Supernatural 8.09 Review: The Lies that Bind

SPN Citizen Fang

Supernatural is in the habit of having powerful, game-changing mid-season cliffhangers and ‘Citizen Fang’ was no exception. Usually the mid-season finale packs an emotional gut-punch, but this felt more like an emotional right cross. Many of the Boys issues were brought to a head, and I think this episode left them in a great position to really, finally deal with all the crap that they’ve been sweeping under the rug for the past 7 seasons. Daniel Loflin delivered an emotionally heavy, taut 42 minutes of television that left me yelling at my tv as the credits rolled. This episode marks Loflin’s first solo writing credit on the show, and I must say that he did a fantastic job. I’m beginning to think that he and Andrew Dabb should write separately from now on because their solo outings have been far and away better than their joint efforts. There weren’t many of the pacing problems that usually plague their episodes and the story felt like it unfolded in a fairly organic way. There’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s get to it.

Let’s talk about Amelia first. I can sympathize with the very difficult decision Amelia was confronted with in this episode. Love triangles are never fun because someone always ends up getting hurt. But even so, the flashbacks still didn’t work for me. They felt out of place and slowed down the pace of the episode. I think maybe I would’ve enjoyed the flashbacks more if they weren’t so melodramatic and if I felt like Sam and Amelia had real chemistry. As it stands, I don’t see any spark between them much less a flame. Sam said that Amelia saved him, but how? How did Amelia go from the bitchy vet giving Sam grief about accidentally running over a dog to the woman that Sam wanted to settle down with? That transition has yet to be fully explored and as such, I’m not really invested in that (major) part of Sam’s journey this season. Also, I’m not entirely sure what Don was expecting. As far as Amelia knew, he was dead. Was she supposed to sit around in mourning for the rest of her life? Was she not supposed to grieve for him and move on? For all his talk about wanting to put Amelia’s best interests first, he seemed pretty selfish to me.

Now let’s talk about Benny. I liked Benny when he was first introduced in the season premiere. I fell in deeper like with him after we got some of his backstory in ‘Blood Brother.’ But I fell in love with him in this episode. Benny is the physical manifestation of the conflict that rages in all of us. At his core, he’s a decent guy just trying to find his place in the world. He doesn’t want to make waves for anyone and he wants to have a place he can call home. Those feelings and that nature are in direct conflict with the monster that rages inside him. He works hard to control those urges. He knows that he has to walk a fine line, but he had found people to help him fight the good fight and stay on the straight and narrow. Isn’t that what we all try to do? One of the things I loved about Benny’s conversations with Dean was how completely forthcoming he was. He admitted that it’s not easy to control the thirst, but he fights against it anyway. Many folks have made mention of the act that the Dean/Benny relationship mirrors the Sam/Ruby relationship. In some respects, that’s true. But the primary difference is the honesty of the monster involved. Everything that we’ve seen of Benny thus far has shown that he is on the up and up. He never lied to Dean in Purgatory (as far as we know) and he hasn’t lied since they’ve been out. Ruby, on the other hand, lied to Sam from the get go. And she never stopped lying to him. Benny has proven himself to be exactly what he claims to be. It was heartbreaking to see the pain and resignation on Benny’s face as he offered himself up as a sacrifice to save Elizabeth. Martin taking Elizabeth hostage was particularly cruel because it was more than just getting Benny to come back so he could kill him. After Martin realized that Elizabeth had no idea Benny was a vampire, Martin wanted to make sure he showed her what Benny is. He wanted to kill any hope Benny had of being able to go back to Elizabeth. Martin wasn’t just trying to kill Benny; he was trying to destroy him.

On that topic, I’m not entirely sure that Benny’s the one that killed Martin. The knife that Martin was holding to Elizabeth’s throat was bloody, much bloodier than it would’ve been from the cut Martin gave her. And I couldn’t really tell if those were vamp bite marks or a knife slit on his throat. I think Elizabeth killed Martin to keep him from killing Benny. I’d like to hear what actually went down, but that’s my working theory for now. Martin crossed the line when he took Elizabeth hostage and I got a flashback to Gordon Walker. One of the things I’ve always said about Gordon is that he was a monster long before he got turned into a vampire. The same looks to be true of Martin. He didn’t care that Benny wasn’t hurting anyone. He wanted to kill Benny solely because he is a vampire. That’s not hunting evil. That’s murder. Furthermore, Martin (and Sam) didn’t even consider the possibility that there was another vampire doing the killing. They had already made up their minds that it was Benny, and quite frankly, Dean could’ve brought the other vampire’s head to them on a stick and they wouldn’t have listened. Martin kept saying that the evidence was staring Dean in the face, but the truth of it is, Martin’s evidence was circumstantial at best. It didn’t add up to the person Dean knows Benny to be and it didn’t add up with the life Benny was living when Martin found him in Louisiana. To me, Martin was the true monster here. He’s supposed to protect civilians, not take them hostage and use them as bait. Martin’s bloodlust was just as strong as Benny’s.

