Supernatural 8.10 Review: Torn and Frayed Indeed

SPN Torn and Frayed

Welcome back from winter Hellatus my fellow Supernatural junkies! I have a lot to say about Supernatural’s January return, so let’s get right to it. Torn and frayed definitely sums up the current state of the Winchester brothers’  relationship. Let me start off by saying that I have mixed feelings about this episode. It wasn’t the writing. Jenny Klein’s script moved along at a decent clip and there were little bits of humor thrown in to balance out the overall heaviness of the episode. I have no complaints there.  Robert Singer is also one of my favorite SPN directors, so I have no complaints there either. My problem is with the characterization of Sam and Dean. I don’t feel like either of them is behaving the way that 8 and a half seasons says that they would be. I’ve read some reviews arguing that this episode shows that the Boys are learning to compromise, but I don’t see very much compromise here. But let me not get ahead of myself. This is going to be a long one. You have been warned.

Torn and Frayed

Let’s start with Sam because he’s frustrating me the most right now. This episode picks up right where ‘Citizen Fang’ left off. Sam is still in Texas after having dropped everything and run there because of the fake 911 from Amelia that Dean sent out.  Sam is still (quite understandably) upset that Dean did that to him. When Dean showed up at Sam’s motel, Dean tried to calmly explain what happened with Benny to Sam. Dean tried to explain that he wasn’t trying to hurt Sam with that Amelia text, but he needed Sam to back off.  He’d already tried reasoning with Sam. He’d already tried talking to him, and Sam absolutely refused to listen. Dean knew that if Benny and Sam met up, one of the two people that he cares about was going to get killed and he didn’t want that. So he did the only thing he felt like he could do at that moment. He emotionally manipulated Sam to get him out of harm’s way and to protect Benny. I’m not saying that Dean was right to send that text because he wasn’t. It was low-down and dirty, and although I don’t think Dean considered the emotional state it would put Sam into, he should’ve. They have both lost so much, and Dean should’ve known that if he sent a distress call from Amelia that Sam’s mind would immediately jump to the worst possible outcome. But Sam really frustrated me during that discussion in Texas. He still wasn’t listening to Dean, but on top of that, he accepted zero responsibility for his part in the events leading up to their current predicament. Sam is the one that started the ball rolling on everything that happened in ‘Citizen Fang.’ He’s the one that sent a mentally unstable person out on a hunt. And although Sam didn’t call it a hunt, that’s exactly what it was. Sam is the one that refused to trust Dean’s judgment. Martin died because Sam sent him after Benny. And why? What had Benny done (other than be a vampire) that would be cause for alarm? Had he killed anyone? Maimed anyone? Had Benny done anything other than keep his head down and try to live a quiet life? No. Sam’s unrelenting desire to go after Benny makes absolutely no sense given his history. Sam (correctly) pointed out that he doesn’t know Benny and has no reason to trust him. That’s valid and I get that. But he didn’t have to trust Benny. He needed to trust Dean, and that’s all that Dean was asking. As many times as Sam has asked the same from Dean, and Dean has done it, you would think that Sam would be able to trust Dean this one time. But like so many arguments before, Sam didn’t accept his role in their situation. His whole argument was that Dean was wrong for sending him that text about Amelia. Dean was wrong for saying that a vampire was the victim. Dean was wrong. At no point did Sam even acknowledge that he was wrong for putting Martin on Benny in the first place. At no point did Sam acknowledge that he was wrong for not trusting Dean. At no point did Sam take any responsibility for anything. Part of growing up and maturing is learning to accept your part of the blame when things go wrong in a relationship. Sam hasn’t done that. At all. He still pouts, issues ultimatums, and threatens to abandon Dean whenever he gets angry with him. That’s not moving the character forward and it’s making it increasingly difficult to sympathize with him or even see things from his point of view.  In seasons past, I was able to at least understand why Sam is doing the things he was doing. Be it working with Ruby, hiding the fact that he’s working with Ruby from Dean, drinking demon blood, etc. I didn’t agree with those choices, but at least I understood them. I was able to see how he arrived at that choice and it sort of made sense. I cannot say the same about Sam this season and that’s what’s frustrating me. I do not understand why Sam has refused to trust Dean at all. I do not understand why Sam was so gung-ho to go after Benny. I cannot understand Sam at all.

