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, 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.


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 8.08 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.

Supernatural 8.05 Review: Vampirates Y’all

Supernatural, I am in love with you again. After last week’s highly disappointing episode, I really needed Blood Brother to be good, and it was. Ben Edlund never fails to bring the awesome, and Guy Bee has quickly become one of my favorite Supernatural directors. This was an excellent episode and it served as a springboard for what I’m hoping will be another fantastic episode next week. But before I start singing the praises of an episode that hasn’t aired yet, let’s talk about Blood Brother.

This week, we got a really good look at Benny. It usually takes Supernatural longer than 5 episodes to give us as much backstory on supporting characters as we got on Benny last night. Heck, we didn’t find out how Bobby got into hunting until about midway through S3. But last night, we got a real good look at why Benny ended up in Purgatory and why he was so anxious to get back topside. I just want to pause here and say that I found it particularly hilarious to have yuppie vampires (complete with polos and popped collars) feeding off the yacht club crowd. Like I said, Ben Edlund is awesome. But back to Benny. He ran into some trouble while he was hunting down his maker, and he called Dean to help him out. Dean, to Sam’s dismay, dropped what he was doing and went to help Benny out. Benny tells Dean that he was his maker’s favorite until he decided to ditch the nest because he fell in love with a woman named Andrea. Love will make you do some very strange things, and in the Supernatural universe it has led the characters to take drastic action (i.e. John selling his soul for Dean, Dean selling his soul for Sam, Sam taking control from Lucifer). In this case, love led Benny to stop killing humans and turn his back on his nest. Through Andrea he was able to remember the beauty and value of human life, so he walked away from the nest. For that, his maker hunted them down and killed them…or so Benny thought. Dean and Benny locate the nest only to find that the maker has turned Andrea instead of killing her. Long story short, Dean kills lots of vampirates while Benny takes out the maker and his lieutenant. He wants Andrea to leave with him, but she’s no longer the woman he fell in love with and she doesn’t want to leave. Dean ended up taking her out before she killed Benny.

Supernatural has tried on several occasions to tell the story of sympathetic monsters (i.e. Madison, Lucky, and Amy), and I think that it’s worked to a certain extent. But at the end of the day, all of those monsters had killed humans and were likely to kill again. So as sympathetic as they were, they still needed to die. I don’t think Benny fits into that category. Yes, Benny is a vampire and he had fed on humans in the past, but by the time he got sent to Purgatory he hadn’t been feeding on humans for some time. Furthermore, there’s no indication that he’s feeding on humans now. So the question becomes, does he need to die simply because he’s a vampire? Or should he be allowed to try to continue living off donated blood? One of the main themes of Supernatural is redemption, and I don’t think Benny should be exempt from the opportunity to redeem himself. Dean’s bond with Benny led to what was perhaps my favorite scene of the episode –Sam meeting Benny for the first time. There wasn’t really any dialog in that scene, but there was a whole lot said. Sam reaching for his machete and Dean shaking him off with just a look and a shake of his head. It was beautifully shot and wonderfully acted by Ackles, Padalecki, and Ollson. I’m not sure I trust Benny completely yet, but after last night’s episode, I want to trust him. I want to believe that the bond he and Dean forged in Purgatory is real. Speaking of Purgatory…

I am really loving the flashbacks to Purgatory. I especially like how they’re shot. The colors harsh and we’re generally given a 360 degree shot from Dean’s POV so we can see that he’s literally got monsters coming at him from all sides. I also like the fact that we’re able to see the evolution of the Dean/Benny relationship in those Purgatory flashbacks. Dean is initially very wary of Benny and rightfully so. Benny is, after all, a monster. But even after Dean and Benny make an agreement to get Dean out of Purgatory, Dean doesn’t fully trust him. They were fighting back to back, but even then, Dean kept Benny at arm’s length. It wasn’t until Benny killed a leviathan to save Cas that Dean finally trusted him. Now, the argument could be made that Benny killed that leviathan to earn Dean’s trust more than to save Cas. But I think Benny saved Cas because he knew how much Cas meant to Dean. Just as an aside, I got a pretty good chuckle out of the conversation about Cas being Benny’s aunt.

We also got some movement on the Sam/Amelia storyline this week. I’m glad for this because I was really leaning toward not liking Amelia. I didn’t like the way she was introduced and I didn’t like her first interactions with Sam. She came off as snarky and self-righteous. I was not impressed. Thankfully, this episode softened her for me. I’m really glad because if something hadn’t been done about her, it would’ve been awful to have to sit through that part of Sam’s story. But I like how she was presented here. She was a bit less snarky and a little more relateable. Now, I’d like to know more about her and about how she changed Sam. I’m looking forward to that storyline because we’ll learn more about not only what Sam did during his year away from Dean, but who Sam became during that year. When Amelia and Sam met, they were in the same place. They were both lost and full of grief. Their worlds had spun out of control and they didn’t know how they were going to find solid footing again. When they found each other, they found stable ground. I’m not saying it’s necessarily healthy to form a relationship based upon shared feelings of loss, but if that’s what it takes to help you begin to heal, then that’s what you do. I don’t think Sam wants to be with her just so he can quit hunting. I really believe Sam loves her as much as he’s able. Furthermore, he’s had a taste of normal with her and he liked it. It’s no longer just an idea or an unattainable dream. It’s something he’s actually experienced and something he is now willing to fight for. I also really like how Sam’s memories of his past year are shot. The colors are extremely bright and slightly hazy, like a dream. It’s in stark contrast to the sharp, harsh tones of Purgatory.

This was an excellent episode, and I am really loving this season so far. I think it would be beneficial to have a Dean flashback episode and a Sam flashback episode so we can get their past year from their perspective. But I like where Carver and Co. are taking us and I’m excited about next week’s episode. It looks like all the tension between the Brothers Winchester will be coming to a head. Good times. That’s all for now junkies. Until next time, peace, love, and joy. 🙂

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.