Although I believe Elizabeth killed Martin, it presents a rather interesting problem if Benny is the one that killed him. One of the reasons I agreed with Dean killing Amy last season was that she was actually killing people. I understand she had a very good reason for doing so, but she was killing people nonetheless. If Benny killed Martin to save Elizabeth, does that mean he gets a pass? We forgive humans for killing other humans to spare the lives of their loved ones, but does that same excuse apply to monsters? If Benny killed Martin just to save Elizabeth, does that mean that Benny won’t kill again? What about the next time Elizabeth (or someone else Benny cares about) gets into a sticky situation? But does Benny deserve to die because he’s a monster killing a human in self-defense (or, more accurately, in defense of others)? What about when Dean killed Jeffery in S7 ‘Repo Man’? That was to protect others, but Dean gets a pass because it was a human killing a human? I’m conflicted and I think that’s what the Amy situation tried (unsuccessfully) to accomplish last season. This time around though, we have a truly sympathetic, well-fleshed out monster (fantastically portrayed by Ty Olsson) that was put in a no win situation. We were given enough time with Benny to form an opinion about him and understand how he feels and what he thinks. That puts us in Dean’s shoes when it comes to whether to kill Benny or not. It raises a lot of sticky questions and puts the answer solidly in the grey area.

Now let’s talk about Sam. I’m even more confused by Sam now than I have been all season. What follows may sound like Sam-bashing, but I assure you it is not. So please, Samgirls, exercise restraint. Here goes…I do not understand how Sam can be so indignant about Dean trusting Benny and saying that Benny is the only one who has never let him down. That is a true statement from Dean’s perspective. Sam knows that he let Dean down in a massive way when he chose Ruby in S4. He also knows that Dean feels let down by the fact that Sam didn’t search for him at all while he was in Purgatory. While the not looking for him in Purgatory thing is a bit murky at the moment, the Ruby thing is not. Sam had a choice between Dean and Ruby, and Sam chose Ruby. Dean even told him in the S5 premiere that he’d (Sam) had let him down in ways he couldn’t even verbalize. So the fact that Dean feels let down should not come as a great shock to Sam. But that comment wasn’t even about Sam. Not really. Dean was trying to communicate how he feels and why he has so much faith in Benny. I do not understand how Sam took a statement that, quite frankly, was not about him and turned it into an indictment against Dean for saying Benny has never let him down. Sam does not understand the bond Dean and Benny formed, and I don’t think he even wants to understand it. He’s decided that Benny is bad despite all evidence to the contrary.

When Dean tried to tell Sam what happened with Martin, Sam’s response was, “I know what happened.” And that’s the crux of the problem. Sam has decided that he already knows everything he needs to know about Benny. He’s already decided that he knows how and why Dean and Benny forged such a strong bond in Purgatory. He’s already decided that Dean is the one making a mistake here. But how could he know any of that? He wasn’t in Purgatory. And aside from asking Dean what Purgatory was like in the season premiere, Sam hasn’t even talked to Dean about Purgatory. Sam’s mind was totally closed to anything Dean had to say about Benny. That was evident throughout the episode. Sam had Martin tracking Benny, but why not have him track Kate the werewolf? Benny, like Kate, hadn’t killed anyone as far as they knew. Kate was just off into the sunset to try and control her hunger. Why was Benny the priority? This wasn’t about Benny at all. This was about Sam and his lack of faith in Dean. When Sam asked whether Dean was willing to risk innocent lives on his trust in Benny and Dean said yes, that should’ve given Sam pause. Because although he doesn’t know Benny, Sam does know Dean. He knows that Dean doesn’t just hand out his trust and loyalty like Halloween candy. Sam has to know, or rather he SHOULD know, that if Benny has earned this kind of trust from Dean, that Benny isn’t all bad. Sam seems to want to go after Benny more because he’s jealous than because of anything Benny has actually done. Sam is so upset that Dean trusts Benny so much that he can’t see how totally hypocritical he’s being. He was ready to go kill Benny off of Martin’s intel which was lacking in actual facts. Why? How was Crazy Martin more reliable than Dean? Sam was talking about how clouded Dean’s judgment was, but in truth, his judgment was just as clouded. Although I admit it was a low blow for Dean to use Amelia to get Sam to back off for a little bit, I don’t see what else he could’ve done. He tried talking to him; Sam refused to listen. He tried presenting evidence that something else was responsible for the killings; Sam wouldn’t see it. It was either misdirect Sam or Sam was going to kill Benny. I don’t see as Dean had another choice. This was not about Dean choosing Benny over Sam either. This was Dean trying to protect both Sam and Benny.