Torn and Frayed   Now let’s talk about Dean. I’m more confused by Dean than I am frustrated by him. There are a couple of things that feel off about Dean. His decision to ditch Benny at the end of the episode doesn’t fit with Dean’s character at all. One of the things I’ve always loved about Dean is his loyalty. He doesn’t let people into his circle easily, but once you’re there, you’re there for life. He will move heaven and earth for you. That’s why I’m having such a problem with how the Dean/Benny relationship ended. Benny and Dean mean too much to each other for Dean to abandon him like that. Especially since Benny called Dean needing help. Dean doesn’t just abandon people like that. He’s never done that. It could be argued that Dean severed ties with Benny because he was presented a choice between Sam and Benny. Historically, whenever Dean’s forced to choose between Sam and anyone else, he always chooses Sam. But even so, it just seems odd for Dean to claim that Benny is the only person who’s never let him down and then for Dean to leave Benny twisting in the wind alone. I think maybe a part of Dean knew that he and Benny weren’t going to be able to maintain the type of relationship topside that they had while they were in Purgatory. And that would make sense, but it doesn’t sit right that Dean would leave Benny to fend for himself. In addition to the Benny thing, it seems off that Dean was so hard against working with Sam. I can understand that Dean was frustrated by Sam’s refusal to listen to him, and I think Dean was probably still even a bit angry at Sam’s refusal to trust him about Benny. But after the events of ‘The End’ in S5, Dean came to the conclusion that he and Sam needed each other. Granted, they’ve both been through a (whole) lot since that episode, but still. Dean knows that they need each other and whatever their current problems may be, walking away from each other is not going to make either of them any better. It could be argued that Dean was so adamant about not working with Sam because he figured Sam didn’t want to be on the job anyway. That’s valid. If someone doesn’t want to be somewhere, you can’t force it upon them. But I think Dean felt more like Sam was pushing him away than he was pushing away from the job. That goes to what Dean said at the end of the episode about not being able to separate himself from the job. Although Sam has never really said that he didn’t want to be with Dean, he has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t really want to be on the job. But to Dean, saying that you don’t want to be on the job is saying that you don’t want him in your life. I’m not saying it’s logical but it’s how Dean’s mind works.

The end of the episode was one of the saddest episode endings I’ve seen from this show in a very long time. Yes, Sam and Dean are back together, but at what cost and why? Is it because that’s how each of them wants it or is it because they feel like they have no other choice? It seemed to me it was more the former. Both of them gave up a relationship that means a lot to them so they could come back together, but I don’t see how that solves any of their problems. Sam giving up Amelia didn’t feel like he was choosing Dean (and by extension the hunting life) so much as he was doing it to keep Amelia safe. Sam’s primary argument to Dean about why Dean shouldn’t have sent that 911 back in ‘Citizen Fang’ was that he thought something awful had happened to Amelia. I can understand why Sam’s mind went there. Every woman that he’s ever loved and/or slept with (excluding that time he was a soulless manwhore) has died. Sam didn’t want anything to happen to Amelia, and the best way to do that is to keep her out of his life. In addition to that, Amelia was married to Don. If Sam had gone back to her, he would’ve been “the other man” in Amelia’s life. They never would’ve been able to really live a full life together. So, while I think Sam did want to help Dean figure out what is going on with Cas, find the tablets, etc. It just felt like he didn’t want to be the one that came between Amelia and Don. I felt like Sam resigned himself to a life of hunting moreso than he chose Dean. I’m not minimizing Sam’s sacrifice. When he chose not to go back to Amelia, he gave up what was probably his last chance at any kind of happiness outside the life. That is certainly no small thing. But Dean giving up his relationship with Benny packed more of an emotional punch. Let me just say right off the bat that I have a problem with Sam issuing Dean an ultimatum about Benny. Sam doesn’t trust Benny, and that’s fine, but after all that they’ve been through and all that Dean has done for Sam, Sam should trust Dean. Sam knows Dean and he knows that Dean doesn’t just hand out his trust and loyalty like Halloween candy. If Dean trusts Benny, vampire or not, then Sam should stop and consider that perhaps there’s more to Benny than meets the eye. Sam has made no effort to really understand from Dean’s point of view why Benny means so much to him. That’s a large part of the problem. He doesn’t understand Dean and Benny’s relationship and all he can see is that Dean is friends with a monster. I had a conversation with Clarissa who reviews Supernatural for TVOvermind.com, and she argued that Dean had no right to ask Sam to trust him (Dean) about Benny because Benny is a wildcard. Dean cannot control Benny and thus, Benny is dangerous and Sam is right to refuse to trust Dean about him. That’s valid and I understand her argument. However, my counterargument to that is that in the past, Sam has asked Dean to trust him despite the fact that Sam was playing with a wildcard too. I’m speaking specifically about the Ruby situation. Sam asked Dean to trust him about Ruby and despite every fiber in Dean’s body telling him that Ruby was bad news, Dean followed Sam’s lead on that one. That’s all Dean is asking for here, but Sam refuses to follow Dean’s lead about Benny. I’ve already talked about why I feel like Dean ditching Benny doesn’t fit with who Dean is, so I won’t rehash that. But I felt a much deeper sadness from Dean when he said good-bye to Benny than I felt from Sam deciding not to return to Amelia. The problem with how this episode ended is the complete lack of joy. Yes, Sam and Dean are back together. Yes, the fighting about Benny and Amelia is (in theory) over. But neither Sam nor Dean looked particularly happy about any of it. They actually looked pretty miserable. They looked like two people who had resigned themselves to the idea that the only thing they’ll ever have in this life is each other. It is a sad, claustrophobic world they have created for themselves.

