Filed under: Recaps & Reviews
Even God can be afraid.
In Harlan, Kansas, the battle may be over but the war still rages on. They may have evacuated the town with the benzene cover up but after two days, the residents are becoming stir crazy and want answers. On the other side of the barrier, the ghosts have had just enough and start to plan their escape, lead by none other than Jack the Ripper. In the middle are the Winchesters, struggling to find an answer until Rowena shows up to help. She tries to strengthen the barrier but it doesn't work. She has another idea but it will take time, something they don't have. Just when things seem to be getting worse, former British Men of Letters assassin, Arthur Ketch, shows up to help. Backup continues to pour in but the escaped souls from hell are too powerful and continue to erupt from the depths of hell by the second. When Ketch and Dean are about to be killed by a ghost, Kevin Tran comes to their rescue and scares the ghosts away. After being cast out of heaven, Kevin is among the spirits that have been freed from their cage. After some quick planning, he agrees to help the Winchesters by joining the angry spirits to learn what their plan is to escape. With the barrier losing strength every moment, they have to act quickly if they intend to stop Jack the Ripper and the other ghosts from escaping before it's too late.
Following last week's Back and to the Future, Raising Hell had its moments but meandered through a dull story and anchored by a weak antagonist. To start, the barrier plot hasn't really held its weight and feels generic with demons escaping from hell and the Winchesters having to stop it or clean up the endless slew of monsters/ghosts that continue to escape. We can go as far back as the end of season two when the hell gate was opened after killing the Yellow Eyed Demon. Throughout Raising Hell, the pace dragged and was continually resuscitated by the return of a fan favourite through Rowena, Ketch, or Kevin. These moments felt good for longtime fans to see these characters return I honestly think this episode would have been better off if Ketch returned later. Having all three of them felt needlessly bloated and of didn't allow the episode to focus any one in a way that it needed to for fans of Supernatural. Really, this was Kevin's episode to shine, alongside Rowena, but his (potential) final appearance on Supernatural could have been a lot better. He mentioned that being cast out of heaven bought him street cred with the angry ghosts but he was made the moment he showed up to see the other ghosts. It was an anticlimactic moment and never took Kevin Tran outside of the helpless damsel that he was years ago when he was regular on the show. Outside of those issues, the ghost vacuum was a bit on the nose for ghostbusters (we all saw that easter egg shot at the end) and while fun, felt kinda flat when it all came together.
For a cerebral killer that evaded police capture during his reign of terror in London, Jack the Ripper's portrayal in Raising Hell only dragged the episode down. Played by Lane Davies (known for starring Shakespearean roles), Jack the Ripper was missing an accent and the insane brilliance needed for the role. Davies' portrayal was fine but devoid of anything memorable. Much to his credit, the error lies in the weak writing and vanilla interpretation of the character.
While it has obvious faults, Raising Hell's simple moments are where the episode found its stride. The first scene between Castiel and Dean confronted their opposing feelings on God head on. Dean feels like his life has been joke, saving the world time and time again for nothing while Castiel values the people that they are the relationships they have formed. It may have been a fixed race but they ran it their way. Dean's unwillingness to forgive Castiel for Mary's death continues to be the wound in their relationship and may even be the end of it after all of these years. Speaking of damaged relationships, Chuck and Amara are once again on the rocks as the God we once knew seems to be no more. Chuck is weakened, without allies and trapped on earth with the Winchesters. The scenes between the two were great and really helped set up the inevitable battle between him and the Winchesters. He may still be powerful, but the Winchesters have a fighting chance now that Supernatural has set up the link between Sam and Chuck.
Raising Hell had its moments but there were too many distractions for the episode itself to tell a great story. Even though I enjoyed the scenes with Chuck and Amara, that would have been better two or three episode later when the story pace slows but still needs a way to connect to the overall arc of the final season. As bittersweet as it was, we did get to say goodbye to Kevin Tran...maybe. We'll see how the story in Harlan, Kansas continues to develop in the next episode, The Rupture.