The true problem here is the total breakdown of communication between these brothers. Laura Prudom over at Huffington Post wrote a fantastic review of this episode (which you can find here) detailing the various communications failures and insecurities that have led the Winchester boys to this point. Sam seems to want Dean to just let it go that he (Sam) has let him (Dean) down in the past. But since Dean has historically pushed his feelings to the side, he can’t just let it go because he hasn’t really dealt with it. One of the primary aspects of Dean’s personality is how hard he takes it when people that he trusts betray him. If it didn’t take Dean so long to trust people and let them in, then I don’t think he’d take it as hard when they disappoint him. It’s especially true in Sam’s case. Sam has been the center of Dean’s universe his whole life. Dean has trusted Sam and stood by him even when Sam had no right to ask Dean to do so. So for Sam to make some of the choices he’s made regarding Dean, it makes sense for Dean to feel let down and abandoned. You can’t count the time that Sam was soulless though because I don’t really count that as being Sam. But Dean is totally justified in feeling let down about Sam choosing Ruby in S4 and about Sam not looking for him while he was in Purgatory. One thing that definitely needs to happen (but probably won’t because it’s not really the Winchester way) is that they need to really talk to and listen to each other. Sam hasn’t really made any effort to try to understand how and why Dean trusts Benny so completely. He just assumes he knows. Dean hasn’t really made any effort to try to understand how and why Amelia means so much to Sam and how his disappearance affected Sam. Both of them are talking without saying anything and they certainly aren’t listening with an open mind. They talk AT each other instead of TO each other which leaves both of them feeling like their voice has not been heard. They never really deal with any of the issues that have snowballed over the years, and that gets us to where we are now. Part of the reason that all of this stuff happened was that Sam didn’t trust Dean’s judgment about Benny. If he hadn’t sent Martin to Louisiana, Benny most likely would’ve handled the rogue vamp and gone about his merry way living quietly with his great-granddaughter. If Dean had trusted Sam a bit more, then maybe he could’ve taken Sam with him when he went to investigate what happened with the killings. Then Sam could’ve seen Benny for himself and he would’ve had more of an opportunity to form his own opinion about him.

My few nitpicks aside, this was a fantastic mid-season finale. It brought all of the issues that have been simmering under the surface to a boil and laid the groundwork for some real growth and maturing in the Boys. I don’t think Sam and Dean are ever going to have the same worldview and I doubt they’re ever going to completely understand each other. But I do think it’s possible for them to get to a place where they respect each other as individuals and learn what they should’ve learned in kindergarten: honesty is the best policy. I am loving S8 thus far and I’m excited to see what Jeremy Carver and Co. have in store for us for the second half of the season. I’m pretty bummed that we have to wait all the way until mid-January to see the fallout from everything that happened in ‘Citizen Fang’ though. Curse you hellatus!

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.

SPN 8.04 Review: Supernatural meets The Blair Witch Project

Hello my fellow Supernatural Junkies. Tonight’s episode of Supernatural was unconventional (even for this show), and I didn’t really care for it. Thus, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Bitten certainly won’t top my list of favorite SPN episodes, but it wasn’t the worst either (Bugs still holds that distinction). There was no development on the season long mytharc or on the Boys’ relationship, but I’m ok with that for now. If we were 12 or 13 episodes into the season and did an episode like this, I would be pretty pissed. But this episode came early enough that it’s alright that it didn’t deal with major story arcs and didn’t feature a whole lot of the Winchesters. There are, however, a few things I want to point out.