SPN Torn and Frayed 3I feel pretty bad for Cas at this point too. He’s already got guilt coming out of his pores because of all the stuff he did when he was God!Cas. Now added to that is the fact that he’s killed another friend. Granted, he’s being mind-controlled right now, but I have a feeling he’s still going to blame himself about it. Cas has been through the ringer almost just as much as the Winchester boys, and I really would like for him to get a little peace. It’s tough to see a guy who’s just trying to atone for his past sins be used as a pawn by more powerful, nefarious forces. Speaking of, I think I’m kind of getting an idea of who Naomi is. I think she’s the Crowley of heaven. We’ve already seen that she seems like she’s in charge of some secret area of heaven. Or maybe she’s just the one in charge now. When Samadriel was in trouble, she’s the one he was calling. So maybe she’s like the queen of heaven now. We’ve also seen that she’s pretty cold and isn’t above manipulation. I have a feeling that the flashes that Castiel was having of her doing the same thing to him that Crowley was doing to Samadriel means that she’s been torturing Cas too. That would explain why she’s able to mind-control him. She got into his operating system and modified it so she can control him. My question though is why? What does she have to gain from manipulating Castiel? Why can’t she do her own dirty work? Why doesn’t she want him to remember that he’s meeting with her? So many questions about her. I really don’t like that Cas is (once again) being manipulated by heaven. It would seem that out of all those angels, there would be more than just a handful who are truly good guys. I don’t think Cas is going to take it well when it’s finally revealed what Naomi is doing to him. And I don’t think the Winchesters are going to take it well either that heaven is manipulating Cas and, by extension, them again. I don’t think Cas is going to hide it from the Boys once he figures out what Naomi is doing to him. At least I hope he doesn’t. They have worked hard to rebuild the Winchesters’ and Cas’s friendship, and it would be awful if the Boys’ only other remaining friend gets taken away from them.

One thing I will say that I am absolutely ecstatic about is that the Sam/Amelia storyline seems to be done. I am REALLY glad that she’s gone and I hope she never comes back. I wanted to like Amelia. I really did. Supernatural has a history of writing some very awesome female characters, and I was looking for Amelia to fall into that category. Alas, she was a shallow, snarky, condescending person that added absolutely nothing to the Supernatural universe. She didn’t help reveal anything new about Sam’s character, and she seemed to serve only as a plot device to show what Sam was doing for the entire year and to create friction between Sam and Dean. Many in the fandom argue that a “normal” woman has no place in the Supernatural universe, and that’s a valid argument. But I feel like if the character is written well, even if she is a “normal” woman, she can still add something to the overall story. Amelia did not do that. At all. Her character actually slowed down the pace of every single episode she was in. I needed the Sam/Amelia storyline to better explain why Sam would ditch hunting for her. It didn’t. I needed the Sam/Amelia storyline to explain why Sam believes he loves her. It didn’t. I needed the Sam/Amelia storyline to explain how Amelia went from the snarky, condescending person that guilt-tripped Sam into taking a dog home to the woman that Sam would drop a job and go running to when she called. It didn’t. I needed to Sam/Amelia storyline to show me why I should care about Amelia at all. It didn’t. As a character, Amelia fell absolutely flat and I hope we never have to deal with her again.

