Supernatural: The Great Escapist
October 30, 2021 6:47 AM - Season 8, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Sam and Dean search for the Word's author, Metatron. Castiel tries to protect the angel tablet. Kevin tries to translate more of the Word regarding the third trial while under Crowley's surveillance.


Sam: You remember when, uh... when Dad took us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on that pack-mule ride?
Dean: The what?
Sam: And your, uh -- mule kept farting, just letting go, like gale force.
Dean: Dude, you were like four years old. *I* barely remember that.
Sam: You rode a farty donkey.

Metatron: But really, really... it was your storytelling. That is the true flower of free will, at least as you've mastered it so far. When you create stories, you become Gods of tiny, intricate dimensions unto themselves.

Dean: Come on, man. It's me.
Kevin: [sprays him with holy water]
Dean: Now it's wet me.

Dean: John Winchester's famous cure-all kitchen-sink stew. There you go. Enough cayenne pepper in there to burn your lips off, like Dad used to make.
Sam: [pushes away the tray of food aside]
Dean: You want me to do the whole, uh, airplane thing with the spoon?

Crowley: Watch the patois in there.
Demon Sam: Patois?
Crowley: Your slang. "Special K", "nose to the God-stone"... that's the way Dean speaks. Sam is... more basic, more sincere. Remember, I want two distinct, authentic characterizations.
Demon Sam: Yes, sir. [leaves]
Crowley: I was born to direct.

Crowley: How did you figure it out?
Kevin Tran: It started when they forgot the secret knock. But really, it... was the way they acted. I don't think on their best day Sam and Dean would go into town and get me a barbecue dinner, not when there are leftover burritos in the fridge.
Crowley: So... my demons were too polite?
Kevin Tran: Yeah.
Crowley: Well, I'll be a son of a whore.

Ion: He's using a clever tactic. It's a restaurant called Biggerson's. Humans have built hundreds of them, almost exactly alike.
Naomi: What are you talking about?
Ion: It's their sameness. Castiel is using it against us. We try to orient ourselves, but it's as if we're in *every* Biggerson's at once... trapped in a quantum superposition.
Naomi: You're saying that you can't catch him?
Ion: ...There's just so *many* Biggerson's.

Castiel: We were supposed to be their shepherds, not their murderers.
Naomi: Not always, angel. There was that day, back in Egypt, not so long ago; where we slew every firstborn infant whose door wasn't splashed with lamb's blood. And that was just PR.

Crowley: Of course, if I wasn't running everything, I could have played Dean myself.
Demon Technician: Oh, you would have made a great Dean, sir.

Crowley: I had my R&D people melt down one of your angel blades, cast it into bullets. Seems to do the trick.
Naomi: How dare you.
Crowley: I am the daringest devil you've ever met, love.

Naomi: [to Castiel] You're the famous spanner in the works. Honestly, I think you came off the line with a crack in your chassis. You have never done what you were told; not completely. You don't even die right, do you?


When Sam is delirious, Dean calls him "Little Big Man". He is referring to the 1970 Dustin Hoffman satirical western about a white child raised by the Cheyenne in the 19th century, Little Big Man.

The title of this episode is a take on the 1963 Steve McQueen WWII classic The Great Escape.

First appearance of Metatron played by Curtis Armstrong.

In Metatron's room behind Sam and Dean there's a box on the bookshelf from Powell's books, a popular Portland bookstore.
posted by orange swan (4 comments total)
The mule ride in the Grand Canyon must be the first we've heard of John Winchester ever doing something fun with his sons.

Why didn't the holy water test Kevin did make the demon imitators of Sam and Dean smoke and burn?

I felt glad that at least Kevin got one good meal out of Demon Sam and Dean.

Metatron gets to spend centuries sitting around and reading. Nice work if you can get it.

I've been googling Curtis Armstrong. He thought he was going to be a stage actor, but when he was in an off-Broadway play in the 1980s he began getting offers for other things. His first movie role was in Risky Business, and he assumed it would be his only movie, and so kept a journal to document all his thoughts in order to capture the experience. Of course that movie led to steady work in movie and TV roles, and he has an impressive number of credits on IMDb. He seems best known for having played Booger on Revenge of the Nerds, though I always remember him as Herbert Viola on Moonlighting. He says he gets recognized as Booger every day, and he has written a memoir entitled Revenge of the Nerd.

In addition to his acting career, Armstrong's affinity for the music of Harry Nilsson has prompted him to become an enthusiast of Nilsson's work. He has written liner notes for CD reissues of Nilsson albums and has been instrumental in archival and bonus track preparation for these reissues. Additionally, Armstrong is an avid fan of Washington Irving, Laurel and Hardy, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. He is an investitured member of the Baker Street Irregulars, the literary society dedicated to Sherlock Holmes. In 2006, he was given the investiture "An Actor, and a Rare One", which had previously been the investiture of Richard B. Shull.

On Twitter, where Armstrong's handle is @curtisisbooger, he comes across as a total sweetheart, freely interacting with others. He often replies to ordinary, non-verified Twitter users without them even having tweeted at him first. He seems musical and bookish. He's clearly an animal lover, who often retweets cute animal photos/videos and cartoons, and routinely extends his sympathy to people who have lost their pets and his congratulations those who've just adopted a new pet. Politically he seems to be firmly on the right side of things. He's anti-Trump, describes himself as a feminist, and is pro-choice. His father died of COVID in May 2020, and Armstrong is triple vaxxed.