This is not the first time that Supernatural has played with the form of the show. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Supernatural is their willingness to experiment with storytelling. It keeps things interesting and it allows for some artistic freedom.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I have never liked films shot on handheld cams or that “found footage” crap. I hated The Blair Witch Project and I actively avoided Chronicle and all of those Paranormal Activity movies. I am just not a fan of that style of film making. That being said, “Ghostfacers” from season 3 was shot almost exactly like this episode, but I actually enjoyed “Ghostfacers.” After thinking about it for a little bit, I’ve concluded that I liked “Ghostfacers” better because I enjoyed those characters much more. They were interesting and at times downright funny. I was much more engaged in that story and more invested in those character outcomes. I cannot say the same for “Bitten.” It wasn’t the acting. The actors did just fine. It was how shallow, boring, and generic the characters were. I didn’t care about Michael and Kate’s lovefest. I didn’t care that Brian was jealous. I just didn’t care about them at all. And if I’m going to watch an episode in which the Winchesters are almost totally absent, I want the characters to be much more interesting than these kids were.

When speaking about superheroes and supervillains, my father always says that heroes were heroes long before they became super and likewise villains were always villains. Receiving the power simply revealed what they were already. That’s something this episode touched on. Brian wanted to be bitten because he wanted to feel power. He wanted to get the girl. He wanted to be the big man. He wanted to step out of his friend’s shadow. He was jealous, insecure and angry before he got bitten. The bite didn’t change that. It simply amplified those feelings which resulted in him killing the only real friend he had. Supernatural has kind of dealt with this concept before, but it was in such a controversial episode (yes, I’m looking at you Amy in “The Girl Next Door”) that I think people lost the message. A clearer illustration of this point is Gordon Walker from “Fresh Blood” back in season 3. When Dean tried to reason with Gordon after he got turned into a vampire, Gordon responded, “No. I’m a monster.” I don’t think even he knew just how true those words were. The truth is, Gordon was a monster long before he got turned into a vampire. He killed because he liked it. If he saved a few people in the process, that was fine. But he was really in it for the thrill of the kill. Getting turned into a vampire simply gave him an excuse to do what came naturally to him. People are what they are. And the power doesn’t change that.

Supernatural has never been a show to shy away from the grey areas, and there was a pretty big one here. On the one hand, Kate is a monster. She’s a werewolf. And if history has taught us anything on Supernatural, she’s going to kill someone. Or maybe even a bunch of someones before a hunter stops her. On the other hand, one of the lessons from “Bloodlust” in S2 was that just because something isn’t human doesn’t necessarily mean that its evil i.e. Lenore. At the end of that episode, Dean began to question whether he’d been killing things that didn’t deserve killing simply because they weren’t human. He ponders that here too. Dean is a guy that, historically, doesn’t deal in shades of grey and he also adheres to a very strict code. Dean’s code says that as long as you aren’t killing humans, you’re not evil and he’s gonna let you be. That’s the conclusion he reached here. Technically, Kate is a monster and somewhere down the road, she may kill someone. But right here, right now she hadn’t killed anyone. So they let her go. I think there are valid arguments both for going after her to kill her now and for letting her go and try to survive on animals. But in this instance, I think the Boys made the right call.

Well, that’s pretty much it folks. Like I said before, this episode won’t top my list of must-rewatch. But I appreciate Supernatural’s willingness to experiment with form and push the envelope. I’m REALLY looking forward to getting back into some Purgatory stuff next week. And I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen when Sam meets Benny. So until next time Junkies, peace, love, and joy to all.

SPN Season 8 Premiere: My Thoughts

 

Now THAT is what I call a season premiere! Sweet merciful awesome! I was a little (ok, A LOT) bummed that SPN wasn’t coming back until October, but this was very much worth the wait. It looks like Jeremy Carver and Co. have some really great things in store for us this season. But before I get ahead of myself, here are my thoughts (this might get a little long b/c I LOVED the premiere):

1. Holy goodness, Dean Winchester! For the last couple of seasons, Dean has been floundering. He’s been wallowing in depression and despair; drinking so much that I got cirrhosis just watching; and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He lacked focus and purpose. Losing Cas and Bobby just made the situation worse. It seems like Purgatory has cured Dean of what ailed him. The Dean Winchester we saw last night was clear about who he is and why he’s here. He’s found his purpose again. That’s not to say that whatever happened in Purgatory isn’t having a profound effect on him. I wasn’t at all surprised that Dean grew to basically like Purgatory. He’s always had a lot of darkness in him, but he works very hard to keep that in check. When he went to Hell, he gave in to those darker natures and tortured other souls. This situation is kind of the same. He’s in a hostile environment and he’s got to do what he’s got to do to survive. He had to nurture that darkness that makes him such a skilled hunter topside in order to survive down there. Unlike Hell, however, Dean doesn’t feel guilty about killing things in Purgatory. He not only feels justified, he feels good about it. However, I think total reintegration into society is going to be difficult for him. He doesn’t have to continually be on alert the way he was in Purgatory, and it’s going to take some time for him to smooth out the rough edges he developed down there. Just as an aside, Jensen Ackles did a fantastic job of conveying Dean’s PTSD. He was jittery and on edge throughout the whole episode. Ackles is such a master of non-verbal communication.

