Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, our panel of experts – including moderator Kylie, Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – gathered together to Look Back at and to reminisce about Seasons Four and Five of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This is the second part of a five part CPU! podcast series examining two of our favorite television programs, Buffy and Angel, aka “The Buffy-Verse.” If you have not watched any of Buffy or Angel (and I mean, any!), be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS.  Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Stay tuned for Episode 3 of our Buffy-Verse series, in which we cover Seasons 1-2 of Angel!

PODCAST! – Cult TV! and Best Of! and Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS) + Best Written TV (#49)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a cult supernatural, fantasy, action, and horror drama that aired on the Warner Bros. network, or “The WB,” from 1997 to 2001 and on the United Paramount Network, or “UPN,” from 2001-2003.

What: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as “Vampire Slayers” or simply “Slayers,” called or chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness.

SYNOPSIS

Buffy’s mystical calling endows her with powers that dramatically enhance physical strength, endurance, agility, healing, intuition, and that provide a limited degree of clairvoyance, usually in the form of prophetic dreams. She is known as a reluctant hero who wants to live a normal life; however, she learns to embrace her destiny as the vampire Slayer.  Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), a member of the Watchers’ Council, whose job is to train and guide the Slayers. Giles researches the supernatural creatures that Buffy must face, offers insights into their origins and advice on how to defeat them, and helps her stay in fighting form. Buffy is also helped by friends she meets at Sunnydale High School: Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon).

The cast of characters grows over the course of the series. A vampire with a soul, Angel (David Boreanaz), is Buffy’s love interest throughout the first three seasons. At Sunnydale High, Buffy meets several other students besides Willow and Xander willing to join her fight for good, an informal group eventually tagged the “Scooby Gang” or “Scoobies.” Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), the archetypal shallow cheerleader, reluctantly becomes involved. Daniel “Oz” Osbourne (Seth Green) – a fellow student, rock guitarist and werewolf – joins the group through his relationship with Willow. Anya (Emma Caulfield), a former vengeance demon (Anyanka) who specialized in avenging scorned women, becomes Xander’s lover after losing her powers and joins the group in season four. Spike (James Marsters), a vampire, is an old companion of Angelus (Angel) and one of Buffy’s major enemies in early seasons, although they later become allies and lovers.  In fact, Buffy features dozens of recurring characters, both major and minor, and additional regular characters introduced in later seasons.

When: The show aired on the WB from 1997-2001 and on UPN from 2001-2003.

Where: The show is set primarily in fictional Sunnydale, California, home of one of the series’ fictional entrances to hell, otherwise known as “The Hellmouth.”

Why: Listen to the first episode of this podcast series for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  They are all personal and occasionally touching.

How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the premiere of one of your Chief CP’s all-time favorite television shows, and since I know a few people in my life who love Buffy as much or (possibly) more than I do, I decided to invite some true Buffy-Verse scholars, in what has, again, become something of a family event, to participate in a five-part podcast series, during which we will take a critical look back at another couple of cult TV shows that fuel our respective imaginations and tug at our TV-loving hearts. In this five-part series, our panel – featuring CPU! regulars and semi-regulars Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – look back at Buffy and its spin-off Angel, reminiscing about two shows that have withstood the test of time as personal favorites for several of us and as two of the most nationally and internationally acclaimed television series of all time.

We have already recorded one episode in this series, Looking Back at Buffy Seasons One, Two, and Three.  You can listen to that episode here or via our audio channels on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play:

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode One, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 1-3

In this second episode of CPU!’s “Buffy-Verse” series, our panel discusses Seasons Four and Five of Buffy, covering the series’ middle years and the arguable apex of its popularity. We discuss our favorite and least favorite episodes within each season and our general impressions of the success of these two seasons, which aired on Tuesday nights on the WB network.

In addition, with this series, CPU! is introducing yet another brand new feature, which sort of combines some old features into one handily titled, efficiently truncated format. You may have noticed that we tend to favor some “best of” lists around here.  Well, in this new feature, called “Best Of!,” we are going to handily provide, right here, right now for Buffy but otherwise within the content entry for each podcast episode, the list of all of the “best of” acclaims a show receives.  In addition, we will be compiling those lists on separate bonus pages of our website (accessible by the menu at the top left of the header).  We’re not ready for the pages, as in they are under construction, but when it comes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s list of various acclaims accrued over the years, you’ll come to understand why this feature was introduced.

