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8x16 "Remember the Titans" Discussion Thread

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  • 8x16 "Remember the Titans" Discussion Thread

    Remember the Titans by Daniel Loflin is an episode which explores the shows take on classic Greek Mythology while allowing the viewer insight into the mindset of Sam and Dean as they deal with the consequences of Sam’s decision to take on the trials required to close the gates to hell. Overall I have to say I found this episode rather lacklustre as the Greek Mythology was handled in a mostly uninteresting manner in spite of this however the insights we got into the mind-set of the brothers have left me with more hope than I had last week for the future direction of the show.

    Sam: “Trust me on this it was worth it. You pretty much saved the whole world.”
    Prometheus: “Yeah I guess… But none of that, none of that means anything unless I can save my son.”

    In regards to the relationship between Sam and Dean this week’s episode started off exactly where you would expect with Sam continuing to hide the negative effects of the trials from Dean, while the older Winchester knows there is something wrong with his brother even if he doesn’t quite know what that something is. The conversation between Prometheus and Sam at the grave was a rather interesting one and I think the exchange quoted above struck a real chord in Sam. While it may not be Dean’s life that is in danger I imagine it would have made Sam consider, was closing the gates to hell really worth it if it potentially left the relationship between him and Dean in tatters due to Sam keeping things from him? Or worse was it really worth risking leaving Dean alone in the world without him when they would have more of a chance of completing the trials and staying alive by working together?

    Thankfully the answer to those questions appears to be no as shown by Sam’s heartfelt confession in the Impala towards the end of the episode “You know… I’m starting to think maybe I was being naïve. When I said I could will myself into coming out of these trials unscathed” The refreshing honesty Sam offered Dean in this scene and the older Winchesters reassuring rather than condemning response has left me with a real sense of hope. With a hope that the show can finally move the brothers out of the rut they've been in for seasons now and that we can see the two working together with the aid of allies such as Castiel and Kevin to achieve their current mission rather than constantly fighting against one another.

    Dean: "So for all that we've been through... I'm asking you... You keep a look out for my little brother OK?"

    While the majority of the episode was rather lacklustre the final prayer scene was written at a whole different level and it’s easily one of my favourite scenes of the season to date if not my absolute favourite. To hear Dean pray to Castiel with such openness and honesty was a truly delightful experience and I really feel as though Dean’s love for Sam shined throughout the entire scene. I particularly loved that even when he states that he knows Sam is hurting and keeping it from him Dean’s response is not one of anger towards his little brother, but rather his concern for Sam’s health is his number one priority and all he wants is for his little brother to be kept safe.

    Furthermore being the fan of Dean and Castiel that I am I was unsurprisingly delighted with the insights this scene offered about the relationship between Castiel and Dean. For one thing this scene makes it clear if it wasn’t before that Dean has learnt to trust Castiel once more in spite of the mistakes the angel has made in the past, if he didn’t then he would never have prayed for him to help take care of Sam the most important thing in his life. Furthermore we are shown in a simple but poignant manner that Dean has truly missed Castiel in recent weeks namely through Dean turning to look at an empty chair facing his bed and uttering “Where the hell are you man?” For me the chair was placed into the scene to make it quite obvious that in spite of Dean’s complaints in the past about Castiel watching him sleep, if having to deal with such a thing is what it takes for him to get his friend back in his life well then that’s something Dean is prepared to allow.

    It is even more remarkable when you take into account the fact that it was only last season that Dean was still hurt and angry with Castiel for his betrayal at the end of season six in particular breaking Sam’s wall to keep the brothers out of the way. For me the difference between then and now is that Dean can see that Castiel has started taking active steps to try and atone for the mistakes of the past, something which in my opinion makes a huge difference for Dean. After all that he has been through over the years Dean is more than aware of the fact that people make mistakes that they later regret for instance Dean himself tortured souls in hell, Sam decision to work with a demon and develop his psychic powers led to the apocalypse so it’s hardly impossible for Dean to forgive Castiel his mistakes also. Indeed for me most of the anger Dean displayed during episodes like Reading is Fundamental and Survival of the Fittest was rooted in his frustration with Castiel’s mental break, the angel escaping into his own mind rather than continuing to fight for what was right most strongly shown through his statement “Nobody cares if you’re broken, Cas. Clean up your mess.”

    That for me would explain why we see the angel slowly but surely beginning to regain Dean’s trust throughout the course of season eight we know that he searched Purgatory for Castiel probably appeased by the angel taking the fight step to redemption by helping them in the fight against Dick Roman. Then there was Castiel’s decision to stay in purgatory for all of eternity to help take out the monsters he’d once unleashed into the world so they could never harm anyone again, a decision I’m sure Dean would have appreciated the sentiment behind hence his guilt at leaving Castiel behind and Dean being Dean puts more of the blame on himself than he actually deserves. Then of course there are Castiel’s continued attempts to help the brothers when they need it and even doing acts of good when he’s not with them… All of these things for me are what have contributed to the older Winchester forgiving his angel friend for the mistakes of the past.