His 2017 memoir, Revenge of the Nerd: Or... The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger, seems like it might be a fun read, as Armstrong has a lot to dish out and seems willing to do so. Here's an excerpt I found:

Tom's an interesting character. Couldn't really make him out. He would appear to be on the brink of a great career. But when it comes to doing anything with him -- socially or professionally -- he's not terribly reliable. Always late, very casual with other people's time. But he was kept waiting the other day, and threw a fit. He seems to be infected by the old star trip, too, at times, For example, he and Bronson Pinchot had arranged to see a film in town. This entailed arranging for a driver, which Bronson did. The driver shows up, Bronson's there, but no Tom. So Bronson calls up to his room, and wakes him up. "Let me just take a thirty second shower." "But the driver's waiting," said Bronson. "That's his job," snaps Tom. He finally ambled down about twenty minutes later and said, "Let's go to the bar." No movie.

Sean Penn would hang out on set, and actually appears in the movie as an uncredited cameo. Driving Joel's Porsche out of the garage. Why this was done escapes me. Sean probably just wanted to drive the Porsche. And Sean tended to do what Sean wanted.

I spent a fair amount of time in Tom's room, and was always struck by how neat and well-kept it was. But going into the room just a couple days after Sean's arrival was a revelation. It looked like someone had blown up a convention of rising young eighties actors. There were clothes literally covering the entire floor. By which I mean there was no carpet visible -- just clothes. There was a heady scent to the place, too. A rich musk of dirty laundry, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and young white male. The curtains were drawn against the light no matter what time it was. The two of them would either still be in bed, or lounging in underwear. It looked like a Calvin Klein ad. My suggestion that they should be outside on a day like this was not dignified with a response.

Anyway, I haven't found a single negative thing about Armstrong, so he's another Supernatural actor I'm putting in the "seems like a decent person so far as Google tells me" category.
posted by orange swan at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2021

The little shift in posture Padalecki and Ackles do as Crowley’s actors walk away from the ship is a nice, subtle but still obvious indicator they aren’t the real Sam and Dean. That’s a nice piece of physical acting.

Dean’s three-day count on his fingers using the pinky, fourth and third finger, with the index and the thumb making a zero is more of a European way of doing it, isn’t it? Personally, I’d just use the index, middle and ring finger in that order.

It doesn’t make sense that Cas doesn’t die after being gut shot with that angel-blade bullet if Noami’s lackey evaporates the minute Cas puts the bullet into his eye. Having an eye removed isn’t a death sentence.

I don’t buy Kevin’s argument that the actors were too polite and that the Winchesters would have never gone on a takeout run for him. Dean in particular cooked for Kevin and tried to get him to eat greens. Of course he would have gone for food (not to mention, getting something for himself).

If the gates of Hell are closed, how do reapers pass with damned souls? And if damned souls can’t go to Hell, where do they go and what happens to them? Wouldn’t that cause a supernatural log jam somewhere?

The holy water issue bothered me, too, but I guess if Kevin is being held in some kind of Hellish illusion, the power of the cross he used to bless the water is somehow negated because it's an illusion, too. It's a harder argument to make if there is some other non-phyiscal way to bless the water (like a blessing), but I think we can still handwave it away as Hell could surely torment believers and use their faith against them.
posted by sardonyx at 9:38 AM on October 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the highlight of Curtis Armstrong, orange swan! Looks like he's doing a lot of voice work these days (I had no idea that 'American Dad!' was still airing). He was quite memorable as Dayglow Doug on 'Happy!' He played Mitchell Wolf in 'Flypaper' (2011) which is criminally under-rated. Stellar oft-under-rated cast all around.

I think that we've seen demons and angels escape "grazes" before, and notably Dick Roman could regenerate from injuries that'd melt other leviathans; I guess if an angel has enough power, they can regenerate faster than the injury could harm their corporeal integrity. Maybe angels are like zombies (destroy the brain) and it was too expensive to show Cas shoving the bullet all the way into the angel's braincase.

The gates of Hell closing feels like another mirror of 'Sandman Slim' - there, the gates of Hell were closed because Stark felt that the system was corrupt, so that forced souls to end up in Purgatory/ alternate Hell until he forced the powers that be to reform the system and a more "fair" distribution of souls was set up.

The angels having absent daddy issues is straight up out of 'SS.'

demonSam's stupid 'Special K' nickname for Kevin was a nice setup for the actor reveal.

Naomi's Newton's cradle (the clacky desktop pendulum thing) being magnetized/ used incorrectly squicks me out for some reason, but I appreciate it not clacking.

Cas' fanny pack is awfully 'The Fifth Element' (1997), no?

Sam's introspection feels like a pretty heavy handed allegory for childhood sexual abuse, with shades of Ritual Satanism scare of the 80s.
posted by porpoise at 11:23 AM on October 30, 2021

Sam is an extremely flawed person but I really feel for being that young and believing there’s something fundamentally wrong in you, and what a number it would do on your head to find out as an adult that that whole time you were right, and there really literally is something bad inside you and you'll never get it out. I have a lot of opinions about how this show handles the metaphysical implications of being pure or impure, or being tainted by something that happened to your body that you had no control or knowledge of, but the emotion there feels real.

My lasting impression of Metatron is so purely one of annoyance that it was a legit surprise to remember he didn’t start out that way.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:38 PM on October 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

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