To wit, herein be the list of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Best Of!

  • #41 on TV Guide’s list of 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
  • #2 on Empires “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2008 and #22 in 2016
  • #27 on The Hollywood Reporters “Hollywood’s 100 Favorite TV Shows”
  • Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time
  • #38 on TV Guide’s list of the “60 Best Series of All Time”
  • #38 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

In addition, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most celebrated cult TV shows and TV fandoms, as the show ranks at #2 on Entertainment Weekly’s 2009 and 2014 Top Cult TV lists and at #3 on TV Guide’s Top Cult TV list.  Plus, Buffy ranked #49 on TV Guide’s Best Written TV list in 2013, as it is also considered one of the best written (scripted) television series of all time.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we’re back around the water cooler when our Marvel Agents of SHIELD panel, slightly larger and slightly more robust than before, reconvenes to dissect the jam-packed second half of Season 4.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – if you somehow haven’t already watched it – is recommended to anyone who loves nerdy, cult science fiction and fantasy (and/or horror) series in the vein of Star Trek, The X-Files, and similar ilk and to any fan of Joss Whedon who hasn’t somehow discovered his first major and most critically and most popularly recognized work of screen fiction (beyond the vastly different film, for which he provided creative input and an early script later overruled by its producers).  As we discuss in this podcast series, this series broke ground for so many other series to come, including other popular shows for which writers and creators learned their trade working on this series originally, including shows like Once Upon a Time and even issue-based comedies, like the uneven but musical Glee. This show has a bit of everything, and, if you love solid, quality television – excellent television, in fact – and you have somehow missed this series, you should make time for Buffy. You will not be disappointed in the overall journey and entertainment value that this well written, well performed series provides.

The entire Buffy series is available to stream at only Hulu, currently. Watch it: you won’t regret it!

Sherlock Series, Episode Two – Series 3 & 4 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in July 2017, our panel of enthusiastically Sherlocked Sherlockians — including moderator Kylie, Kristen L, Nick, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Kristin T — gathered around the water cooler once again to continue gushing, though in a slightly more tempered way, about the third and fourth series, and the intervening Christmas special, of the BBC-produced, internationally acclaimed, modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation, simply entitled Sherlock.  This is the second part of a CPU! podcast miniseries examining the thirteen available episodes of this widely popular and sparsely (but densely) produced drama.  If you have not watched any of Sherlock, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS.  Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Sherlock” Series 3 and 4 Recap (Sherlock Series, Episode Two; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Sherlock” is a crime drama series based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories that airs on the BBC in the United Kingdom and on PBS in the USA; it is currently on hiatus (should the producers decide to make more episodes, an ongoing mystery for this unique fandom).

What: “Sherlock” was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. The series is set in the present day, while a one-off special features a Victorian period fantasy resembling the original Holmes stories.

SYNOPSIS

Sherlock depicts “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch) solving various mysteries in modern-day London. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate and friend, Dr. John Watson (Freeman), who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Although Metropolitan Police Service Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and others are at first suspicious of Holmes, over time his exceptional intellect and bold powers of observation persuade them of his value. In part through Watson’s blog documenting their adventures, Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity with the press reporting on his cases and eccentric personal life. Both ordinary people and the British government ask for his help.

Although the series depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, Holmes’ conflict with nemesis Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is a recurring feature. Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), a pathologist at St. Bart’s Hospital, occasionally assists Holmes in his cases. Other recurring roles include Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson, Holmes and Watson’s landlady, and series co-creator Mark Gatiss as Holmes’ elder brother Mycroft.

When: Series Three aired in the USA from January 19, 2014, to February 2, 2014, while Series Four aired from January 1, 2017, to January 15, 2017, on public broadcasting or PBS.  An intervening Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride,” aired on January 1, 2016 (and was simulcast in movie theaters).