From everything that I’ve said, it would sound like I really didn’t enjoy this episode. But that’s not true. I’m just disappointed that the Winchester world isn’t expanding. I’ve said this many times, but the main characters need really good, regular supporting characters. The supporting characters help to peel back the layers of the main characters, but only if they’re given enough time to develop a real relationship with the main characters. That’s why I loved Benny so much. We got enough time with him and Dean to really get a grasp of that relationship and reveal more about Dean. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Amelia. I really enjoyed the fact that the Winchester in-fighting seems to be over. I don’t think it’s completely done yet though because they haven’t really dealt with their problems. They have each agreed to let go of the thing that was causing the latest dust-up, but the underlying lack of communication is still there. Although I don’t like the fighting, at least it felt more organic to the story than some of the past Winchester fights. So there’s that at least. I still think there’s a big knock-down, drag-out fight to come, but maybe that’s just me. This episode just left me feeling sad for my Boys. I want them to truly fix their relationship and I want them to choose to continue fighting together because that’s what both of them want. I want them to realize that it’s ok to want different things out of life and wanting that doesn’t mean that you’ve abandoned your family or your responsibilities. I guess they’ve taken some steps down that road, but I still feel like there’s a long way to go yet.

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Supernatural 8.08 Review: Hunteri Hilarious

Hello my fellow Supernatural Junkies! I hope that everyone had a really nice Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. The only downside was, of course, no new Supernatural. So I was quite anxious for my favorite show to return this week, and it certainly came back with a bang. Literally. The word BANG! came out of Dean’s gun on flag. HA! ‘Hunteri Heroici’ was an extremely different episode, even for this show. One of the things I’ve always loved about Supernatural is their willingness to step outside the box and kind of push the boundaries. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This time, I think it worked wonderfully. I absolutely LOVED this episode. It had a perfect blend of humor (Cas interrogating a cat and then the cat calling him a dumbass; I mean c’mon, that’s hilarious!) and drama. I was kind of surprised that Andrew Dabb delivered such a wonderful episode because usually his (and Daniel Loflin’s) episodes are hit or miss. This was Dabb’s first solo writing credit on the show, and it was definitely a hit. He did a really good job with the pacing which is something that normally feels off about his and Loflin’s episodes. But kudos to him for writing a very good episode. That last fight at the bank alone was worth the price of admission. There were a lot of great things about this episode, but two things really jumped out at me.

First, the brief conversation between Dean and Cas was heartbreaking and wonderfully acted by Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins. It showed a different dynamic in the Dean/Cas relationship. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall Dean ever asking Cas to talk to him. I think Dean always kind of assumed that if Cas had something to say, he would just say it. But Dean above all others should know that’s not generally how people operate when they’re burdened with a metric ton of guilt. I don’t think Dean really understood until that conversation just how deeply Cas feels about what he did. And truth be told, no matter how many lives Cas saves or how much good he does going forward, I don’t think he’ll ever really forgive himself for what he did as God!Cas. I think it was important for him to verbalize his feelings though, and who else could he share his pain with other than Dean? Dean is not only Cas’s best friend, he’s also one of the few people that can truly understand doing something that you’re so ashamed of that you spend the rest of your life trying to atone for it. This conversation also showed a different side of Dean. For most of his life Dean has carried around so much guilt about things that aren’t his fault that he’s literally been crushed by it. Now, however, it seems that he’s taken Cas’s message of last week to heart. Dean might finally be beginning to understand and accept that every bad thing that happens isn’t his fault and it ain’t his to carry. He’s in a much better place emotionally to try to help Cas deal with his guilt over causing so much destruction. I really liked that when Cas opened up to Dean, Dean didn’t try to offer solutions or words of wisdom to Cas; he just listened. Sometimes that’s all you really need your friends to do; just listen.

Second, that ending. I’ve heard the theory floating around on the internet that Sam’s past year is all an illusion because he suffered a complete mental break after Dean disappeared. Prior to last night’s episode, I didn’t really give any thought to that because it seemed a bit far-fetched (even for this show). However, there are several things about this episode that I think may lend some credence to that theory. (1)Sam seemed to know way too much about taking refuge inside your own mind. I don’t think it had anything to do with his hellucinations because those were most certainly not pleasant for him. But he seemed really happy with Amelia and it seems that he felt safe. That is what Sam always wanted. Going all the way back to the Pilot, Sam never said he wanted normal; he wanted safe. That’s what he had with Amelia. Sam seemed to truly understand why Fred would want to stay in the safe world he created in his head perhaps because that’s what Sam had done? (2)The conversation that Sam had with Amelia’s father seemed rather odd. It seemed more than just a concerned father looking out for his daughter. It seemed like someone (or something) was telling Sam that hiding there wasn’t going to help him. The father seemed too, I don’t know, on the nose. (3)The way that Don all of a sudden turned up not dead. If the theory is correct that Amelia and all of that isn’t real, then when she said that “Don” wasn’t dead, that could’ve been Sam’s mind saying that “Dean” isn’t dead. But if that’s the case, how would Sam, even subconsciously, know that? Someone (or something) would have to tell him. Which leads me to my (current) theory.

