Reviewbr> "Woo, that was about as fun as getting kicked in the jewels" - Dean Winchester
Sam and Dean pull into a roadside greasy spoon one evening in order to score some food. Dean wants extra onion on his cheeseburger, oh boy my wife can attest to the horror of that concept, and some pie. So that referencing of Dean's capacity to put away tucker over the last few episodes came home to roost in the final then. Sam heads on in, and a few minutes later Dean notes that the car radio is going all 1950s on us and this, as all Supernatural viewers can attest, is never a good sign. Dean rushes into the diner to find some patrons and staff dead, with their throats slit, and Sam having completely disappeared. To join the final dots, Dean also notes some sulphur residue on the backdoor. Yep, enter Sandman the big nasty in the form of the yellow-eyed demon (YED).
Sam wakes to find himself in a deserted town, having no idea where he is. It's not long before he discovers he is not alone, with fellow "special kids"¯ Andy and Ava also making the scene. We also meet newcomers Lily, who can kill just by touching people, and the dude with the superhuman strength Jake. Hey, it's a regular X-People convention going down here. Our new team quickly learn they are trapped in the town and are under siege by demons masquerading as kids. But is everything as it seems?
Meanwhile Dean and Bobby are frantically searching for Sam and call in the cavalry in the form of the Roadhouse. Not surprisingly, Roadhouse regular Ash has some information. Unfortunately for Dean and Bobby, the demons get to the Roadhouse before they can learn what Ash might have to offer.
Seems Andy has been experimenting with his powers and can put thoughts in other peoples heads, which Sam utilises in order to use his phone a friend option and contact Dean with a vision. Bobby recognises a bell in the vision, and a rescue party is soon heading Sam's way.
In one of those twists we really should see coming, the YED appears to Sam in a sort of dream and explains the current situation. Sam and the rest of the "special kids" are in the isolated town in order to determine who is the strongest, i.e. the only one who gets out of there alive. That person will then be offered the leadership of the YED's army, in a sort of "offer you can't refuse"¯ type of way. Can Dean and Bobby reach Sam before he's dragged into a "who has the biggest" ¯contest with the other "special kids"?
The Winchesters confront the YED end game that has Sam involved to the hilt
Finally, and after what seems a huge number of months, we arrive at season two's resolution and no doubt cliff-hanger ending. It's been a long and arduous trip, but we have had some fun along the way at least, and are now looking for some resolution to the multiple plot arcs and perhaps some explanations as to what the heck has been going down over the first two seasons. With Part 1 of All Hell Breaks Loose we quickly learn that this is end-game time for the YED's plans (thank God for that, sorry but it was being stretched out a tad too much), and get all sorts of meaty goodness on the plot arcs that have been floating around. Unfortunately Sera Gamble can't leave well enough alone and has to add to our questions, Mary Winchester knew who the YED was wtf???? Guess if there's one thing we have learnt over the course of two seasons of Supernatural it would be that there will always be more questions than answers offered as things develop.
Director Robert Singer is called in at the bottom of the ninth to get the season into dock in good style. Excellent decision for mine as Singer nails everything visually and kicks a major with his camera angles. From the opening diner to the town Sam wakes up in, everything is shot in a sort of sepia fashion, there's a typical Supernatural washed out feeling to the locations and Singer amps that by having muddy water lying in stagnant pools in almost every scene. Note the number of boards used in both locations as walkways over mud and slush. Loved the old west ghost town feel to the major location and the whole feeling of decay and things falling apart. Which of course is a visual metaphor for the situation the Winchesters find themselves in.
It's with his camera work, however, that Singer notches extra brownie points with this reviewer. Great use of overhead cam in places to get a feel for the entire location, that shot down the main street of the abandoned town scored with me, and an almost instinctive notion of when to use overheads and when they are being slightly overdone. Singer also goes with some low shots, crazed angles in places, and has some good framing via doorways or windows happening. The overriding notion here is that the Director never overdoes any of the camera shenanigans and uses everything he's got to enhance what you are seeing rather than submerging it in ego gratification. Some of the big name Hollywood Directors could learn a thing or three from Robert Singer here.
Sera Gamble turns in another top notch script in season two and proves beyond a doubt that she is one of the finest writers in the Supernatural stable. Gamble has multiple threads to tie up here and does so without producing an impenetrable knot of illogic. Each plot development in All Hell Breaks Loose is entirely reasonable and flows from events either in previous episodes or in the current one. No one acts out of character and the YED's plan would appear to have been well thought out and long in the planning. As the culmination to two years and forty two episodes, Gamble nails it to the barn door and has the audience demanding more. The only slight issue I had was with the fact that we have one more episode to go this season. I would have left things with this episode and would have had one hell of a cliff hanger for Supernatural fans to chew over during the summer. Of course Sera Gamble cannot be blamed for this, it's a production decision, but she could perhaps have padded things out a tad to get a result here.
What's especially cool with this episode is the reprise of two characters from previous season two outings. Andy, who has been having fun putting visions of gay porn in some dude's head, has been developing his powers and seems to have come to accepted his abilities. Which just goes to show the world has still been turning outside the various Winchester adventures. On the other hand Ava claims to have woken up a day or two previously and claims no knowledge of the five months that have elapsed since her abduction by either the YED or one of his minions.
Jared Padalecki was especially on with the acting front during the episode and had Sam's confusion and then take-charge attitude down pretty well. Interestingly enough, Sam needs rescuing by Jake from possibly becoming a demonic chew toy, which showed a marked departure from the business at hand, and also for no apparent reason that Sam isn't an expert on all forms of demonology. Dean, and trying not to give away spoilers here, brings to bear experiences from recent episodes and faces his worst nightmare; Jensen Ackles once again delivers with the character.
I'm not about to call any "borrowing" ¯from other horror outings with this episode as it pretty much dances to its own unique beat. Demonic manipulation, things ending in blood, it's all good end of day.
In terms of are you ready to rock we get Boston's "Foreplay/Long Time"¯ and Martyn Laight belting out "Wrapped Around Your Finger". I hadn't heard of Laight before but may check out some more of his stuff on the strength of the song in All Hell Breaks Loose.
I was rocking to this episode and it delivered on the promises it had held out over the entire second season, and I guess most of the first season. We finally learn a major part of the YED's plans for his "special children", and that ending makes the final episode in season two simply a must-watch requirement for yours truly. They saved one of the best episodes for nearly the end and I personally can't wait to see some sort of resolution on one plot point, may not happen till season three, and the cliff hanger we are sure to get in the final episode.
The main action in this episode goes down in Cold Oak, South Dakota, a town so heavily haunted that all the residents packed up and left. Why exactly this titbit was thrown onto the script remains a mystery. Besides perhaps indicating it's a demonic retreat of sorts, wouldn't certain YEDs have problems with a constant stream of investigators, and for sure Ed and Lorraine Warren would be leading the charge. Of course the Warrens may not be happy to find the township is in actual fact demonically inclined, therefore debasing their schlock.
If you have been following the Winchester trials and tribulations over the last couple of years then All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 1 is must watch stuff, though be warned you will be fanging to catch Part 2 immediately after viewing the first part. For those who aren't regular attendees at the church of Supernatural then you are out of luck as this episode requires quite a bit of knowledge of previous things that go bump in the night. Season two looks to be signing off in a major way and I'm itching to get stuck into Part 2 of the finale.