    Some final Notes
    I was rather pleased with the reference to Kevin translating the angel tablet given, having the brothers wait on such a development makes it easier to accept the brothers putting the mytharc stuff into the background when the show runners decide to explore things through MotWs for a period of time. The following exchange between Sam and Dean had to be the funniest part of the episode Sam: “What do we know that has Jason Bourne fighting skills, dies a lot and has a history with violent women.” Dean: “I dunno… You?” the look on Sam’s face is priceless. On the other hand I found the character Hayley rather silly at times, she can accept that her son dies every day but she has difficulty with it being given the label curse? And finally I loved how proud of himself and Sam Dean seemed when he was explaining about the Man of Letters and the fact that he and Sam are legacies.

    Avatar made by Shameless666 of Livejournal

  • #2
    It was an okay episode.

    I didn't think it was particularity good or anything.

    They've dealt with Pagan Gods on this show before but for some reason I just couldn't really get into this episode.


    • #3
      It seems that, after the slight misstep that was Man’s Best Friend with Benefits, the show is back on track. Daniel Loflin’s Remember The Titans may be a pretty standard monster-of-the-week episode, but overall I still enjoyed it a lot, mainly because Sam and Dean’s interaction is delightful throughout and there are some great emotional character beats for them. I also really liked the majority of the one-off characters, so their story managed to keep my interest just fine on their own, and the somewhat light-hearted touch did not hurt the episode either. So, while Remember The Titans is not an outstanding episode by any means, it is nonetheless a very solid offering for the current season.

      * * *

      I am starting to wonder if the Supernatural writing team is a little short-staffed this season. I mean, why else would they keep splitting up an established writing duo like Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin? And why else would they continue to employ Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, who frequently deliver sub-standard scripts for the show? Well, that is, if we assume that duo is not only on the staff because Eugenie Ross-Leming is Robert Singer’s wife. I also find it rather surprising that Jeremy Carver has only written one episode in the entire season so far. Eric Kripke and Sera Gamble used to turn in at least three or four scripts each season – the big emotional and/or turning point episodes were usually reserved for the acting showrunner – so it is conspicuous that Carver seems less inclined to apply himself as a writer for the show. To be perfectly frank, it suggests a troubling lack of investment/involvement on Carver’s part where the writing process is concerned. Since Carver apparently still writes for Being Human (US) as well and is probably still heavily involved in the show’s production process – co-creator Anna Fricke is his wife, after all – I cannot help but wonder if he is stretching himself too thin. If that is the case, I just wished he would consider hiring new writers instead of giving Dabb and Loflin a disproportionately high number of episodes to write this year. I like them well enough, but they are no Ben Edlund or Robbie Thompson, and I think it would really benefit the show to have a more varied staff of writers, especially if it is going to run for another two seasons.

      Sam: "You know, I’m starting to think that maybe I was being naïve."
      Dean: "What are you talking about?"
      Sam: "When I said that I could just will myself into coming out of these trials unscathed."

      I admit, I am very relieved that the writers seem intent on disproving my fears that they will use the storyline about the trials to create yet another contrived conflict between the brothers. In Trial and Error, Sam’s secrecy regarding the ugly side-effects of the trials gave cause to the concern that the brothers would once again fall back into their sadly familiar, destructive pattern of lies and trust issues threatening the hard-earned reconciliation between them, but instead Remember The Titans heads into a different direction entirely. The episode may start out with Sam trying to keep up the pretence of being okay, but it ends with Sam hesitantly opening up to his brother about his fears and doubts without being coerced into it, and that gives me hope that, for once, the brothers will meet a personal crisis head-on and without keeping things from each other. Granted, Sam only addresses his general concerns about his chances of survival rather than going into the specifics of his condition, but I still think it speaks of Sam’s willingness to work with Dean on this rather than shutting his brother out and deal with it on his own. Moreover, Sam’s honesty demonstrates that he is not afraid that Dean will see him as weak or incompetent just because he admits to his own fears, and given that, just last episode, Sam was apprehensive of Dean’s lack of trust in his ability to pull the trials off, his openness here is a show of faith. Hopefully, Sam will continue to be honest with Dean, thus further building the trust between the brothers and enabling them to focus on external threats rather than fight each other.