Perhaps the angels did infiltrate Sam’s mind. If we go with the theory that Sam did indeed suffer a total mental break, then he would’ve been out of commission, and judging from Naomi’s interest in Sam and Dean’s quest for the tablets, she needed him back in the game. To what end, I’m not sure yet. But perhaps the angels infiltrated his mind in a different way. What if Sam didn’t actually break? What if he did actually have that time with Amelia, but it was all an angelic creation? We’ve seen the angels totally create a reality for the Boys before in S4 ‘It’s a Terrible Life.’ In that reality they had memories that were obviously not real. Zachariah was also a part of that false reality. He was playing a role and waiting for the right moment to reveal the truth to Dean. And although we don’t know the extent of Naomi’s abilities, we’ve seen that she can manipulate Castiel’s mind and memories, so why wouldn’t she be able to do that to Sam as well? It would explain how, if Sam had really suffered a mental break and was hiding out in his head, she would be able to tell him that Dean is alive. It would also explain why Amelia’s dad was so stuck on Sam and Amelia not living in a dream world. But if Naomi did infiltrate Sam’s mind at that time and plant those memories, the question still remains why? What’s the endgame? That ending also raised more questions: If Sam did not actually break, why plant the memories of that year at all? How much time elapsed between Amelia finding out that Don wasn’t dead and Sam leaving? Why did Sam leave like that? Who was that outside the house? So many questions!

I really want to find out whether Sam’s past year is all straightforward or whether there is something a bit more nefarious going on here. Jeremy Carver did say that we were going to be playing with perception this year, and we’ve already seen that Dean’s perception of his Purgatory escape was very skewed. Maybe Sam’s perception of his past year is also just as skewed. We’ll just have to wait to find out. One thing I did appreciate about the Sam/Amelia flashbacks is that Amelia seemed MUCH less bitchy than she has in the past. She was much more relateable. I still don’t think Lianne Balaban and Jared Padalecki have all that much chemistry though. It was better than in past flashbacks, but still kind of meh. Like I said though, LOVED this episode. I can’t believe we’re already almost to the mid-season hiatus, but I am loving S8 so far.

Supernatural 8.07 Review: Feels Like Old Times

It’s fairly rare for a show to stay on the air long enough for fans to be able to say that an episode feels like a “classic” episode, but that’s exactly what this felt like. Classic Supernatural. Team Free Will got back together to hunt demons and save people. Loved it! We jumped back into the mythology after a few weeks of MOTW episodes. Everyone involved did a fantastic job, but this was really the Dean and Cas show. Some people have complained that Castiel (and all the angels) have overstayed their welcome, but Jeremy Carver has found a fantastic way to organically weave them back into the story without overshadowing Sam and Dean’s journey. I really loved “A Little Slice of Kevin,” so without further fanfare, here are my thoughts:

The stuff with Kevin and Mrs. Tran kind of annoyed me. It reinforced just how stupid it was for Kevin to ditch the Winchesters. I understand he was upset that Dean was about to kill his mother, and sure, take a few days. But to continue running didn’t make sense. Especially after witnessing just how outmatched he was. He may have been able to survive ok during the year that the Winchesters were MIA, but he didn’t have an overbearing, inexperienced mother tagging along causing trouble. The Trans barely know enough to protective themselves and even that was just book, or in this case tablet, knowledge. They didn’t know or understand the practicalities of living on the run. If Kevin and Mrs. Tran knew anything, they would’ve known not to trust anyone; especially a witch. It just goes to show that civilians don’t belong in the hunting world and they most certainly shouldn’t run off on the only people who can keep them alive.  I found it amusing that they’ve spent all this time running from the Winchesters, but when the inevitable happened, who did they call?

I said after the season premiere that I figured we were going to such a much darker, more sinister Crowley this season. Looks like I was right. Not only was Crowley torturing angels and kidnapping people; he was indiscriminately killing innocent people. Crowley has, up to this point, been bad, but he’s never really been evil. Crowley has been trying to be the Big Bad almost the entire time he’s been on the scene, but up until now, he’s never struck me as big bad material. This time though he’s got a powerful desire to ensure that the Winchesters do not achieve their goal. So yeah. He’s stepped up his game, and it makes sense that he’d pull out all the stops. He needs those tablets and he needs Kevin. Or rather, he needs a prophet. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Kevin. And if Kevin and his mother decide to be stupid again, it won’t be Kevin. It will be the next prophet in line.

