearable for me.

    Sam: "Dean, look, I think we might have something here. Something that could help us, help humanity. Henry certainly thought so. I mean, you know damn well we could use a break. What if we finally got one?"

    I admit, I somehow did not expect Sam and Dean to find the Men of Letters’ repository – or the Batcave, as Dean instantly christens it – right away. I rather assumed that the coordinates Larry gave Sam last episode would turn out to be a misdirect and that the brothers would have to go on a quest of sorts to find it. But, hey, I am not going to complain! Now, the Batcave is a fairly impressive location and much fancier than Sam and Dean’s usual home bases. It has nothing of the rustic charm of Rufus’ cabin or the cosy lived-in feel of Bobby’s house, but I think its nostalgic atmosphere suits the Winchesters just as well. And given how quickly Sam and Dean take to their new place, one cannot help but feel that the brothers have finally come home. Besides, the uniqueness of the location certainly helps to sell the idea that this moment marks a new beginning for Sam and Dean. I think it will do the brothers a world of good to have a place where they can feel entirely safe; a place where no angels, demons, monsters or hostile humans can drop in on them and where they can recuperate or talk strategy or just plain relax and have fun. Moreover, having access to modern conveniences, like good water pressure – nice nod to Bugs, by the way – sufficient heating, unlimited power and internet access will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Sam and Dean’s material and emotional well-being.

    The brothers’ visible enthusiasm and awe when they set out to explore their new home is just infectious. As was to be expected, Sam almost instantly immerses himself in the Men of Letters’ extensive library, while Dean just revels in the amenities the Batcave has to offer. I love particularly the scene where Dean tells his little brother not to geek out over the book collection, only to geek out himself when he sets eyes on an antique scimitar. It is just so heart-warming to see both brothers happy for once. I also rather like the scene where Dean returns from his trip to Garth’s, only to find his brother still hunched over his books. I particularly like what this scene implicates, namely that having a stationary home allows them to create their own private spaces; they are no longer forced to be together 24/7, and that should have a stabilising influence on their relationship. After all, we have seen more than once that their constant proximity to each other can result in petty fighting, because they have no possibility to retread. Here, Dean is free to hit the road in his beloved Impala and check up on Kevin and Garth, secure in the knowledge that Sam is safe and will be there upon his return. And Sam can stay behind in their Batcave to do his own thing, without alienating Dean or letting him down.

    However, the Batcave not only offers the brothers personal comforts, but also a strategic advantage and I love that Sam immediately realises that. Knowledge is power, after all, and Sam and Dean now have all the knowledge at their disposal and therefore all the power. Well, once they know how to utilise it, of course, but still. It is the first time in the history of the show that Sam and Dean are way ahead of their enemies. Moreover, the brothers can decide to use that knowledge to empower other hunters as well. While it makes sense that they would keep the existence of the repository a secret for now – after all, the power contained therein would surely attract every angel, demon and monster on the planet – it is easy to imagine that, at some point, it could serve as the main hub for the hunters’ community once again. I think Sam is right. This could be the break they need, the break humanity needs. As I already pointed out in my review to Torn and Frayed, Sam and Dean’s mission to close the gates of heaven and hell is not about them, specifically, it is about the future welfare of humanity, and as such the brothers should not need to carry this burden alone. Other hunters can (and should) help and informed civilians can step up, too. Humanity could fight back under the leadership of Sam and Dean Winchester, and I find it thrilling that the writers might have set something like that up here. For the first time in a very long time, I feel that there is a real sense of hope in Supernatural, and that hope is poignantly captured in that final shot of Sam and Dean contentedly toasting to each other with a glass of fine whiskey and Frankie Laine’s 'On the Sunny Side of the Street' playing in the background.

    Dean: "What are you doing?"
    Sam:: "Ordering. I’m making a card entry for our copies from the Thule’s red ledger for our collection."
    Dean: "So, what? Aaron’s a JI and you’re a Man of Letters now? Is that it? Good!"

