Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 19: “Taxi Driver”
Written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming
Directed by Guy Norman Bee
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW
For most of Supernatural’s run, the Winchester brothers have found themselves on the reactionary end of things, racing to stop threats and avenge loved ones with the entities they’re fighting, from Azazel to the Leviathan, staying one step ahead most of the time. Closing the gates to Hell, however, marks a rare instance where the brothers are proactive, as they have been able to go about their actions with Crowley and Naomi, the main antagonistic forces, trying to catch up to them, rather than the other way around. This has put Sam and Dean in a unique position, but one that comes with its own set of challenges, compounded by the fact that the actions themselves are uncharted territory. This week’s episode revisits the challenges the Winchesters face in trying to close the gates of Hell, in a thrilling episode that sees the brothers reunite with an old friend and say goodbye to another.
It was sad to see Benny’s time on Earth come to an end. His rationale was perfectly understandable; after the love of his life turning on him, Martin ruining any chance he had of connecting with his great-granddaughter, and Dean turning his back on Benny to preserve Dean’s relationship with Sam, Benny had lost all possible support systems for a while before this week’s events. This, combined with the sentiment both Benny and Dean have expressed about the black and white, simplistic nature of purgatory, makes Benny’s viewpoint easy to see. It will be worth watching to see if this is the last the Winchesters have seen of Benny, as Sam admits that he misjudged Dean’s purgatory fighting partner, opening the door for a possible collaboration between Benny and the Winchesters, should the former ever decide to come out of purgatory again, or be given the means to, whether from a rescue attempt initiated by Dean, or other means. He could be a valuable ally for hunters, and recruiting him to help would go a long way towards restoring Benny’s self-esteem as well as giving him a sense of belonging, while not damaging the relationship he has with vampires already, which has been shown to be fragile and contentious at best.
The apparent olive branch Naomi extends to the Winchesters this episode is also an intriguing storyline. While it’s obvious from what the audience has seen that Naomi is not telling Dean the whole truth about Castiel, not only is her motivation in seeing the gates of Hell sealed shut something that’s believable, but her assistance in getting Bobby to Heaven and personally going toe-to-toe with Crowley in favour of the Winchesters is an action she did not need to take, but did anyway. How far the Winchesters choose to trust her, and what her ultimate objective really is, are both worth looking out for; Sam and Dean have certainly worked with less trustworthy individuals in circumstances such as these before, and the help of an angel, now that Castiel’s diasappeared, would be invaluable in fighting Crowley and his minions, and having numerous angels on their side would significantly tip the odds in their favour. As for Naomi, whether it is more important that she get the angel tablet or that Crowley not get hold of it will determine whether her true intentions are to help the Winchesters seal the gates of Hell, or to simply get to Castiel and the angel tablet, with the shutdown of Hell’s gates considered a nice perk.
Kevin’s hallucinations is another fascinating aspect of the episode. Much like the Winchesters, Kevin found himself inexplicably in the middle of the war against supernatural entities when he became the only person on Earth who could read the tablets; however, he has had to adjust to as much as the Winchesters have, in significantly less time, and unlike Krissy and her friends, Kevin doesn’t have the option to leave the hunter’s life, as there is bound to be a bullseye on his back for the rest of his life even if he stops being a prophet. With these factors, plus the isolation and the trauma of having been tortured by Crowley, it’s easy to see why Kevin suffers a psychotic break. However, with Crowley now clearly on Kevin’s trail, and aware that the Winchesters are up to something detrimental to Crowley, with Kevin playing a large part in that, Kevin’s paranoia is not unfounded either, and disappearing to a place where nobody, good or bad, can find him is undoubtedly an effective strategy to stay alive, and very similar to the course of action Castiel has taken as well. How well Kevin fares, physically, mentally, and emotionally, as the trials to close the gates of Hell continue, and Crowley’s efforts to get the other half of the demon tablet intensify, are worth looking out for.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode, and one that pushed numerous storylines from the season forward without seeming rushed or inorganic. Bobby’s return was a welcome presence, and it was good to see another Reaper, as they remain one of the more enigmatic yet fascinating otherworldly entities of the show. It will be interesting to watch what actions Crowley takes, now that Naomi and Heaven have explicitly aligned themselves against him, adding more clout to the Winchesters’ quest to close the gates of Hell. However, Crowley is nothing if not resourceful, and though he may have been defeated this time around, those who count out Crowley do so at their own peril. How this plays out, as well as how Kevin’s psychotic break affects his ability to translate the rest of the demon tablet and what Naomi’s real endgame is, as well as how the Winchesters deal with these changes in their circumstances, and how Dean copes with what he perceives as a failure in helping Benny cope, are worth tuning in to see next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta