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October 7, 2015

Supernatural: Jus In Bello

by Brett Love, posted Feb 22nd 2008 8:37AM

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles of Supernatural
(S03E12) There's no way that Kripke and the team over at Supernatural HQ could have foreseen the strike, only completing 12 episodes, and an extended break after episode 12. Had they been able to do that though, it's hard to imagine a better send off as we head into the break than what we saw in "Jus In Bello." The return of Henricksen and the introduction of Lilith made for a great mid (3/4) season intermission.

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Let's get started with our old pal, Special Agent Victor Henricksen (Charles Malik Whitfield, The Guardian). I've been looking forward to his eventual return for some time now. I love the continuity of it all. It's always good when shows pick up those lingering threads and pay them off. Equally important though, I really like the way that Henricksen interacts with the boys. He had some choice lines as he described them to the ill-fated Sheriff Dodd. In Henricksen's world, Sam and Dean are Hannibal Lecter and his half-wit little brother, two Satan worshiping nutbag killers. I particularly liked Nancy's (Aimee Garcia, Greetings From Tuscon!) reaction to that last bit. It went a long way to sell her character later in the show.

But I've gone and gotten this cart ahead of the horse now. We have to talk about how the boys found themselves at the feet of Henricksen. Lovely Bela. Increasingly, she is becoming the Lucy to Sam and Dean's Charlie Brown. How many times will it take before they realize, "Yep, she's going to pull the football away again!" I'm still operating under the assumption that at some point Bela is going to have a breakthrough of sorts and join the team. I just hope that at some point before that the boys get to take her down about 18 pegs, and really relish in that fact. She really has it coming.

Unlike Ruby, who does seem to be genuinely invested in helping Sam. To what ends? That's still a little murky. I thought her plan for sacrificing the virgin and vaporizing every demon within a mile was an interesting twist, especially given that it would kill her as well. I have a little trouble with her conclusion that it would have ultimately been better than Dean's mass exorcism gambit though. There's no guarantee that Lilith just wouldn't have shown up at the police station later and done the same thing. It was going to be a crappy outcome either way.

The real telling bit of it was the revelation to Dean that Sam had been keeping things from him. Just a little more tension that their relationship doesn't need. We also got yet another look at the continuing flip-flopping of the boys morals as Sam was ready to go with Ruby's plan while Dean was up in arms about not harming an innocent.

As to the siege itself, thumbs up all around from me. Henricksen being possessed was something I didn't see coming. Director Groves (Peter DeLuise) was pretty obvious, but I figured that Henricksen would come around and realize that he needed Sam and Dean to help him get out of this jam when he came face to face with a couple of black eyed demons. As it all played out, I couldn't help being reminded of the classic John Carpenter film, Assault on Precinct 13. Demons instead of gangs and Dean goes to the car for weapons and amulets instead of trying to hotwire it and go for help, but the basics are there.

Getting to the bigger picture, I'm still a little undecided on Lilith. I'm glad that they paid off the hints from earlier so quickly, especially given the upcoming break. And I thought Ruby revealing that the new big bad is a she, and she wants Sam's intestines on a stick, was a great moment. The part I am undecided on is did it have to be a little girl? Maybe it's just a holdover of my disappointment with Blade: The Series, but I got a distinctly Charlotte feel from that brief introduction. Ultimately, I'll probably come around, but I'm not completely sold on little Lilith at this point.

The only other complaint I really have this week would be the death of Henricksen. Yeah, it sucked that Nancy died, but there was mileage to be gained for just how bad Lilith really is there. And I didn't have any hopes or expectations that Nancy would be hanging around for a return engagement, unless it was maybe to do some celebrating in the back of the Impala. Henricksen on the other hand, he could have made for a great recurring character. We got the whole story of how he came to be a hunter right there. Given his speech to Dean before it all went down, it really looks like he would have fully committed to this new life. And wouldn't a friendly connection in the FBI be a handy one to have? I guess we can take some small measure of solace in the fact that at least the boys did appear on the casualty list. When the news report came on my worry was that they were going to be fingered for another string of killings.

All things considered, another great episode. The flash-forward and the Oceanic Six have certainly breathed new life into Lost, and there is no way Supernatural is going to beat it in the ratings battle. For me though, Supernatural is in the middle of the best season for any returning show. Cross your fingers for that Saturn award.

So, that'll do it for a bit. As of now, it looks like the boys will be back with four new episodes starting on April 24th. That means our season three arc is probably going to be a little rushed compared to what was planned going in. With four episodes to wrap things up though, it should work out just fine.

Did you want more Henricksen with your Supernatural?
Absolutely. He would have been great as a recurring character.415 (79.8%)
No. His story had run its course.29 (5.6%)
I'm not a huge Henricksen fan, but if you'll let me trade Bela to get him, Deal!76 (14.6%)

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"I just don't see Bela on the team. I hope to see the Winchester boys hunting and putting her down like a rabid dog. "

Here Here!!! Come on. How much of her crap are they going to put up with. They've put up with LESS from DEMONS!!

GREAT show though. I'm hoping against hope that perhaps Lilith is holding Henricksen to lure them out or something. I hate to think they killed off such a rich character with so much potential.

VERY "Assault on Precinct 13" I thought as well.

March 02 2008 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Enjoyed your review. I agree about Hendrickson. He would have made an awesome hunter and/or a good buffer between law enforcement and the boys. They really should not have killed him off.

As for Lilith, I think it was a great strategy to put her in the body of a little girl. What is more innocent, more sweet, more angelic, than a little girl? It adds a new dimension to the deepening moral quandary the boys find themselves in.

