Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review - Supernatural 8.09 "Citizen Fang"

Hi! How are we all feeling? A little fragile? This hiatus is going to be harsh… Stupid CW changing their return date.

You know, I’m at work while most of you watch the show and this week my twitter was going nutso! I get alerts when someone tweets me and I kept getting “Oh Amy, tonight’s episode is going to break your heart” kind of tweets! So I started to panic. Like, I was having the worst day anyway and then I was having massive “Supernatural” anxiety on top of it! All this concern for me could only mean one thing, Dean screwed up, Dean did something horrific, everyone knows how I feel about Dean, so if I’m going to be that distressed by the episode, well… I was freaked out! I emailed Alice and Ardeospina! I said…am I going to cry??? Alice said she was surprised by something that happened and she was surprised she could still be surprised, she also cried, Ardeospina didn’t cry but thought that I probably would! OMG! I managed to make myself even more anxious…seriously…I had a lot of stuff going on which was making my stomach hurt, but my “Supernatural” feels were making me sweat!

Finally, the day ended and I could get home to my boys because obviously, they needed me! I nearly ran every red light to get there. I threw some food at the dog, got some tissues just in case, cracked a beer and prepared for the worst. My heart was leaping out of my chest for the entire episode. I was seriously queasy throughout! But…I didn’t cry...

I groaned when Dean said the thing about Benny never letting him down. I groaned when Sam spat out his well good on you line. I groaned when Sam let Dean get handcuffed to heater. I groaned really loud when we found out Dean sent the text. I groaned even louder when Sam hung up on Dean. GAH! These two! But you know what…it’s all good…I’m good with it all. In fact, I’m pretty damn happy about all that brother crap getting flushed to the surface…because now maybe we can deal with it and get rid of it once and for bloody all!

I may have touched on this somewhere else, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Sam and Dean lately (and by lately I mean seven and a half years) so humour me while I hop into my way-back-machine…

“Skin” – 1.06
Dean to Sam – while in the guise of the shapeshifter

"He’s sure got issues with you. You got to go to college. He had to stay home.

I mean, I had to stay home. With Dad. You don’t think I had dreams of my own? But Dad needed me. Where the hell were you?

See, deep down, I’m just jealous. You got friends. You could have a life. Me? I know I’m a freak. And sooner or later, everybody’s gonna leave me.

You left. Hell, I did everything Dad asked me to, and he ditched me, too. No explanation, nothin’, just poof. Left me with your sorry ass."

“Asylum” – 1.10
Sam to Dean – while possessed by Dr Ellicott and with a gun pointing at Dean.

"I mean, why are we even here? ’Cause you're following Dad's orders like a good little solider? Because you always do what he says without question? Are you that desperate for his approval?

That's the difference between you and me. I have a mind of my own. I'm not pathetic, like you.

You know what, I am sick of doing what you tell me to do."

The reason I’m starting this week’s review with a couple of quotes from the first half of season one, is because I think after “Citizen Fang” it’s important to take a step back and look at the history and nature of Sam and Dean’s relationship before we spend six weeks in the depths of despair.

I think us fans have a tendency to look at the Winchester’s bro-ness through rose coloured glasses. I know I do. We love them, maybe a little too much sometimes, just like they love each other, maybe a little too much sometimes. Actually, there’s no maybe about it, I think they love each other to the point of distraction (same goes for us). But I think the resentments we’re seeing raise their ugly heads in such a hurtful way now, are resentments that have been there right from the moment we met them.

When we first heard each of the brother’s inner doubts and anger at each other, albeit via supernatural interference, I remember thinking, o-oh, everything’s not so peachy-keen jelly-bean! And now….well now, their relationship has been so impacted by the shite they’ve had to wade through, that those resentments are starting to seep into everything. And you know what? Good! Let me explain myself a bit better because you probably all think I’m about as crazy as mostly-ok-Martin.

Sam and Dean have been on one hell of a ride to get them to where we now find them. They haven’t had a chance to draw breath since, well at least since when Dean went to Hell.

When we first met our beautiful Winchester boys, they hadn’t seen each other for 2 years. Sam had left John and Dean to go to college. John told Sam, you walk out that door don’t you ever come back. Dean didn’t contact Sam for the whole 2 years. He says he didn’t think Sam would pick up, but we know he was smarting from his brother leaving the family, or rather leaving Dean, which we later discover is the way Dean sees it. It wasn’t until their father went missing and Dean found himself alone, that he went to his brother and asked him to join him in the hunt for John, as much because he wanted to find their father as have his brother beside him. I think it was probably the excuse he’d been waiting for so he could reconnect with Sam. Dean doesn’t do alone well, neither brother does.

Sam was crystal clear, he had no intention of continuing with the hunter’s life beyond the search for dad and had Jess not been murdered, I’m quite sure Sam would be a lawyer right about now.