    While finding the Men of Letters’ repository offers both brothers a safe base of operations and a place they can call their home, it provides Sam with something of even greater worth, namely his own place in the world of hunting, a place where he belongs. From the moment the brothers set foot in their very own Batcave, Sam whole-heartedly and competently embraces his heritage as a Man of Letters – and it is a marvellous thing to watch. It feels like a piece that has been missing from Sam’s life finally falls into place and allows him to complete his journey. I mean, all his life, the mantle of a hunter never quite seemed to fit Sam. From a young age on, Sam knew that the role John tried to force on him was not right for him, and he may have labelled his dream to go to college as a search for normality and safety, but ultimately he was following his desire to become a scholar. Now, these past couple of years, Sam nonetheless chose to stay in the life, but his motivation was mainly driven by external factors, like finding John (S1), escaping his own destiny (S2), saving Dean (S3), taking revenge on Lilith (S4), atoning for his failures (S5), righting soulless Sam’s wrongs (S6) or controlling his mental instability (S7). That is not to say that Sam did not find meaning in the act of hunting itself, quite the contrary, actually, but I think it was never a calling for him like it was for Dean. In becoming a Man of Letters, however, Sam now finds his own calling. I admit, I find the way the Winchesters’ family history ties into Sam’s story deeply satisfying, and I commend the writers for pulling Sam into the world of hunting in a way that not only feels natural, but also keeps Sam’s self-identity intact.

    I think it is interesting to imagine how differently Sam’s life would have turned out, had he (and John and Dean) known about this part of his family history earlier. For example, if John had discovered the truth about his own heritage in those first couple of years after Mary’s death, he probably would have been more accepting of Sam’s desire to become a scholar rather than a hunter and hence their falling out over hunting versus a normal life could have been avoided. Or, if we go even further back and imagine that John and his sons had been raised in the Winchesters’ traditional role as Men of Letters all along, maybe it would have been Dean, who felt out of place in his family. Maybe Dean would have been the one to clash with Sam and John about his role in life and break away from the family business in order to become a hunter instead. I also wonder if having access to the Men of Letters’ knowledge at any point would have improved Sam and Dean’s chances when heaven and hell came after them to use them as pawns in their plan to bring about the apocalypse. If I were a fanfiction writer, I would be itching to explore the intriguing scenarios the Men of Letters’ storyline opens up.

    Anyway, at the beginning of the season I pointed out that revisiting the old argument of hunting versus a normal life would only make sense if the writers add something new to it, and I think this turn in Sam’s arc finally resolves said argument in a novel and unforeseen manner. I now wonder if the writers chose Sam’s 'domestic' storyline in the first half of the season with the express goal of preparing for this very moment of Sam finally finding a place where he can truly belong. I will admit that, no matter how badly the Sam/Amelia storyline was written at times, watching Sam comfortably settle into his new role as a Man of Letters really packs an extra emotional punch after watching him try (and fail) to find his place in the normal world, again. The contrasts between now and earlier in the season are really striking. For example, Sam’s visible contentment and enthusiasm when he and Dean move into their new Batcave inevitably evokes the memory of Sam’s awkward and out-of-place demeanour when he first settled into his new 'home' with Amelia in Hunteri Heroici. And where Sam’s academic ambitions have been a point of conflict between the brothers, like in Heartache, for example, they now serve to strengthen their partnership. In Torn and Frayed, Sam may have recommitted himself to hunting out of a sense of obligation, but in the end he unexpectedly finds personal fulfilment where he least expected it – and maybe now he can truly make peace with his life.

    Now, obviously all this does not mean that Sam will stop pulling his weight as a fighter, and it also does not mean that Dean’s contribution to their research will become dispensable. The strength of Sam and Dean as a team is that they are both more than capable of doing either; Sam’s aptitude as a fighter allows him to have Dean’s back, and Dean’s ability to connect the dots complements Sam’s factual knowledge. That has not changed. However, they both now draw a sense of purpose from hunting that fits their individual disposition, and that can only help their relationship as brothers, as well as hunting partners. I have always held the view that Sam and Dean will only ever be truly happy in their lives, if they can find a place where they can be together, but also themselves, and where neither of them is forced to sacrifice his own dreams and desires for the other – and it seems that they have finally found that place. Granted, I never imagined it as an actual place, but, hey, whatever works. Of course, there will still be disagreements and fights between the brothers, that is just part and parcel of every relationship, but, unlike their conflict in the first half of the season, those conflicts should no longer be about who Sam and Dean are as persons, and I find that immensely relieving.