Where: This show is primarily set in London, England, United Kingdom, with occasional visits to London’s surrounds.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though it bears mentioning that Sherlock may very well be the most popular and most requested panel/show to discuss since the inception of this humble little podcast and aside from (as previously published) Stranger Things.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

CPU! recorded a first episode to this two-part miniseries covering the first two series/seasons of international smash hit, Sherlock. To catch up on what you missed, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

Sherlock Series, Episode One, Seasons 1 and 2

In the episode linked below, our Sherlock panel – Kristen (L), Nick, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer and Kristin T – enthusiastically return to the water cooler to sift through the highs and (twist!) occasional lows of the modernist Sherlock Holmes adaptation’s latest two seasons, “The Abominable Bride” included.  While the panel continues to gush about this series’ third season (or series, if you’re British), some of the panelists’ moods grew darker and more perplexed by the fourth season, which introduced characters and situations both derived from Sherlock Holmes canon but also originally created for the television series. Though the panel still believes that Sherlock is television of the highest quality, from performances to writing to direction to every other facet available, they also struggled, particularly, with Season 4, Episode 4, “The Final Problem,” which, when analyzed in totality, stands a real but, yet, suspiciously questionable chance of being the final episode of this beloved program. The panelists also reiterated, unanimously, that while there are relatively weaker episodes within the thirteen total episodes produced, Sherlock’s weakest efforts are far superior to the strongest examples of other shows on television currently.  In fact, our resident Sherlockians agree that the narrative remains woven tightly, with a loving eye to adaptive detail spearheaded by recognized “Sherlock” expert Gatiss at the helm; that the visual presence from art direction to cinematography continues to be perfection; and that the performances ring as no less than stellar.  If you are part of the Sherlock fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this sparsely produced but richly produced international juggernaut, even if you have spicier thoughts about Season 4.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our Buffy-verse panel returns to the Water Cooler for their second episode of a five-part series lovingly looking back at Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, in which they “slay” Seasons 4 and 5 of Buffy.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

The biggest question facing our intrepid and enthusiastic panel of Sherlockian devotees is whether the show will return.  Chief CP Kylie feels that “The Final Problem” may have been a “psych out” or a deft but convenient nod to the hiatus of the fictional character, before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle realized that the retirement of his beloved detective was premature.  This clever call back to the literary hiatus seeds well the show’s hiatus, given that it might be longer than usual, since Benedict Cumberbatch will be Doctor Strange for some years, Martin Freeman also continues to obtain roles large and small, and Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are developing an adaptation of Dracula for the BBC. Still, other panelists are terrified that “The Final Problem” may be the last we hear of Sherlock forever, and on the note that Season 4 ended, they are not comfortable with that possibility.

Should the show return, however, the same panelists who fear that we may have watched the end are also apprehensive about how much non-canon character Eurus Holmes will figure into future episodes and whether Moriarty has any hope of miraculous resurrection – could he have tricked Sherlock the same way Sherlock tricked everyone else?  Time will only tell, and given the pattern of long hiatuses related to this show and the busy schedules of its stars and production team, we have nothing but time to speculate upon what might have been, what is, and what might be.

PARTING SHOTS

Our CPU! Sherlock panelists seem to be “shell-shocked” rather than “Sher-locked” over Sherlock following season 4, though each panelist continues to indubitably recommend watching this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, to anyone who watches and enjoys television.  The general consensus among the panelists is that this well crafted, well written, well directed, and well performed piece offers “something for everyone” and can appeal to young and old, man and woman, and everything in between, even at its weakest moments, which are still stronger than the best other television shows have to offer.  What’s more, any self-respecting Sherlock Holmes fan will no doubt marvel, as several Holmes fans on this panel have, at the excellence of this series, including the loving attention to detail hailing from the source material, though the departures from the source will no doubt produced mixed reactions, as they have done for our CPU! Sherlock faithful.  Cautions raised by the panel: any new viewer will have to learn patience to appreciate Sherlock, as new series are created as the show-runners and cast have time, which apparently will be harder to come by in the short-term future.  Also, a standard series contains only three film-length episodes generally, aside from the excellent “Abominable Bride.”  In any event, the creators certainly know how to keep their audience coming back for more, and the panel universally agrees that each return to a new series is well worth the wait (and the watch – and re-watch!).

LOOKING AHEAD

Neither the show creators nor the network (BBC) have confirmed that Sherlock is, indeed, completely and permanently over.  In fact, all involved say they would like to potentially do more but are hampered by various other commitments, as listed above. Since there is no official word on whether or not we have watched the definitive end of Sherlock, we will assume (or at least hope) that there is more to come; however, the CPU! Sherlock panel will not reconvene until that happens, which may be for some years. Should the BBC and/or Gatiss and Moffat succeed in collecting the cast and crew for another go-round, CPU! will assuredly pounce upon such potential future developments! Until that time, Sherlock is available on the Netflix streaming service to be watched repeatedly and to one’s heart’s content.  As for CPU!, don’t worry: we cover many other shows in our podcast, available for your listening pleasure to tide you over in the meantime, and most of the Sherlock panelists are involved in other panels – check out the “What We’re Currently Watching” and the “List of All CPU! Panelists” pages in the menu to the upper left to scan for current and potential episodes you might want to hear; search using the menu in the upper right corner :).