But circumstances changed Sam’s mind. During season one and then into season two Sam continued to remind Dean that this was not the life he was going to follow. Initially, he just wanted to find dad. Then he wanted revenge for Jess and mum and everything. But still, once the Yellow-Eyed Demon was done with, Sam was leaving the family business once and for all. I’m sure this hung over Dean’s head like a death sentence.

But circumstances changed Sam’s mind. He was killed, his brother sold his soul to resurrect him and now Sam’s mission was to get Dean out of that deal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and after that…well, after that it all kind of went in the crapper.

While Dean was in real Hell, Sam was in lost-without-his-brother hell and he fell in with Ruby. Between Dean and Sam they started the world on the road to the Apocalypse. Their trust in each other was permanently shaken as each chose different sides of the Ruby camp. Lucifer was risen. They found out they were the opposing vessels for the Apocalypse – forced on to opposite sides once again. They struggled to stay apart and then struggled to stay together. They were forced to face all their memories in Heaven and a wedge was driven further between them. Sam’s memories showed he was happiest when away from the family/family business. Dean got hurt because Dean’s memories were all about being with his family. So, the amulet went in the bin…..

They had a shining moment when they came together out of pure love and desperation to stop Lucifer in his tracks and it was that love and dedication to each other that quite literally saved the world (that’s how I see it anyway). Dean wouldn’t leave Sam and that helped Sam fight off the Devil to save Dean. But could they even catch a break then? Nope.

Sam dove into the pit. Dean struggled to live without his brother. He tried to follow Sam’s wish for him and what Dean thought was his own dream for a family life, only to find that was never going to be possible. Sam’s unexpected homecoming was not a happy one. Something was wrong in Sam-town and Dean knew it. His brother came out of Hell without his soul.

When soulless Sam’s soul was restored, the brothers had the world to save, yet again, this time from a barrage of Jefferson Starship monsters the likes they’d never seen and then, from a friend, who proceeded to send Sam crazy. Whatever. They kept moving forward because that’s what they do. They’re Winchesters. They stopped Eve but they couldn’t stop Cass, the Leviathan came, more end of the world stuff and then, bam, bam, bam. Cass died, Bobby died, Sam went mad, Cass came back, cured Sam and Dean killed Dick Roman, vanishing before his brother’s eyes. Poof. Gone.

Then…everything stopped.

They were apart for a year, where they both had a chance to draw breath and assess everything, without the pressures of the world driving itself off the cliff once again.

Dean fought in Purgatory and found a new sense of purpose. Sam met someone and found a new sense of life. Dean went back to being the hunter he was when we first met him. Sam went back to trying to make a safe and normal existence for himself, like when we first met him.

I think, what we’re seeing here and now are issues that the Winchester brothers had with each other since that wonderful day they came into our lives. The issues that they’ve never properly aired and that have had to take a back seat to the brothers being great big heroes.

What I see happening between Sam and Dean is confusion and hurt and anger and resentment amplified by years of confusion and hurt and anger and resentment.

I think that Dean is confused and hurt and angry about why Sam never looked for him, why his brother let him down. Why his brother turned away and went in search of a “normal life” again, and that plays into all of Dean’s insecurities and fears about not being worthy and being left alone, but I also think all this plays into that very first tirade. Sam got another shot at friends and a life. This should make Dean happy, he did too for a fleeting moment. But it’s déjà vu all over again. Dean had dreams he didn’t get to live, but Sam got another shot…at the expense of Dean.

I think Sam’s mad as hell. MAD AS HELL. I can’t remember seeing him this angry. He’s almost itching for a fight. I mean, if there was a fight, he could leave again with a clearer conscious right? I think sure, he’s angry his brother kept Benny a secret from him, he’s angry at what he sees as a double standard, but I also think, he’s mad as hell that he’s back doing the one thing he thought he got away from again. He’s back hunting. I think he’s pissed. Not necessarily at Dean but just at everything. All these flashbacks he’s having to his life with Amelia. He’s obviously thinking about it constantly. Well at least three times every 42 minutes! It looks to me like it’s eating him up. It looks like he feels like he’s been dragged back to following orders like a good little soldier and his brother is calling the shots once again. He's angry and he's scared. He’s given up everything once again, for the family business that has left him with so much pain.

I think, those two very simple outbursts, way back in season one, are continue inform the brother’s relationship and are playing into where they’re currently at. Because these are deep resentments, they’re epic siblingesque resentments and they’ve never truly been aired and dealt with. And sure, there's been a torrent of horror and mistrust under the bridge since then, which only adds to everything, but as I see it, where they are now and where they kicked off, are two very similar places. So that’s what I mean by…good. Get it out guys. Please, get it out and talk about it! You've been burying this stuff for years. It's time. Let's have that mature relationship Carver promises they're working towards. Let this be the first step to that.