All their lives, they've protected the innocent from supernatural evil. As time has passed, however, they have been forced to eliminate people who are possessed or otherwise fallen to evil. In Croatoan, Dean shot the man in the house; he later shot the man's wife while she cowered on the floor of the linen closet. Meg (the human Meg) died, Dean swiftly dispatched the woman in Fresh Blood who was basically a victim herself and didn't understand she had been turned into a vampire. Sam shot Casey with no apparent hesitation, he killed Gordon with no apparent regret, and was willing to do whatever it took to stop the witches, who were human and obviously failed to understand the depths of the evil they were participating in.

Sam is becoming more and more hardened to the deaths of innocents. He was willing to sacrifice Nancy, to Dean's unhappy surprise. Sam is coming to a crossroads of his own -- whether to follow "Jus in Bello," which means justice in war and prescribes rules of behavior regarding what actions are permissible in fighting a just war -- or whether to subscribe to "the ends justify the means" philosophy. Sam seems to be leaning toward the latter.

Now, for the first time, the collateral damage the boys have caused will involve someone other than adults. Children are special. Sam and Dean would automatically hesitate to attack a child, and a girl child at that. This hesitation will give Lilith an advantage to some degree. The question is: Will Sam decide to pull no punches in dealing with Lilith, and if he does go after her, will Dean try to stop him, and how far will he go to stop him?

Is a darkside Sam who is willing and able to put his humanity on hold really a good thing? Can he save humanity by sacrificing his own? Brother versus brother, good versus evil, innocence versus guilty. Good premises, all.

February 27 2008 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Getting to the bigger picture, I'm still a little undecided on Lilith. I'm glad that they paid off the hints from earlier so quickly, especially given the upcoming break."

You mean the hints where they said a new power was rising in the West and HE didn't like Sam? Too bad they've been referring to Lilith as a "he" in the show all season thus far right up until JIB. I don't mind Lilith, but I wish the writer's would get their acts together this season. The writing has been unbelievably sloppy!

On that note, Bela has got to go. She doesn't need redemption, she needs Ruby's knife through the heart. Seriously. In WHAT Winchester world would the boys willingly embrace working with someone who a) tried to kill Dean b) shot Sam and threatened to kill him c) stole the Colt from them and d) turned them into the FBI. There's not enough redemption in the world. The character's a best. She's a big, freaking cliche Mary Sue and she's gotta go!

February 27 2008 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I got the Assault on Precienct 13 vibe too! It was a great episode and with matching tattoo's to boot. I'm very sad Henricksen died, at first he's the guy you don't like because well he's after the boys but to have him on your side, well there'd be no better ally.

February 26 2008 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Add me to the list of people who were disappointed to see Hendrickson die. Though, I'm not sure if he would have been as fun as an ally. Brett, it's funny that you were reminded of Assault on Precinct 13 when Dean went out to the car, I totally thought it was a Lost Boys reference.

February 23 2008 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mark me down as also finishing Dean's Bob Marley joke and then laughing hysterically. I also thought it was funny when Dean kept after Nancy being a virgin - "you mean you've never ...? Not once?" Too funny.

February 23 2008 at 1:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved this episode, despite a major complaint. I am so bummed that they killed Henricksen; he would have been an awesome recurring character, and he definitely had a hunter inside him. Plus, as you say, an FBI ally would have been massively useful. I guess its possible that he's not dead, as it's obvious from the newscast that they were pronouncing people dead on the basis of them being believed to be in the building rather than an actual body count (otherwise Sam and Dean wouldn't have been pronounced dead). But I think that's highly unlikely. What use would they serve to Lillith alive? So yeah, it's most likely he's dead and it's too bad. If I have any complaints about Supernatural it's that they have a bad habit of killing off promising characters (Ash, Father Jim, Andy, etc.)

One of my favorite things about this episode was definitely Dean's inappropriate humor. "But you didn't shoot the deputy" and "I'm not gonna let that demon kill some nice sweet innocent girl, who hasn't even been laid" were my favorites.

And Sam? Boy oh boy is he starting to scare me. Not only the thing where he was totally willing to sacrifice Nancy, but how he attacked her earlier when she went to give him the towel. That creeped me out. It reminded me a little too much of Season Two's Born Under a Bad Sign, when Possessed Sam attacked Jo. Doesn't it seem like the old Sam would have just asked Nancy for the cross?

I have to say, I'm liking Ruby more and more every episode she's in. I love that there's always a new twist to her character. It really threw me that she was willing to sacrifice herself to see Sam succeed. And she actually almost seemed choked up when she told the boys, "I'm not gonna stand here and watch you lose". Not in the sense that she thought that they were going to die and would be sad about it, but I get the distinct feeling that Ruby is pinning all her hope on Sam, and getting those hopes crushed would be devastating to her.

Bela, on the other hand is tiresomely predictable. She pretends to be their friend and then screws them in a worse way every time. It's annoying because these boys aren't really that stupid. I mean, the second time Sam even saw Meg he knew she was up to no good and that was before she even did anything to him. My hope? Ruby hunts down Bela and ends her, getting the Colt back in the process. *evil chuckles of delight*

February 23 2008 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was an amazing episode. I was thrown several times. Hendrickson being possessed, and most notably, Lilith being a child. I thought she was known as a child-killing demon.

February 22 2008 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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I saw part of this show, and I had to keep swallowing the puke that came up into my mouth. Anyone who watches the show should be shot.

February 22 2008 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Brett: Well, I didn't think he was running for help when we saw him leaving either, I find it odd Lilith wouldn't hear of it as well; but I thought that maybe they wanted to be the ones bringing him to Lilith...

I actually thought this is what Ruby meant when she told the boys, back at the motel : "Do you know how to fight a battle? You strike fast, and you don't leave any survivors so no one can go running to tell the boss!"

February 22 2008 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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