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Is it…could it be…Holmes?!  Not exactly…but it is panelist Spencer, living the dream at the actual 221B Baker Street, London, England, where he and wife/fellow panelist Kristin T. are currently enjoying vacation (August 2017).  Safe travels, friends!

Supernatural (Season 12B, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in July 2017, our panel of unabashed Super-Fans – including moderator Kylie, Nick, Jen, Kelsey, Allie, and Jeremy – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 12B (following the season finale) of Supernatural, including the brothers (and mother) Winchester, angel Castiel, demon Crowley, and the ongoing shenanigans of Lucifer. If you have not watched any of Supernatural, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Supernatural” – The Season 12 End of Season Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Supernatural” airs on network TV, specifically on the CW; this season, the show aired on Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Supernatural,” a drama depicting the tale of two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively), who are “hunters” of all supernatural ilk, be they demons, monsters, or angels on high, in a quest to save the world from things that go bump in the night, things that cause apocalypses, and things that are generally just out to get them (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/supernatural/summary.html).

When: The Season 12 finale aired on May 18, 2017, at 8:00 PM on the CW.

Where: The show is set in no specific locale; the brothers ride all over the country in a 1967 Chevrolet Impala and live out of hotel rooms via fake identities and money scams, though the Winchesters are originally from Lawrence, Kansas, and have, as late, holed up in a bunker, somewhere near their home town, formerly run by the Men of Letters, an organization of which they are legacy members.  The time is present day.

Why:  Oh so many seasons ago now, Chief CP Kylie followed Jensen Ackles–a fine, fine man–from Smallville to his new gig, which, at the time, seemed like a different spin on the X-Files, with two brothers versus two sexually tense FBI agents.  From the opening frames of the pilot, though, I knew that it was oh so much more or, at least, vastly dissimilar to the X-Files, and this show has surpassed so many expectations, including mustering the incredible ability to remain relevant and engaging long past the expiration of the initial story arc mapped out by creator Eric Kripke.  For CPU!’s ever-expanding podcast coverage of a growing number of shows, several CPU! members, all familiar voices to the CPU! loyal, jumped up to participate on this panel, even though many of them also express fatigue with the show from time to time.  How do they feel the show is faring nowadays, into its double digits’ worth of seasons?  Take a listen below.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

To catch up on our Super-coverage, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

The Season 9 Premiere 

Seasons Nine, Ten, and Eleven

Season 12A

Once again, our Super-CPU! panel – Nick, Jen, Allie, Kelsey, and Jeremy – hops into our ’67 Chevy Impala, ready to ride until we, or Supernatural, die(s), as we discuss major plot points from, and ruminate upon the success of, the second half of season twelve.  While our panel’s particular devotion and/or brotherly bond continues to be sometimes tested in Supernatural’s later seasons, particularly this season, we still have lots to think and to talk about and to gush over whilst pining for the brothers and/or Cas (well, I don’t think Nick is pining…unless there’s something we don’t know).  Give us a listen, with your salt guns and holy water on standby, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in July 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of season twelve of this long-running series. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, and/or our Stitcher Radio channel to keep track of brand new episodes. In the meantime, let us know what you think! Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! In our next episode, our Sherlock Series panel returns to the Water Cooler for the second episode in that series to discuss, to deduce in diatribes, and to dissect Series 3 and 4 of the international smash hit series. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: How many miles are on the Impala after all this time?

REPEAT ANSWER: Still unknown.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will they ever get their happy ending?

REPEAT ANSWER: While the panel is in no particular rush for a series finale, although maybe that’s less true nowadays, it’s likely the brothers will not find peace until they are done.  That’s why Kansas tells them to Carry On, Wayward Sons.  “Lay your weary head to rest; don’t you cry no more.”

3) REPEAT QUESTION: If Lucifer is out of the Cage, why can’t the archangel Michael, currently housed within long lost Winchester half brother Adam, escape from the Cage? Will we ever see Adam/Michael again?

REPEAT ANSWER: Still a question.  I, personally, have to believe that, with Lucifer out of Hell’s Cage, archangel Michael (whether inside half-Winchester Adam or not), has some time to sort through his sanity.  Here’s hoping he busts out.  There’s a disturbing lack of archangels nowadays.

