TV

"Rock Never Dies" Takes Shots at Celebrity Culture In a Surprisingly Effective Episode

Jessy Krupa
Vince/Lucifer (Rick Springfield) talks about his abandonment issues.

Season 12's best episode yet isn't perfect, but well-done, with an excellent swan song performance by Rick Springfield.


Supernatural

Airtime: Thursdays, 9pm
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Subtitle: Season 12, Episode 7 - "Rock Never Dies"
Network: CW
Air date: 2016-12-01
Amazon
"Lucifer was bad enough when he had a plan, a motive. Now he's just having fun."

Sam Winchester

When we last saw Lucifer (Rick Springfield), his body was rapidly decaying as Rowena (Ruth Connell) banished him to "the bottom of the bloody ocean". So you might be wondering just how he could be the center of this week's episode? As it turns out, all it takes is a devil-worshiping teen (Jeff Evans Todd) and a "Lucifer feather" purchased off of the Internet. Lucifer instantly appears in the teen's basement, and snaps the necks of his devotees before revealing that these feathers have the power to heal him, but only for a little while

Back at the bunker, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) plays Words With Friends with his mother. Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed that Dean's letters at the bottom of screen could've been used to spell the word "Lucifer", minus the "i". As to be expected, however, this comes to an end as Castiel (Mischa Collins) calls and tells the Winchesters that Vince Vincente is currently on TV, talking about his new, major record label deal with his reformed band, Ladyheart.

Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who in Dean's words, has been part of an "'80s buddy comedy" with Castiel in their search for Lucifer, knows the head of this particular record label well, as he's also in the business of referring desperate musicians who wish to sell their soul. Russell (Kadeem Hardison) treats Crowley like an essential part of the record business, and there are many jokes about Los Angeles and Hollywood being Crowley's kind of place, but he insists that Vincente hasn't threatened him or put him under some kind of spell.

In fact, much of the episode dealt with the bizarro world of Hollywood and celebrity culture. Ironically for a TV show that has such a fervent fan following, the general view expressed here is that people put far too much importance on celebrities, who frequently abuse their power in shallow, self-esteem-boosting ways. Supernatural's cynical vision of Hollywood hasn't changed much since season two's "Hollywood Babylon" episode: it's a vapid industry populated by vain, silly talent, and the leeches who benefit from them. This message, however, is mostly squeezed in between signs of Hollywood excess, like the wacky tour rider that Castiel mistaken believes is the ingredients to a spell, or the cucumber-water dispenser that our heroes drink from while waiting in Vincente's hotel lobby.

The Winchesters' plan is to convince the various members of Vincente's entourage to help them, but even though they've noticed a sinister change in his personality, they refuse to mess with their chances at success. Lucifer, meanwhile, enjoys the adulation he gets from fans, especially the fact that he can convince a devoted groupie (Crystal Allen) to carve his name into her chest as a symbol of her love. He schedules an exclusive comeback concert with a group of new-found fans, while taking the time to kill Russell, and his bandmates, just for the fun of it.

Sam and Dean save the audience by pulling a well-timed fire alarm, while Castiel and Crowley team up to fight Lucifer backstage. A pretty good fight ensues, with Crowley unexpectedly coming to Cass' rescue and fighting a lot more strongly against the devil than you may have thought, but Lucifer makes it clear that he could easily kill the two if he wanted to. In a particularly strong show of acting from Springfield, he goes onstage and announces what his major malfunction actually is: he's bitter because God left Earth again, leaving him with a meaningless life that he resents. His speech actually isn't that different than what you would hear from any other hedonistic villain, but is delivered in an impressively sinister way, especially because his body is rapidly decaying as he says it. It's another good showing from the special effects department, but as Lucifer soars on in search for a new vessel, we can't help but feel bad for Vincente, whose body shrivels up on the stage floor. Sam and Castiel blame themselves for the entire situation, but Dean vows to them and Crowley that they will defeat Lucifer somehow.

Despite the worn-out Hollywood cliches and the occasional easy, plot-serving coincidence, this week's episode of Supernatural was a return to form. The jokes landed, the fan service was on point, the special effects were well-done, and the ending was truly surprising. This declaration of what season 12 is actually going to be about was a lot more entertaining and interesting than the rather weak monster-of-the-week episodes that we've seen recently, and it should really make viewers interested in what is going to happen next.

Next week, Lucifer sets his sights on the White House. Regardless of your political affiliation, feel free to insert your own political joke here.

9

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image