Now on to the real meat and potatoes of this episode: Dean and Cas. I was very excited to see Cas back. At the end of ‘What’s Up Tiger Mommy’ when we saw Cas’s hand supposedly slip from Dean’s grip, I said that perhaps the portal sucked Dean through and pushed Cas back. Well, I was half right. The portal did suck Dean through. After Cas shoved him in and intentionally let go of Dean’s hand. One of the hopes I said I had for season 8 is that Dean and Cas would have the opportunity to repair their relationship. Consider their relationship repaired. Dean sliced, diced, and clawed his way through Purgatory to find his friend,  and Cas fought and clawed his way through Purgatory to make sure that his friend got out. If that ain’t love for your family then I don’t know what is. It’s further proof that it doesn’t matter what family does to each other. At the end of the day, you’re family. And the love you have for each other transcends any wrongs (actual or imagined) that you’ve done to each other. That’s Dean and Cas’ story. It all makes sense now why Dean has been so cagey about how he escaped from Purgatory. It had nothing to do with him partnering with Benny. It had everything to do with how guilty he felt that Cas got left behind. He’s been shouldering that weight the whole time he’s been back, and I can see him not wanting to talk about it with Sam. Or anyone else for that matter. He felt like a failure yet again, and those feelings of grief and guilt clouded his memory of what really happened during that Purgatory escape. I really loved how Cas handled that. He let Dean remember what really happened and then he (rightfully) pointed out that blame doesn’t always have to be assessed. People can make choices and although we may not comprehend or agree with the choices our loved ones make, those choices are theirs to make. That’s something I don’t think Dean is ever going to be able to grasp. He’s always had so much heaped upon his shoulders that I don’t think he knows any other way to relate other than to blame himself whenever things go sideways. Cas’s quiet words to Dean were meant to absolve Dean from guilt and let him see that everything doesn’t always rest on his shoulders. It made perfect sense that Cas would choose to remain in Purgatory to atone for his sins. And although Cas said he didn’t know how to tell Dean that he was staying, I think it was more than that. After Dean found Cas down by the river, Dean made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t leaving Purgatory without Cas. Cas knew that if he had told Dean he was going to stay, Dean would’ve stayed too and he didn’t want that for Dean. Jensen and Misha, once again, knocked it completely out of the park. Excellent work by both of them.  Just as an aside, I really love how Purgatory was shot. It was very gray, like all of the color had been drained from the world. Kind of reminds me of the opening credits to Tales from the Darkside.

I really like where Sam and Dean’s relationship was this week. After last week’s explosion, it was nice to see Sam support Dean when he really needed it. I think Sam has learned that he can’t push Dean to talk about things, but that doesn’t mean that Sam doesn’t want Dean to talk. It’s just now he understands that he’s got to let Dean come to it in his own time. I was kind of surprised that Dean came clean so quickly about seeing what he thought were hallucinations of Cas. I suppose he was just feeling so much guilt about it that he had to unload. The moment when Dean thought he saw Cas outside their hotel room was perfectly played by Ackles and Padalecki. Sam more than anyone can understand survivor’s guilt and hallucinations. So he when told Dean that he needed to let go of that guilt, Sam was coming from a place of total understanding. It was a bit different from the moment after Cas returned. It was very brief, but the look that Sam gave Dean when Dean was talking to Cas about their Purgatory escape tells me that Sam truly has no idea what Dean went through down there. Purgatory is not like Hell, so even though Sam may be able to empathize, he will never truly understand. That creates a problem because that also means he will never be able to truly understand the bond that Dean and Benny formed in Purgatory.

I’m very interested in this new angel we saw. She looks like she might be the head of the Angelic CIA. No one knows they exist and they just snatch people up whenever they want. I don’t know what kind of control/power she’s able to exert over Cas, but hopefully it won’t lead him to betray the Winchesters again. He and Dean just fixed their friendship gosh darn it! But I would like to know why she is so interested in the Winchesters’ movements. Why are they so important to her? If she’s powerful enough to make Cas forget their meetings, why doesn’t she do her own spying? If she holds true to form with the other angels, whatever she has up her sleeve for the Winchesters is probably not good at all.

This was a fantastic episode and just what I need to sustain me through the Thanksgiving break. I love the fact that Carver has introduced a compendium of tablets. It stands to reason that if there’s one about leviathans and one about demons, there’s one for every creature on the face of the earth. Which would explain why the angels are desperate to make sure they get the tablet about angels. It would also mean that if the Boys can find all the tablets, they can banish all the evil creepy crawlies from earth forever. After all, the tablets do say that they are “for the protection of mankind.” Plus, having all those tablets all over the world sets up a great springboard for another couple of seasons. Excellent episode and excellent work by everyone involved.