4) Will Mary ever get it together long enough to accept her new lease on life and her much older, adult sons?  Her adjustment seems prolonged.  Understandable but prolonged. What will be her purpose in the end?  Will she continue hunting?  Will she join #TeamWinchester? Or, will she be the footnote of yet another – and a repeat one at that – tragedy in the boys’ lives?

ANSWER: This answer is complicated, even loaded.  First, Mary is willing to sacrifice herself to save both sons when the boys make a deal with Billie the Reaper to break them out of federal prison, as they were falsely accused of attacking the President of the United States who had been otherwise possessed by Lucifer, in exchange for one of the boys’ permanent deaths. Then, Mary continues hunting, despite the fact that she seems to rue it, because it’s kind of one of the only things she knows and remembers comfortably from her former life.  Then, she secretly allies herself with the British Men of Letters for a time because their resources and drive are appealing to her, and she believes that they are capable of eliminating all monster threats, so that, as she explains to Sam, she can have the life she has always wanted with her sons. This arrangement naturally goes south, particularly when Lady Toni Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore) returns for the sole purpose of “conditioning” Mary to act as a black operative for the Brits and as a mole, brainwashed to kill American hunters, who the Brits have deemed ineffectual. Dean achieves breaking through this conditioning with Lady Bevell’s help (and a switch in loyalties), and with one of his more impassioned monologues recapping everything that the brothers have been through in these twelve seasons, but Mary is only lucid long enough to help deliver Lucifer’s bastard Nephilim baby before an alternate parallel universe swallows her, with the Devil’s helpful hand pulling her into this wasted alterna-world with him.  The producers and the cast have confirmed that Mary is still alive, and so, it’s not a typical Supernatural tragedy, but Mary’s purpose and presence on the show has become one big, convoluted question mark. Listen to the podcast episode for additional details and speculations.

5) Seriously, why should we care about the British Men of Letters at all?  Why are they interfering?  Why does their approach with sussing out the boys’ methods suck?  Why can’t we abandon this piece of the story? Much of our panel feels that it’s not working, though some are still vaguely intrigued.

ANSWER: As it turns out, the Brits are essentially the “Big Bad” of the season.  Sure, Lucifer is around and is after his child (more on that in a minute), but the Brits prove to be a formidable threat to American hunters nationwide, simply because they believe our uppity colonial butts cannot achieve results without efficiency and moral ambiguity.  The Brits’ approach is par: kill all monsters, regardless of the shades of gray that the Winchesters have encountered over the years that have led them to become creative and merciful hunters.  They generally find Sam and Dean to be reckless and ineffectual, the worst of the American hunter lot, really.  So, this story line plays through until the end of the season, whether we want it to or not, though the Brits on this side of the pond do meet a grisly end.  The podcast panelists express mixed reactions in response to the British Men of Letters segment on “This is our Supernatural life.”  Listen to the episode for details. 

6) Will Toni return?  For what reason?  Or, did the Brits put her in “time out?”

ANSWER: Toni returns.  Apparently, she’s one of the Brits’ golden children, despite her strong opinions and querulous methods.  She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and to experiment with sadistic measures of torture and corruption.  Her latest exploit: brainwashing mother Mary into becoming the Brits’ assassin of American hunters, while Mary is helpless to fight against it and unaware of her own actions. Toni’s allegiance to the LetterMen only lasts for so long, though.  Her apparent rivalry/sexual tension with Man of Letter Arthur Ketch results in his rash decision to trap her with the brothers in the bunker, without working air handlers or power, as part of the ongoing effort to eliminate American hunters (and as part of Ketch’s own ongoing beef with the boys). With her life in danger, and in lieu of a tenuous agreement with Dean to help reverse mother Mary’s conditioning in exchange for her freedom, Lady Bevell reverses her dirty deeds, only to meet her own grisly end at the hands of Ketch at the last.

7) Where did Lucifer go?  Some of the panel thought that his angel essence was entrapped by the Men of Letters golden snitch, while some saw it go through a floor vent. Kylie predicts that Lucifer will most likely return to fetch his spawn.  What will his spawn be? Will his spawn be the “anti-Christ?”  Will his spawn be born?  Will his spawn bring about the end of times…again?