      As for Dean, he obviously sees right through Sam’s efforts to hide his dwindling health from him, and I love that he calls him out on being cagey, but does not press the issue. I also love the fact that, instead of reacting with anger and/or resentment to Sam’s hesitant confession that he might not be alright after all – or worse, with another attempt to convince Sam that Dean should be the one to take the trials instead – Dean simply reassures Sam and reminds him of his promise to survive the trials. Now, Sam may not expressly tell Dean about the fact that he coughs up blood on a regular basis, but I am pretty sure that Dean makes the connection to Sam’s earlier cagey behaviour anyway, and that makes his relatively calm reaction even more remarkable. It builds a nice contrast to Meet the New Boss, where Dean angrily confronted Sam about hiding his hallucinations from him; he interpreted his brother’s protective 'white lie' as a lack of trust and hence took offence. At present, however, Dean respects Sam’s need for privacy and does exactly what he promised his brother in Trial and Error, namely support him one hundred percent, and that suggests to me that the brothers may finally learn to make mutual concessions. I mean, they both have been guilty of lying in the name of protection, and they both know that it rarely happens with malevolent intent, so maybe it is time to give each other a little leeway in the matter. Overall, both brothers handle the delicate situation between them with the kind of maturity that was sorely lacking from their interaction in the first half of the season, and I really appreciate that.

      All in all, I am very curious to see where the storyline about the damaging effects the trials have on Sam’s health will lead us. I would be thrilled if the writers would take the opportunity to move the brothers past the never-ending cycle of (protective) lies and their resulting trust issues, just like they did with the 'hunting versus a normal life' conflict. Apart from the potential this storyline has to offer in terms of solid development for Sam and Dean’s relationship, I enjoy it on a textual level as well, as it presents a row of interesting mythology questions. For example, why would God create the trials with built-in side-effects that will slowly kill the test subject? Not that I am under the impression that Supernatural’s God is a merciful one, but why create the trials in the first place, if they will most likely incapacitate or kill the person undertaking said trials before they can even finish them? Is it possible that the side-effects are not actually lethal but just yet another aspect designed to test the candidate’s resilience and determination? I also would not rule out the possibility that Kevin’s translation is simply faulty. I mean, Kevin only has half the demon tablet at his disposal, so maybe his information about the trials has been incomplete and hence resulted in some unwanted side-effects. Last but not least, maybe it is something about Sam himself that triggers those damaging effects on his health. After all, Sam does have demon blood in him, so maybe the hell-trials somehow affect that part of Sam’s physical make up. I guess only time will tell, but I really hope we will get more insight into the exact nature of those trials.

      Dean: "Listen, you know I’m not one for praying, ‘cause in my book it’s the same as begging, but this is about Sam, so I need you to hear me. We are going into this deal blind. And I don’t know what’s ahead. Or what it’s gonna bring for Sam. Now he is covering pretty good, but I know that he is hurting. And this one was supposed to be on me. So, for all that we’ve been through, I’m asking you – you keep a look-out for my little brother, okay?"

      Dean’s prayer to Castiel at the end of the episode, where he asks the angel to watch over his brother, is a very poignant and touching character moment, and as usual Jensen sells Dean’s distress perfectly. Now, over the course of the show, we have only seen Dean pray twice, namely in My Bloody Valentine, where he turned to God for help after their encounter with Famine left Sam in the throes of demon blood withdrawal and Dean at his wits end, and in The Monster At The End Of This Book, where he prayed to Castiel on behalf of his brother as well, when Sam was intent on confronting Lilith despite Chuck’s warning that it would end badly. In both situations Sam’s life was on the line and Dean felt helpless in the face of the magnitude of their undertaking. Basically, he was robbed of his ability to act, and since he has always been unable to accept that, he turned to prayer as a last-ditch effort to do something. After all, prayer is the last hope of a desperate man, as Dean so rightly pointed out to Sam in Dark Side of the Moon. So, the fact that Dean once again resorts to praying as a means of action tells us just how powerless he feels at the moment; the confidence he displayed in his earlier conversation with Sam was clearly nothing but a front to reassure his brother. I find it particularly interesting that Dean emphasises that this, i.e. taking the trials and closing the gates of hell, was supposed to be on him. That feeling clearly harks back to Swan Song, where Dean had to helplessly watch his brother sacrifice himself for the greater good, and it is hardly surprising that he finds it difficult to accept a repeat performance on Sam’s part.