They don’t communicate well, never have. Through everything they’ve learnt, that’s something that’s eluded them. I’d say their upbringing wasn’t conducive to open and honest discussion! For the brothers, it more often than not comes out in spits of pain. Which is why I never really worry about them, because the kind of pain being felt at the things being said is the kind of pain felt because of love. If they weren’t the most important people in each other’s lives, they wouldn’t be so deeply injured by each other’s lack of trust and understanding. They wouldn’t lash out so hurtfully.

Maybe this is how my Winchester rose-coloured glasses work…I don't know. I know most people don’t roll with my assessment that, regardless of what the brothers say or how they act, that love is always there and is their stone number one. I’ve always seen their relationship as a great big functioning dysfunctional piece of love. Sure there’ve been wonderful moments of fun and closeness where that affection is clearly on display and I think it’s those we tend to hang on to. But they’re gigantic, burley blokes and they butt heads, a lot. They can't be sharing and caring at every turn. They live in each other’s back pockets. They are totally different individuals. They piss each other off royally. They hurt each other completely. Their world is scary and extreme and their reaction to it and to each other can be scary and extreme. So…yeah, it’s bad, but it’s also good, because even if it’s coming out as yelling and nastiness, at least it’s coming out. That seems like a giant step forward! Everyone knows where they stand pretty much and we all know, when everything hits rock bottom…the only way is up (baby, for you and me….you’re all singing that in your heads now aren’t you).

And yet, in amongst all the angsty, heart stabby, keep us awake at night bro stuff, we saw some really strong moments between Sam and Dean that shows, whatever they have is still there and maybe we can take some solace in that.

Dean didn’t rail at Sam for putting someone on Benny. Even though you could tell Sam was expecting Dean to bite, Dean didn’t, instead agreeing with his brother that they needed to check it out. Sam gave Dean the time he asked for to go to see Benny before everything went too far. This was my favourite moment of the episode. The boys were laser focused on each other. Martin was bouncing back and forth yelling at them, but they just stared at each other calmly like no one else was in the room, as Dean asked “Sammy” for that time. I loved that moment. There was understanding and give and take going on.

But then the brothers met an impasse. Dean asked Sam to trust him and in doing so, to trust Benny, but if there’s no trust between each other, how can that trust be extended? Sam questioned Dean’s judgement. Dean hit one out in anger; Sam got hurt and volleyed one back. They went their separate ways and took their own actions. For right or for wrong, they followed the path they thought was justified.

I’m sure Sam probably would have killed Benny given half a chance, though Benny is pretty charming, maybe he could have talked Sam around! I think Dean did the text thing to protect both his brother and his friend. He doesn’t want them to get into a fight. He doesn’t want one to kill the other. He needed Sam out of the picture. He’d planned for this situation a while back. That’s smart man, and it also shows how well he knows Sam. Yeah, it was one hell of a dick move…but I was initially blown away by that level of forward thinking and then saddened that Dean thought maybe it would come to that and then saddened more that it had come to that.

I don’t think Dean realises what a fragile place Sam is in. I don’t think he’s seeing it. I don’t think Sam's showing him for a start, or telling him, no one’s telling anyone anything, but I also think, opening his eyes to what Sam’s feeling is something Dean doesn’t want to face, because then he’d see that maybe Sam doesn’t want to be there, next to Dean, driving down crazy street. Though's getting kind of obvious.

But everything in this episode could have gone a different way if the brothers had done what they do best and faced the problem together. Because I think Sam may actually feel differently about Benny if he truly met the vampire and learnt why Dean puts so much faith in him. They kind of want the same thing Benny and Sam and Benny and Dean I guess, happiness, family, they're all not that different...except for that pesky monster thing.

The one fly in the ointment of this whole shebang was Martin. Had he not been in the picture, things would have gone a lot different. Though had he not been in the picture we’d have never had this particular chapter in the Winchesters scrappy history! Martin had no place being out hunting again, he probably had no place being out…I just assume the hospital he was in got short on beds or something and turfed him. Sam probably should have been smarter than he was in putting Martin on Benny’s tail. But I don’t blame Sam, because I think out of everyone in this tragedy, which is hitting Shakespearian heights, Sam’s the one coping the least.

Did you see that panic overtake Sam again? When he raced towards Amelia, we saw that blind panic that we’ve seen a couple of times this season. Sam’s not doing good. I’m almost expecting one of his eyes to start twitching. He actually reminds me a bit of the Sam at the end of “Sam, Interrupted” when he said he’s angry all the time. Sam’s hurting. I’m kind of glad he’s getting a time out! 