ANSWER: Kylie won the round this time (it has to happen some time, people!). Lucifer, as it turns out, is drawn back to hell by Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard) and returned to his favorite vessel and ours, namely the one played by Mark Pellegrino. Indeed, Mark P. returns with his best devilish scene chewing in tow, aiming to break free of his Crowley induced chains to seek out his spawn, a Nephilim, a half-human/half-angel with potential unspeakable power and questionable moral compass, given who his daddy is.  The spawn in question comes to term…his name is Jack, in fact; he has yellow eyes, is far larger and older than your standard baby, and he is the subject of many questions asked by the podcast panelists. Though we have seen one “anti-Christ” in a previous season, Jack may be the anti-Christ to beat all anti-Christs, initiating a much scarier apocalypse than we have yet seen.  We don’t yet know for sure because Luci is trapped in the alternate universe with Mary, and the yellow eyes mean this kid could be much more than we ever bargained for, in the end, if the show’s meditation on “princes of hell” is any indication.

8) Will Sam, Lucifer’s predestined vessel, be forced to house Lucifer again, who burns through other human hosts quickly and destructively?  There seems to be some hint at that possibility, though Sam has avoided it successfully so far.

ANSWER: Owing to a clever (?) side mention by the writers, as a result of Crowley’s magic, which revived the Mark P. vessel for Lucifer but also warded his insides so that the angelic essence of Lucifer is trapped in the self-same vessel, Luci tells the brothers that Sam is no longer needed to house Lucifer.  The Mark P. vessel, in other words, is built to last by King of Hell magic.  Crowley just makes things worse sometimes, doesn’t he? (For the boys, anyway…Mark P.’s return was most welcome to this set of Super fans.)

9) To that end, the “American Nightmare” episode hearkened back to and reminded the viewer that Sam was once one of demon Azazel’s children, with psychic abilities.  In that episode, Sam encountered a strict religious family who demonized their daughter Magda for having psychic ability.  In that episode, Sam told Magda that he once had similar abilities.  When she asked if he still did, Sam answered that he “thought” they were gone. Will we be seeing a return of Sam’s psychic abilities?  He’s always been highly intuitive; if they do return, what will be the context?  What will be the purpose?  What will he do with them?  Will he be good or evil? The panel kind of wants to see this happen.

ANSWER: Still a question or questions without answer(s).  While Sam’s potentially dormant demonic abilities remain just that – dormant – the show, the producers, and the cast have referred to them both in script and in press often enough that we think this possibility is even more possible at this stage.  Plus, the show takes the time to explore the concept of the “Princes of Hell” this half season, of which the brothers learn that Azazel was one: Lucifer’s most entrusted demons, all of yellow eyes; his first demonic creations; his most loyal servants; and his most powerful allies.  It should be noted that Jack the Nephilim also has yellow eyes.  Moderator Kylie suspects that the yellow eyed princes of hell, the angels, Jack, and Sam are all going to be connected in expected or unexpected ways in the near future.

10) The John Winchester question remains a question: will we see him this season?  And played by whom?  And will he be alive or dead?

ANSWER: In the ultimate tease, and with much social media delight owing to Jensen’s Twitter exchange with JDM himself, Negan’s bat from The Walking Dead makes a cameo, after apparently hanging out in Baby’s trunk all this time and once being allegedly owned by John, but John himself does not show up in season 12, likely due to the fact that Jeffery Dean Morgan survives on TWD.  I think the writers know how much his return is strongly desired, particularly given Mary’s return, though some of our panelists are against this idea on principle, feeling that John had a definite and poetic end that would be undermined by a resurrection, a common plot device used on Supernatural.  To this panelist and moderator, though, I am a proponent of such a return…though it would likely be saved for a final season. Still, we’ll keep asking the question.

11) The Billie the Reaper question remains a question: is she aiming to be New Death? What is her true intention?  Or, is she a dutiful bureaucrat, operating status quo in the absence of her boss? Will she be successful in reaping Mary’s newly returned soul?  The brothers’?

ANSWERS: These questions are for naught now.  Billie makes a return long enough to seek the boys’ permanent deaths, making the deal with the Winchesters that allows them to bust out of federal prison by killing them long enough for the authorities to accept their deaths, only to revive them in time for escaping, in exchange for one of the brother’s permanent deaths at the stroke of midnight. Castiel (Misha Collins) makes his presence known by getting the drop on Billie.  He stabs her in the back with his angel blade just as Mary offers herself in sacrifice to save her sons, after Billie notes that breaking a deal with a reaper can have “cosmic consequences.”  Billie’s ambitions, thus, have been cut short and are no longer enigmas worth our puzzling, while Cas courts cosmic consequences in the worst possible way. See below.

