Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S05E17 – 99 Problems

In the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Supernatural, Sam and Dean stumble upon a vigilante church fighting the demons invading their town. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of depression and misogynistic slurs.

I had one single moment of excitement because I thought Dean had decided to fight, and then SUPERNATURAL TOOK IT AWAY FROM ME. My god, this show has become so sad, HOW AM I GONNA MAKE IT THROUGH THE FINALE.

Vigilante Demon Fighting

I’m hoping that this is the first sign that the end of the world scenario unfolding on Supernatural is finally going to break out of the background of the world. Dean’s warning to Lisa suggests that’s the case, but regardless, I was instantly hooked on the idea of what “99 Problems” explores. It was bound to happen! Eventually, other hunters were going to join the fight. I mean, we did see a couple in the previous episode, but they were just around to kill the Winchesters. (Who are now back on Earth, for the record, and will probably shit themselves when they run across Dean and Sam. Hey, Dean did promise you!)  But to categorize the Sacrament Lutheran Militia as “hunters” doesn’t quite fit what they do. I got the sense that none of these people had ever hunted demons a day in their life prior to the invasion in their town. But through the guidance of Pastor Gideon, the town of Blue Earth, Minnesota begins to push the demon threat away. Successfully!

It’s a very surreal thing to see. Holy water cannons! (Why hadn’t the Winchesters ever thought of that???) Group recon missions! Devil’s Traps at all entrances! A church used as mission control! There is so much detail in these sets and in the action scenes, and I love it. This doesn’t feel like it was thrown together; it’s all very complete and well-thought-out. And shit, didn’t that raid feel electric? Of course, I did mention during the video that it was too clean of a fight. I was suspicious because nothing good happens to anyone on this show. But my suspicions didn’t negate how refreshing it was to watch a demon fight with so many combatants and so much choreography. I’m so used to these small, innocent fights that the giant brawl was EXTREMELY FUN. Back-up is awesome.


But this idyllic and fully-functioning force of badasses had to have a secret or some awful twist. When Leah Gideon was revealed as a prophet, I had one singular worry: this whole thing was a trap for Dean Winchester. If she was telling the truth and the angels really were speaking to her, then they must have told her about their need to have Dean consent to being Michael’s vessel. Combine this with the group’s belief in the Christian God, and I began to worry this was a set-up.

Lord, I was so close and still so very, very far.

Clearly, something was wrong once Leah swore to the angels’ new commandments. We know the angels are THE WORST, but moralizing? Requiring them to submit to the strictest of interpretations of Christian theology? Promising the resurrection of the chosen ones? SOMETHING WAS NOT RIGHT. OH GOD. OH GOD.

Castiel / The W***e of Babylon / Apathy

Wrapped up in this nightmare is apathy. It affects Castiel, who arrives at the Winchester’s hotel extremely drunk. It affects Dean, too, who balks at the notion that there can be peace on earth, despite that Leah promises him this is the case. After the trauma of “Dark Side of the Moon,” both men are lost and sick of caring about a world that is going to hell anyway. It’s really sad to watch, and that’s even more so for Castiel, since we know that a future version of him succumbs to alcoholism as way to cope with his lost powers. Is this the first step in that direction?

But Dean’s apathy is gently nudged away once he witnesses the horrors that Leah’s prophecies have wrought. The people of Blue Earth are now willing to kill one another in order to secure a place in the group denoted as the “chosen ones.” Even though Dean doesn’t know what Leah really is, he knows that this has to stop. I understood why he immediately theorized that the angels were just toying with these people because DUH, THAT’S WHAT THEY DO ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

However, this has nothing to do with angels; Leah is the Whore of Babylon, prophesied to return to Earth in the run up to the Apocalypse. Their only goal? To condemn as many souls to Hell as possible. Now, I get that this is a part of biblical lore in Revelations. The name is unfortunate in any other context, which is why you’ll see it censored everywhere except this paragraph. I know that I have no personal stake in the use of the word on the axis of misogyny. (Though good lord, I’ve heard it directed at me a lot out of the mouth of homophobes. That’s a separate issue.) I just thought it was a little gratuitous to have Dean call her that word near the end. Like… I know that Dean’s supposed to be this manly-man who uses crude language often. I’m sure if this wasn’t on the CW, we’d hear a lot worse. It’s just that it’s been happening a lot lately, and I feel like there are ways to avoid its frequency without taking away from the character or the tone, you know? (Plus, there’s the implication of the slur in the episode title, since it’s referencing the Jay-Z song. Is that meant to refer to Leah, too?)

Anyway, let’s talk about me being wrong and wrong and wrong and then COMPLETELY DESTROYED. This episode quickly becomes uncomfortable when we find out that the only person equipped to kill Leah is a “servant of Heaven.” With Cas out of commission, Dean without faith or hope, and Sam as an “abomination” (NOOOO SAM YOU ARE THE BEST PLEASE DON’T MAKE SAD FACES PLEASE DON’T), that leaves Pastor Gideon. He is, unsurprisingly, completely horrified by the suggestion, but what choice do they have?

Haha. Choice. CHOICE.

Y’all, when Dean killed Leah, my assumption was that he’d found faith in the fight again. He realized that letting this shit happen around him wasn’t worth it anymore. And I was actually excited. Except THAT IS NOT AT ALL WHAT HAPPENED. NO, DEAN MADE THE DECISION RIGHT THEN AND THERE TO CONSENT TO MICHAEL. He gave up, y’all. He gave up. The irony here is that the angels had nothing to do with any of this. It was Lucifer’s side who pushed Dean in this direction.

I mean, how else am I supposed to interpret this? HE VISITS LISA. HE VISITS LISA AND TELLS HER THAT HE’S GOING TO MAKE SURE SHE AND BEN ARE OKAY AND HE WARNS HER ABOUT HORRIBLE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO HAPPEN AND Y’ALL. This isn’t happening?!?!?!?! Oh my god, I know it’s ambiguously written, but I feel like I should freak out about this. What does this mean??? What is Dean going to do next? Will Sam try to stop him? WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF?

Lord, this show is unreal. Poor Pastor Gideon, by the way. That dude got a rough break here.

The video for “99 Problems” can be downloaded here for $0.99. And no problems. I hope!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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