Supernatural 8.06: Communication Failure

I don’t care what anyone says, I am thoroughly enjoying Supernatural’s eighth season. I have always liked the MOTW format, so I really dig that we’re getting back to that. I have also said that Supernatural works best when Sam and Dean’s relationship is the focus of the season, and I think it is certainly the focus this season. However, one of the side effects of the Boys relationship being front and center is that the Supernatural family becomes very, um, vocal about how each character is being written. Inevitably Samgirls feel like Sam is being demonized; Deangirls feel like Dean is being demonized; Casgirls feel like nobody respects the profound bond that he and Dean share; and Bobbygirls just sob because they miss Bobby so much. I can’t blame the Bobbygirls on that one actually. At any rate, let me be clear: I am not a Samgirl, Deangirl, Casgirl, or Bobbygirl. I am a Supernaturalgirl. I love all of these characters and I think they each add something to this story. That being said, there are a few things I want to mention about “Southern Comfort.”

Supernatural has the tendency to hit the audience over the head with the Boys’ issues by having their case of the week directly deal with whatever is bugging the brothers this week. Some people have a problem with this, but I don’t. I think sometimes life works out that way, so I don’t mind it working that way in the Supernatural universe. I especially don’t mind it when the case/monster/whatever is engaging which this spectre was. The only thing I didn’t particularly care for regarding the case was showing us how the possessed penny got from the Confederate soldier’s grave into Dean’s hand. Once they told us it was the penny, it doesn’t really matter how it got passed from person to person. It only matters that it got passed around and, believe it or not, I think we’re smart enough to figure out how it got from point A to point B. Another little issue I have is the soap opera stares off into the distance every time Sam flashes back to his time with Amelia (who I’ll discuss in a minute). I don’t know if they intended those scenes to be as hilarious as I find them, but they need to just stop. The transitions are much more effective when one of the characters walks toward the camera and we disappear into a flashback. For example, in “Blood Brother” after Dean takes out a vampire in the hallway, he walks toward the camera until he blocks the shot and that’s the transition into a Purgatory flashback. Much more effective and much less comical. Speaking of Sam…

I’m…confused about Sam. On the one hand, I can understand why Sam ran. Dean is the rock that Sam leans on. With all the loss the Winchesters have suffered over the years, Dean was always there to hold Sam up and vise versa. After Dean disappeared at the end of last season, the earth shifted out from under Sam’s feet. The one constant in his life was gone to parts unknown. He had no one left. So yeah. He ran. Sam has always dealt with things (or rather doesn’t deal with them) by running away, so his explanation here that that’s why he ran makes sense. It’s true to Sam’s character. What doesn’t make sense is how Sam doesn’t understand why Dean won’t kill Benny. During that first conversation about Benny, Sam said he understood that Dean had to team up with Benny to survive Purgatory but now that they’re topside and Dean doesn’t need Benny anymore he should’ve killed him. That’s just not the way Dean operates. It’s never been the way Dean operates, and Sam should know that. One of my favorite characteristics about Dean is his loyalty, and that’s not something he just hands out like Halloween candy. Once you’ve earned it, he will move heaven and earth for you. Dean is right that Sam can’t possibly understand Purgatory. It’s not like Hell. It’s not like being stuck in the cage. Purgatory is its own experience, and it’s an experience that Dean and Benny shared. Benny is, for the moment at least, the only person topside that can truly understand what Dean went through in Purgatory. I honestly don’t understand how Sam can’t recognize that. Furthermore, Sam comparing Benny to Amy isn’t a fair comparison. Benny hasn’t killed any people. He’s drinking donated blood to survive. Amy, on the other hand, had killed 4 people. I’ve always believed that Dean made the right call on Amy, and Sam just threw that in Dean’s face because he’s angry about Dean lying to him. As far as Sam knows, Benny hasn’t done anything to anyone so why is he so gung ho to kill him?