12) The angel question remains a question – Heaven seems disturbingly quiet…

ANSWERS: The angels are motivated to action with the impending birth of Jack the Nephilim.  In fact, we meet Cas’ former squad, headed by human-hater (and secret human lover) Isham, leader of a heavenly task force assigned to eliminate nephilim the world over. We also meet Joshua, who concocts a plan with Cas to force baby-mama Kelly to cross through Heaven’s Gate in the Sandbox, exposing her unborn child to heaven’s (apparently fatal) light.  Angel casualties are high this season, let’s just say.

13) Where did Rowena and Crowley go?  Is Crowley back on his basement throne again? Will Rowena return to her witch-y ways, since her dreams of marrying her sugar daddy went bust and since she seems to have somewhat repaired her estrangement from her son?

ANSWER: Crowley returns to his throne in Hell, having trapped Lucifer for the seemingly sole purpose (or soul purpose?) of gloating.  Really, as the podcast panelists note, with all of the stupid plans Crowley has had over the years, this one may have been the stupidest.  Meanwhile, Rowena (Ruth Connell) kind of hangs out, does some magic, gets some revenge on her son, that old chestnut, and then, seemingly, gets herself burnt to a crisp by a freshly minted from hell Lucifer.  Her death is treated as a vicious afterthought and without ceremony, despite the impression she made upon the CPU! segment of the Super viewing audience, leading most of our panelists to throw up in arms; however, Rowena’s fate, by virtue of learning of it only from a boastful Lucifer and a charred-beyond-recognition corpse, leads this panelist and moderator to believe that Rowena is not out for the count yet, even if Crowley is (more on that later).

14) Last we saw, Sam and Dean were taken into federal custody because once Lucifer was sucked out of the POTUS with the Golden demon essence sucking Snitch, it appeared as if Sam and Dean had hurt the President, causing the Secret Service and federal marshals to descend upon them and to arrest them.  The panel feels confident that they will escape or be released; we just don’t know how.  Will Castiel, vexed by losing Satan’s spawn, save them? Will Crowley?  Will they break out themselves? Will they get off with presidential pardon? And then, where does the show go from here?

ANSWER: As described above, a deal with Billie allows the boys to break free from prison in exchange for one of their permanently reaped souls.  Cas breaks that deal for them by literally stabbing Billie in the back, saving the brothers’ souls, as well as Mary’s, one more time.  As for where the show goes, listen to the podcast or read above for details.

New Questions

1) Let’s talk about cosmic consequences.  At the end of the season, Castiel is stabbed in the back, in a karmic boomerang of epic proportion, by Lucifer, who uses Cas’ angel blade to get the drop on Cas, as Cas did on Billie the Reaper. We assume Cas will be back, even if his return is predictable and less impacting than it could be, given all of the deaths and rebirths on this show.  We just do not know how or if he will be the same Cas. Will we meet our Castiel again, resurrected once more by some force unknown?  Or, will we be watching an alternate universe version of him, since that universe has been blinked into existence by Jack the Nephilim?  Or, will Jack, who seems connected to Cas thanks to his in utero interaction with the angel, revive Cas himself?

2) Lucifer and Mary are currently trapped in that alternate universe.  Will we see them immediately in the next half season, or will we have to wait, as the producers and cast have confirmed that they live on in the world of a permanent war between angels and demons and mostly extinct humans?  Will we get to see Lucifer and Mary, the “buddy cop” years?  Will Mary punch Lucifer bunches, as panelist Kelsey wishes?  Will they survive?  What will happen to them?

3) Crowley is dead as well, sacrificing his own life in exchange for a spell cast in an attempt to trap Lucifer in the alternate universe – only with Crowley’s death, Mark A. Sheppard also announced his departure from the show, so it seems the King of Hell is permanently pushing up demonic daisies.  Is this why Rowena is killed off?  Is she, in fact, killed off?  Or, did Rowena make a deal with the devil that allows her to survive? She’s been quite the survivor so far, after all.