    What else is noteworthy?

    (1) I quite like Aaron. He is funny, endearing and very easy to relate to, and the bickering between Aaron and his Golem is quite amusing to watch. They can come back any time! As is often the case, the writers draw obvious parallels between Aaron’s story and Sam and Dean’s story throughout the episode. I mean, just like the brothers, Aaron is unexpectedly confronted with his grandfather’s legacy and saddled with the responsibilities that come with being the last descendant of the last member of a secret society that conspired to rid the world of evil. Unlike Sam and Dean, however, Aaron struggles to embrace his new role and feels entirely overwhelmed with the expectations put upon him, mainly because he was raised in complete ignorance of his own family history. In an attempt to protect their son, Aaron’s parents taught him to dismiss his grandfather’s stories as the ramblings of a traumatised war victim, and thus unknowingly robbed him of an important part of his identity. As a result, Aaron is left with an immense power – the Golem is Aaron’s equivalent to the Winchesters’ Batcave – but with no knowledge of how to handle it. However, when faced with the option to return to his normal life, he makes a conscious choice to take charge of the Golem and continue the family business, just like Sam and Dean, and that makes him a hero in my book.

    (2) The Golem is probably one of the most sympathetic and original 'monsters' ever created by the show. He is certainly a far cry from the usual non-sentient, mute creature from the Jewish legends. The Golem is not only outspoken, but also has a great capacity for empathy and remorse. He also makes the choice to stay with Aaron, even though 'the boy' has not taken possession of him, and that tells me that he is loyal to his former rabbi as well. It is also worth noting that the Golem is a man-made monster, created with the express goal to protect humans, and that suggests to me that the Judah Initiative and their associates, like the Men of Letters, had a more 'progressive' view on monsters than most present-day hunters. Overall, the Golem neatly fits into the row of this season’s non-evil monsters, like the vampire Benny, the werewolf Kate or the fairy Gilda, and I wonder if the writers are going somewhere with this trend to depict monsters as sympathetic. By the way, I am curious if the make-up and/or costumes department did something to artificially 'beef up' John DeSantis – his upper torso, arms and hands look enormous. I do not remember the actor being quite so massive back in Ghostfacers.

    (3) Of course, even a fantastic episode like Everybody Hates Hitler has flaws. The sequence in the library, for example, where Sam, Dean, Aaron and the Golem retrieve the ledger Aaron’s grandfather hid in the science section, seems somewhat off to me. I mean, why would Sam insist on fetching the ledger on his own, while Dean and the others wait in the lobby? It is a rather reckless decision, given that they have every reason to assume that the members of the Thule society are in the area. I am also rather baffled that Dean just stands back after Torvald’s attack on Sam and Aaron, instead of helping the Golem to track down the necromancer or at least checking the immediate perimeter for further threats. It seems rather atypical for Dean to just hover at Sam’s side instead of taking action. Although the h/c addict in me was delighted about that, obviously. Also, why does Sam recover from the necromancer’s poison within minutes, even though he was exposed to it longer than Aaron, who apparently needed hours to come to again? And the Golem’s statement that Sam and Dean healed Aaron makes little sense, given that the symptoms disappeared on their own once the necromancer was dead. But well, these are really minor complaints that have no impact whatsoever on my enjoyment of the episode as a whole.

    In conclusion: Everybody Hates Hitler is a marvellous episode on all accounts – writing, acting and direction. It not only marks an important turn in Sam and Dean’s story, but may also alter the distribution of power in the Supernatural universe altogether. These last two episodes the writers have built towards something new, something that could and should change the tone and direction of the season, if not the ones to come, at least to some extent, and I can only welcome that. The Men of Letters’ storyline offers the writers a wealth of opportunities to expand the mythology of the show in interesting directions, and I am actually excited to see where they take it from here. Okay, so I am aware that there is good chance that all this will actually go nowhere in the end – it would not be the first time that the writers set something up and never follow through on the potential – but for the moment I just bask in the joy of it all.
    Last edited by galathea; 12-02-13, 05:04 PM.