2. I am very intrigued by the Dean/Benny relationship. On the one hand, I can totally see Dean looking at Benny as a comrade in arms. Dean was all alone in Purgatory and Benny stepped in to have his back. But on the other hand, Dean should know from experience that monsters/demons never change their colors. They are what they are. Aside from that, I kind of liked Benny. I don’t trust him very much, but he does look like he’ll be an interesting addition to the Winchester universe. Could he be Dean’s Ruby? I’m looking forward to watching this storyline unfold. I want to find out how exactly Dean’s relationship with Benny developed and how it’s going to affect his relationship with Sam. Speaking of Sam…

3. There are a lot of folks who are pretty upset with how Sam was characterized in this episode. But I think Sam made a reasonable choice that was completely in character for him. Sam has always wanted a normal life. I think he wanted it even more than Dean because he (Sam) never had it. Back in Season 5, Sam kind of reluctantly accepted the fact that he was never going to have normal, but at least he still had his family. At the end of S7, Sam had absolutely no one. Dean and Cas disappeared. Bobby was dead. Crowley took Kevin. Ellen and Jo are dead. Rufus is dead. He had absolutely no one and nothing. One of the things S7 made abundantly clear is that Dean kept going for Sam, and Sam kept going for Dean. Dean was gone. Why would Sam keep going? For all he knew, Dean and Cas died when Dick exploded. If they were in Heaven, was he supposed to pull them back? Where was he to start? Who was he to call? How was he to know that non-monsters could even end up in Purgatory? Was he supposed to just drive himself insane (again) grasping at straws? Sam was alone, lost, scared, and filled with grief. If he had kept hunting in that state, he would not have lasted very long. Hitting that dog and finding someone to help him find his center again saved Sam. I don’t think he would’ve survived otherwise. And after all the sacrifices he’s made and the loss that he’s endured, I don’t begrudge him some happiness.

4. In addition to a different Dean and Sam, we also got a different Crowley. He was much more cold than we’ve seen him in seasons past. He was so nonchalant about snapping Kevin’s girlfriend’s neck. Furthermore, Crowley’s got a lot at stake here. It’s very personal. Not only are Kevin and the Winchesters trying to wipe out all demons from the Earth; Kevin bested Crowley. Crowley cannot let that go unanswered. Since the stakes are so high for him this season, I have a feeling we’re going to see a much darker, more sinister Crowley than we’ve seen in seasons past.

5. The only thing that kind of didn’t sit exactly right was Amelia. I didn’t exactly get a warm fuzzy for her. After Sam hit the dog, he brought it to the vet and he was obviously distressed. Admittedly, his reaction wasn’t exactly in proportion to the situation, but he was going through a lot at the time. I understand Amelia not wanting him yelling at her nurse, but I didn’t like the way she spoke to Sam at all. She came off as snarky and abrasive. If she were trying to challenge him a bit, she did a pretty poor job of it. I would like to explore Sam’s relationship with Amelia, and find out why he left the way he did. But I absolutely do not want their relationship to be front and center of the season. Nor do I want Amelia to be poorly written. I’ll give her a few episodes before I pass final judgment, but as of right now, things aren’t looking too good in that department.

That being said, I loved pretty much everything about this episode.  It was a fantastic season opener. It set up some interesting character relationships and a few storylines that can be very meaty over the course of the season. It also set up a season long goal, and I’ve found SPN works best when they have one goal for the season. I’ve always liked Jeremy Carver’s episodes because he has a very firm grasp on Sam and Dean’s voices, and he does a great job of combining drama and humor. For all of the emotionally heavy parts, we got some pretty good chuckles (you’re going to your safety school. ha!) and a few awwws (yes, I said awww when Sam ordered Dean a burger). Some folks are concerned that if they find the tablet and banish demons forever it will be the end of the series. I don’t think that’s the case at all because, c’mon. When has anything ever gone exactly according to plan for these guys?