4) Jack the Nephilim – is he good, or is he evil?  Is he angel, or is he demon?  Is he a yellow eyed demon?  Is he a “prince of hell?”  Is he the “anti-Christ?” What does it mean to be a prince of hell?  We expect that Dean will want to lay him to waste immediately, while Sam will probably argue for the gray area and the possibility that he is not evil, given his angel grace and half humanness.  Will Jack have an effect on Sam?  Will Jack induce a return of Sam’s demonic abilities, originally imbued to him by a yellow eyed demon/Prince of Hell?  How will Jack affect the world at large, given that mere contractions bringing him into the world ripped a hole in space and time?

5) Will Jack be next season’s Big Bad?  Will Lucifer?  If neither of them are, who will be?

6) The perennial question: will we see John Winchester this season?  And played by whom?  And will he be alive or dead?

7) How much of this alternate universe will we be dealing with, overall?  Will we continue to see alterna-Bobby (Jim Beaver)?  Will the apocalypse of that world spill into this one?  Will it cause another apocalypse on this side of the space/time tear?

8) The Supernatural production team is currently in the process of creating another backdoor pilot and potential spin-off in the Wayward Sisters, featuring Jody the Sheriff as the lead character.  How will the road to producing that show, provided that the network approves a full season order, affect current Super events?

9) What is the current status of the American hunter system?  It seems that the Brits with mole mother Mary make efficient work of eliminating known hunters.  Does this mean that Sam and Dean will have to pick up the pieces by recruiting new hunters?  Training them?  Are we about to see a hunter training montage? Speaking of picking up the pieces, how will Sam and Dean go on?  Where will they be when the season premieres?

10) Panelist Jen asks again: where are God, aka Chuck the Prophet, and Amara, the Sister Darkness of God?  How are they doing?  Talk going well?  Hashed out their deity problems much?  Seeking some therapy?  Panelist Allie votes for getting a glimpse of some family counseling session with Chuck and Amara.

11) A Prince of Hell named Ramiel held in his possession two intriguing items: Archangel Michael’s Spear or Lance and (wait for it) the Colt.  The Colt is currently broken, snapped in two by another Prince of Hell named Dagon, who Cas later snuffed.  Can the Colt be repaired?  By Sam?  How is the Colt powered?  Didn’t the Colt have a fixed number of bullets once upon a time?  More importantly, **where did the Colt go after Season 6?** How did Ramiel get a hold of it?  Why has the show not addressed the continuity of this gun?  Why was it brought back only to be broken?  WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THIS THING?!

12) Also, the Spear/Lance is broken, I believe with Crowley’s help in that instance.  Will it be repaired, since Dean pockets the fragments?  Is it usable by anyone besides Michael? Dean is still a predestined Michael vessel – can he use it?  We repeat – will we ever see Michael out of the Cage again?

13) The Vampire Alpha dies in this season, owing to some clever British Men of Letter work.  Does this mean that all vampires die?  I know this is not The Originals, but what happens to the rest of the vampires in the event of the death of their alpha?

PARTING SHOTS

Some doubts have not only resurfaced among the members of our Supernatural panel but have increased as the twelfth season wraps.  Though we all remain committed until the end of the show, whenever that may be, and though, in many ways, Supernatural is still like a well-oiled machine – a quality program with a cultivated, passionate cult fan base, even if the quality is not necessarily consistent in its late life – the panel continues to struggle somewhat with the show after the choppy and somewhat disjointed twelfth season, even though some of our worse fears, including a disparate set of story lines failing to connect in a meaningful way, do not come to pass. Indeed, Season 12 still offers something to enjoy between mother Mary, the British Men of Letters, and Lucifer’s love child, not to mention the usual elements that keep Super fans coming back for more. In fact, the panel members all still agree that Supernatural could never be completely unwatchable, owing to the writing, acting, and quirks of the mythology (and the sheer beauty of its cast).  Though we are in the acknowledged winter of the program’s longevity, there remains nothing like Supernatural on TV right now, and despite the panel members’ individual gripes, all members feel that the show is still entertaining, even this late in its lifetime. Carry On, Wayward Sons, as we prepare to move into Season 13!

LOOKING AHEAD

Supernatural was renewed for a thirteenth season, which is slated to premiere on October 12, 2017.  The Supernatural podcast panel will next reconvene following the thirteenth mid-season finale, which will likely air in or around December 2016. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional show coverage.  Until then!

Once Upon a Time (Season 6B, MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in July 2017, our Once Upon a Time panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the second half of season six of Once Upon a Time, a half season courting allegedly “happy beginnings.” If you are not caught up on Once, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!