I couldn’t be happier that Benny came through this with his head still attached to his shoulders. Benny is awesome. I love that character. Ty Olsson is doing a fantastic job with him. Benny fits well into the complex and conflicted character drama that is “Supernatural”. Plus he is cute and cuddly! Did he kill mostly-ok-Martin? Yeah, I’d say and I so don’t care! I’m pretty much taking everything that happened in this episode on face value. I think Martin’s neck looked ripped, not cut. Martin got close, Benny lunged, that’s how I see it playing out.

Oh…you know, I do have one theory…hands up who thinks Benny is going to make it to season 9. Bueller? Bueller? Nah me neither. I think we might have a “Heart” situation on our hands, with out the steamy sex of course….WITH OUT the steamy sex people! Benny gave up humans a while back, but he’s finding it hard going, plus he can’t have any semblance of the life he wants. He’s alone, lonely and teetering on the edge of being a monster…I mean a monster that kills. What if he decides, it’s not worth it, getting out of Purgatory is not what it’s all cracked up to be. What if like Lenore, he simply wants done with it, because either he can no longer control the blood lust, or because his life is plain miserable. He only has one person now who keeps his ducks in a row. Dean. I think Benny might ask Dean to send him back to Purgatory. I think he might ask his friend to kill him. If this happens I hope Sam is by his brother’s side, because, Dean’s going to need that support. Meep. Just a theory…run with it if you like! But be warned…I’m usually wrong. I suck at theories!

“Citizen Fang” was painful to watch, that’s for sure, because we all love these brothers and we want them to be happy and most of us want them to find that happiness together, but I’m really glad it’s all happening…finally... and I’m totally digging it. I thought it was another cracker of an episode that once again played into the whole perception thing going on this season. Everyone thought what they were doing was right. From their perspective it was. Even crazy mostly-ok-Martin.

The music, the cinematography, the direction, the performances the script from Dan Loflin were all spot on. I loved that scene where Dean confronts Benny. I love that Dean’s standing there with a knife behind his back. The camera drifts back and forth, the cicadas are chirping and the frogs are croaking and that southern style music is playing and I swear, it felt so steamy I nearly turned up the air conditioning and not just because there were two hot (one ridiculously hot) men facing off with knives! See what this show has done to me! Pretty men + violence = hot! I’m a tragedy.

While we’re on hot… “or…you could just drop a dime yourself” D-amn! Dean Winchester, you flirt like a BOSS! Woof! Also, Jensen, your Texan was showing…drawl much? Smokin’.

Oh and Amelia’s real. Which, I was pretty much expecting, but still. It made me think…if Sam left because he wanted to give Amelia and Don a shot, that when we saw him leaving it was after one last night together, then this whole time, Sammy would’ve been looking at his phone, hoping that Amelia would ring to say that she didn’t want her ex, that she’d chosen Sam and that it was all over with Don… But his phone has never rung, so he’s known and would’ve been dealing with the fact that his girl didn’t pick him. Quick, group hug everyone, because that smarts! How good was Jared’s reaction when Sam saw Amelia in the bar. That was awesome. I have no idea what’s going to happen… I figure, this will be the end of Sam and Amelia….but like I said, I suck at theories.

So here we are. Dean pulled a swiftie on Sam, Sam’s mad as all get out…one’s in Louisiana, one’s in Texas and we’re left high and dry for six weeks! SON OF A BITCH! But it’ll be ok, because my glass half-fullness is saying to me, that this is the beginning of a new road for Sam and Dean where they actually get the opportunity to deal with their crap and move forward into the back end of the season, wanting to be together and being the awesome duo we know they can be. That’s the thought that’s going to get me through this hellatus anyway! Maybe with some puppies and rainbows! Maybe I'm in deanial...get it...DEANial... Yep. But seriously, I'm thinking in a few episodes, hopefully we’ll see some kind of harmony and balance work its way back into their lives…well as much as can be expected…because this is “Supernatural” and none of us expects a happy ending here.

I just wanted to say thanks so much for reading my stuff and for all your support. I really appreciate all your comments and feedback. I know we don’t always see eye to eye, but I dig that, because it makes it interesting and I love to read everyone else’s ideas. I read every comment, even if I don’t always respond. I really love this show and I really love these brothers and I really love this fandom – even when I want to salt and burn it - and I love being part of all the crazy. “Supernatural” is way more than a TV show for me and I have a lot of you to thank for that.

We’ve got some fun things planned here at WFB for the hellatus, so keep your eyes peeled for those and I’ll be around with something for sure!

Oh and one last thing…rugburn…who else was obsessed with the mark on Jensen’s face that was the supposed result of rugburn caused by mucking around (wrestling/fight training) with Misha and Jared in his hotel room while at Toronto Con. Boys. Bless.

See you soon…stay strong!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and a Staff Writer for The Winchester Family Business

1 comment:

  1. Oh this episode made me scream at Sam for being such an Ahole - AGAIN.... that's all x