      That being said, I find it rather difficult to believe that Dean would pray to Castiel of all people, and for once that disbelief has little to do with the fact that, due to the lack of an active reconciliation process between the characters, Dean and Castiel’s current relationship has lost all credibility for me. No, my problem is that Dean has been increasingly suspicious of Castiel these last couple of weeks. In A Little Slice Of Kevin Dean expressed his uneasiness with Castiel’s unexplained return from purgatory, and in Torn and Frayed the angel’s odd behaviour reinforced Dean’s suspicion that something is off about him. The brothers even took precautions against Castiel listening in on them because they suspected that someone might be messing with the angel, and I think it is implausible that Dean would call on Castiel for Sam’s protection when he believes him to be compromised, especially considering their problematic history with the angel. After all, the last time Castiel was compromised, he almost killed Sam. So, I guess I will have to attribute Dean’s appeal for help to his distraught frame of mind; he is just not thinking clearly. I cannot help but wonder, though, if Dean inadvertently hurt their cause by praying to Castiel. I mean, we know that Castiel is controlled by Naomi, and I would not be surprised if she would somehow exploit Dean’s heartfelt plea to her advantage, possibly using Castiel against the brothers in the process. Overall, I just hope that, this time, the writers will refrain from using Castiel as a convenient 'deus ex machina' to end Sam’s suffering. I really want the brothers to find their own way out of Sam’s predicament.

      What else is noteworthy:

      (1) If I have one major complaint about the episode, it’s that Sam and Dean bring three total strangers to the Batcave for no compelling reason at all. I mean, in As Time Goes By the brothers experienced first-hand that supernatural creatures would go to any length in order to lay their hands on the power contained in the Men of Letters’ repository, so I find it rather odd that they would not only invite two humans but also a Titan to the place. I just really think Sam and Dean should be more careful about revealing the Batcave’s existence to people. Of course, it will be inevitable for the brothers to eventually let some of their allies in on their secret – for example, I think it would make perfect sense for Sam and Dean to move Kevin into the Batcave; after all, he is not only on Crowley’s 'Most Wanted' list, but also essential to their mission – but I daresay that, for the moment, it is a bad idea to make their new home base public knowledge.

      (2) I am not the most knowledgeable person where Greek mythology is concerned, so I am sure I missed some of the finer points of the story, but I really liked Prometheus’ character and enjoyed the parallels between him and the brothers. Now, generally, Prometheus represents knowledge – he not only stole the fire from the gods, but also gave human beings reason and acted as humankind's teacher – and I love how that ties in with Sam and Dean’s discovery of the Batcave (knowledge) and their heritage as Men of Letters (teachers of knowledge). I like that, once the brothers are aware of Prometheus’ identity, they instantly relate to him and feel grateful for his intervention on humankind’s behalf. I find Dean’s statement that pre-fire earth sounds like a monster paradise particularly noteworthy; it suggests to me that it reminds him of purgatory, and obviously that would give him a unique perspective where Prometheus’ achievements are concerned. Prometheus’ curse presents another interesting parallel to Sam and Dean. Just like Prometheus, the brothers have been condemned to suffer through a never-ending cycle of death and resurrection, and just like for Prometheus, said cycle resulted in lasting physical and mental consequences for them. Prometheus’ curse has also forced him into social isolation, not only for fear of prosecution, but also because he might put the people close to him in danger, and the same is true for Sam and Dean. Last but not least, I love how Prometheus’ realisation that saving the world means nothing, if he cannot save his family, resonates with the Winchesters’ past and present story as well.

      (3) The episode has a somewhat light-hearted touch, but it never devolves into the kind of juvenile humour the writers are sometimes so fond of, and I really appreciate that. There are several moments that stand out to me, like, for example, Sam and Dean’s bizarre encounter with the zombie-obsessed sheriff, who tries to lecture the brothers on the undead, or Dean’s indignant reaction when Haley points out to him that fulgurite is quite the common mineral. Nice self-mocking reference to Meet The New Boss, writers! Dean’s deadpan answer to Sam’s question what they know of that has Jason Bourne fighting skills, dies a lot and has a history with violent women, made me laugh out loud. Moreover, the fact that Dean instantly thinks of Sam ties in well with his current worry about his brother’s well-being, and I love that. Also, Dean’s facial expressions and exasperated interjections when Sam tries to turn Artemis against Zeus are just hilarious.

      In conclusion: Remember The Titans may not be a stellar episode, but it features an interesting case file – well, to me, at any rate – and uses the momentum of the trials storyline to drive the brothers’ emotional arcs forward, and that is more than enough to make the episode worthwhile for me. I really have to say that the intense focus on the brothers these last six episodes has been immensely satisfying, not least because those episodes feel like a coherent unit, and that once again highlights that the less cohesive feel of the first half of the season was a direct result of the fact that the writers neglected to make the brothers the focal point of the story. I just hope the rest of the season will continue in this fashion. S8 may never be my favourite season, but this latest stretch of episodes at least managed to pull me back into the story.