Supernatural, Ep 8.02: “What’s up, Tiger Mommy?” keeps the pressure high, while exploring purgatory’s effect

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Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 2: “What’s up, Tiger Mommy?”
Written by Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin
Directed by John F. Showalter
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW

The life of a Hunter is a tough one, that’s been made clear throughout the entirety of Supernatural’s run. Even putting aside the fact that both Winchester brothers were pulled into the life by otherworldly forces that had no regard for the collateral damage that occurred in their attempts to accomplish their goals, Hunters such as Bobby, Ellen and Jo, and Gordon have also suffered losses because of their vocation. But they’re not the only ones- many people who have unwittingly become possessed by demons, or even consented to angelic possessions, have ended up worse for the experience, with the collateral damage of the vessel’s death being an unavoidable part of killing a demon. Veteran Hunters have accepted this as a natural aspect of their lifestyle, but for people on the periphery, the price they are forced to pay can be a heavy one, and this episode tackles how someone new to Hunting copes with the harsh nature of the trade, delivering a compelling episode in the process that manages to bring some of the show’s signature levity back as well.

It is very interesting to watch how Kevin and his mother, Mrs. Tran, adapt to the Winchesters’ lifestyle. While the brothers have had people join them for one-off adventures through the years, Kevin’s status as prophet adds particular significance this time around that wasn’t present previously, as they’ve got all manner of entities gunning for him, making him, and by extension his mom, the most important people the Winchesters have had to protect, even more than Jimmy Novak. And while Kevin has some idea of how to combat demons, watching Mrs. Tran try to adapt to the world she was unaware of just a day ago for the sake of protecting her son, and the sacrifice she makes when push comes to shove, adds an extra dimension of emotional weight to the proceedings. Having been immersed in this world for so long, seeing how people who newly discover it react to both the creatures and the decisions Hunters have to make can be a good reminder for the audience of how harsh and brutal both these things really are.

Another strong point of the episode is watching Dean’s post-purgatory Hunting skills. While the season premiere afforded Dean only one chance to tangle with demons, this episode gives him a wider array of foes to go against, giving the audience a better idea of Dean’s behaviour in combat and how the year in purgatory has changed him. The interrogation scene in particular, as it flashes back and forth between the past and the present, between the monster and the thief, provides an interesting contrast of the two worlds, showing how radically different they were. How Dean’s time in purgatory manifests itself in his actions as the season progresses promises to be fascinating, as he has already called it pure and declared he has no regrets about what he did there, despite the brief flashbacks with Castiel suggesting that some events are weighing on his soul. The experience already seems to be radically different from Dean’s time in Hell, proving that the writers will not be simply rehashing that storyline, making it all the more interesting as a result.

Overall, this is another strong episode of the series. Crowley’s presence continues to be a welcome overall addition and his setup as the main antagonist this season, while inevitable given his character’s position since season 6, is still a treat. The introduction of Samandiriel proves that the angels are not done with the Winchesters as yet, and how they factor into the larger storyline, and more particularly who becomes the representative for the angel population this season, especially in Castiel’s absence, also has the potential to be compelling. Kevin Tran’s journey should also be worth watching; as this episode proves, he has a bullseye on his back not just from demons, but other supernatural entities as well. He’s not knowledgeable enough to combat all of them, so what happens to him and Mrs. Tran now that they’ve separated from the Winchesters and turned down the angels, remains to be seen. On a related note, Lauren Tom deserves accolades for her fantastic work as Mrs. Tran this episode, as well as her brief stint as Crowley, and hopefully this is not the last the audience will see of her.  All in all, the progression of events this week proves the writers still have a lot up their sleeves for this season. Watching how it all ties together will make for a fun ride, if nothing else, and that’s reason enough to tune in next week.

Deepayan Sengupta

3 Comments
  1. sarahjay55 says

    Brilliant episode – spectacular mix of danger, torment, laughs and intrigue.

    Does anyone know the actor who played Samandiriel? Been trying to find out all day, with no luck….

    1. Deepayan Sengupta says

      The actor’s name is Tyler Johnston. His last big role seems to have been in The Killing.

      1. CJ says

        The guy who plays Samadriel was the same guy who appeared in Bugs (yes the little fella).
        Btw… liked ur review. This was a solid episode and set up the rest of the season quite well. Jensen is rocking. His performance as PTSD/purgatory Dean is simply outstanding. This level of acting on any other show would have won him an Emmy. He showed a myriad of emotions in just one shot (the reunion with Cas). Awesome.

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