Dean has so many pent up emotions I’m surprised that he hasn’t given himself an ulcer by now. He never really confronts his feelings so much as he pushes them to the side so he can keep going. Since he never confronts them, he’s never able to work through/get past them. So even when he says that he’s over something, he’s really not because all he’s done is put a pin in it. So in this episode when he got possessed and unloaded on Sam, that was years of feelings of betrayal, disappointment, resentment, and anger coming out of him. Everything Dean said needed to be said, but it was still painful to watch him hurt Sam like that. Everything that Dean said was true (with the exception of the stuff from when Sam was soulless) and it’s stuff that he really should’ve said a long time ago. Sam and Dean’s biggest problem is that they really do not communicate. They talk AT each other instead of TO each other which leaves each of them feeling like their voice hasn’t been heard. So nothing gets worked out because they haven’t ever really talked about it. It also doesn’t help that every time they get into an argument, Sam threatens to leave Dean. He knows that’s Dean’s greatest fear, and he regularly uses it to make Dean fall in line. So whether Dean is in the wrong or not (and he wasn’t wrong here), he apologizes so Sam won’t leave. I also thought that Sam’s threat to kill Benny was completely unnecessary and it was his effort to “win” their argument. It doesn’t make sense to me that Sam would set up a situation where Dean has to choose between him and Benny. Especially when he knows that he’s been the center of Dean’s universe their whole lives. Something that struck me about that scene was Dean’s reaction to Sam’s threat. Dean gave him the ice cold stare that he usually only reserves for monsters and other creepy crawlies. I don’t recall ever seeing Dean look at Sam that way, and I’m not entirely sure what it means yet but it can’t be good.

Now let’s talk about Garth. Some folks don’t like his character, but I love Garth. I didn’t love the episode in which he was introduced. As a matter of fact, I’m still trying to pretend that S7, TFAW didn’t actually happen. But I digress. I liked Garth from the beginning. He’s an efficient enough hunter (as evidenced by the fact that he’s still alive), but he’s also extremely adorkable and hilarious. Introducing him as the “new Bobby” was a bold step to take. And it worked for me. We learned from S6 “Weekend at Bobby’s” just how much the entire hunting community depended on Bobby, so it stands to reason that his death (*sob*) would leave a massive void. Just as an aside, one thing SPN hasn’t ever really done is show us just how broad the scope of the hunting community is. But the fact that Bobby was obviously the go-to guy for most of them lets us see just how important he was. But anyways. Back to “Southern Comfort.” When I first heard that Garth was going to be the “new Bobby” I was concerned because you can’t just replace Bobby. However, after watching this episode I realize that Garth isn’t the new Bobby. Garth is still Garth. He’s just the guy who stepped up to the plate when no one else would. Why? Because that’s what Bobby would’ve done. He had a lot of respect for Bobby and, in his own way, he’s trying to honor Bobby’s memory. Garth picking up Bobby’s job and catchphrases is much like Dean dressing and talking like John. I can totally understand the Boys’ (especially Dean’s) reaction to Garth’s new job responsibilities, but I really liked that Garth reminded Dean that he and Sam weren’t the only ones who lost Bobby. If Dean had had time to properly mourn for Bobby, maybe he wouldn’t have been quite so hostile toward Garth. Ok. Maybe he would have because he’s Dean, but the fact remains that Dean hasn’t really had time to properly grieve Bobby whatwith going to Purgatory and all. But I don’t think he’s ever considered that other hunters might miss Bobby just as much as he does. I like that Garth is now the hunter giving out advice and I really like DJ Qualls’ chemistry with Jensen and Jared. Also, I have been saying for years that the Supernatural universe needs to be repopulated, so it’s nice to have a recurring character show up from time to time.

Now on to Amelia. You know, I am really trying to like her. I mean I REALLY am, but the writers aren’t giving me much to work with. Last week, they did an ok job of softening her for me. They gave her a little depth, but even then she came off as kind of self-righteous. This episode didn’t do anything to quash those thoughts. It’s totally understandable that she would want to leave the place and the people the reminded her of her dead husband. But what I didn’t get was her hostility toward Sam after they slept together and she told him about her loss. Before Sam could say or do anything, she jumped on him about pitying her even though he wasn’t. Empathy and pity aren’t the same thing and he was empathizing with her because he truly understood what she was going through. Then when Sam came back and tried to explain to her that he didn’t pity her, she snarkily said that now she pitied him. Once again she came across as mean-spirited and self-righteous. Very unlikable. And because Amelia is so unlikable, that made the Sam/Amelia flashback parts of the episode tedious. My friend Katrina suggests I just give Amelia a little more time to grow on me, and I’m trying. But unless there are drastic changes in her character, she’s going solidly in the ‘don’t like her’ category.

Despite my couple of nitpicks, I enjoyed “Southern Comfort.” I have enjoyed season 8 thus far. As much as I hate to see my Winchester boys fight, they absolutely needed to. And unlike the Amy storyline from last season, I feel like this conflict is organic to the story and makes some sort of sense given everything they’ve gone through. All in all, very solid episode.