Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review - Supernatural 8.10 "Torn and Frayed"

And here we are, back in business! Hellatus over! Hooray!

I can’t tell you how happy I was to have “Supernatural” back. Seriously. I spent the afternoon beaming! I had a day off work so I actually watched it live (don’t ask me how ‘k?) and I was so chirpy after it, which is weird, because it was not exactly a chirpy episode! But I guess I was chirpy just to have the show back and chirpy to see my boys again…and that was the most I’ve ever used the word chirpy in my life!

This was a tough episode. It was tough to watch. Some tough choices were faced and some tough decisions were made. But for me, I can’t help but feel hopeful. I can’t help but feel like this was a tiny little step in the right direction for the brothers. A start...

Ok, I’ll admit something…when we awkwardly zoomed in on Crowley’s surprised face as he said “There’s an angel tablet”, I said out loud to no one but the dogs… “Well d’uh!” Do you think us fans are getting a little too smart for our own good? We’d all been discussing the possibility of an angel tablet for a while. I mean if there’s a demon tablet and a leviathan tablet, stands to reason there’d be an angel tablet. So that little OMG moment was totally lost on me. (I wonder if there’s a human tablet too)?

I was more surprised that all this information was buried deep in Samandiriel’s noggin…or his vessel’s noggin. Geeze, poor Alfie…the dude goes off to work at the Wiener Hut one day and look how it turns out! Anyway, I guess if the angels instinctively know the names of all the prophets, they instinctively know all of Heaven’s other big secrets, including the existence of all the tablets. I wonder what else they know. I wonder what other secrets are buried within their programming.

Though it was difficult to watch for the most part, I enjoyed the progression in the angel storyline. The whole thing has certainly piqued my interest and I’m finding that because we’re actually seeing what’s happening, as opposed to just hearing about it as per season 6, I’m more involved, I care more. I didn’t much care for the angel, weapons of God, Raphael war stuff in season 6, mostly because we barely saw any of it, it was just referenced. This time around, we have a greater involvement because we’re in the room, we’re getting to see the story the brothers aren’t seeing and Cass isn’t remembering.

I found the torturing scenes pretty damn brutal. Particularly the first bit, where Viggor reinserted that angel-radio silencer into Alfie’s frontal lobe. Ick and ouch. I was wincing. All the screaming, it was pretty hardcore, even for “Supernatural” and even for me. Doesn’t help that it was an angel we were all hoping would make it out alive, because he seemed like a good guy and good guy angels are few and far between. I felt so sorry for Alfie. Young Tyler Johnston did a really nice job.

So who is this Naomi chick? I figure she’s working for someone or working as part of a larger group. A consortium of angels. I’m seeing her as kind of a middleman, like Zachariah, rather than the boss of the operation. I don’t think she’s running the show. When she digs around and finds out what Alfie gave away whilst at the hands of Crowley, I wonder what her plan of attack will be. Will she mind control Cass into unwittingly manipulating the boys, to help her reach her goal of finding the angel tablet so it can be returned to Heaven, or maybe even destroyed, so that it can never be used against them? I think it’s about time the Big Man came back and pulled his bratty little kids into line! They’ve been nothing but trouble since he went AWOL.

I’m guessing that the reason the angels have crossed into mind control/brain washing territory is because angels have experienced free will for the first time in eternity and maybe this was the only way the high ranking angels could get everyone back into the fold. Or maybe it’s for some other nefarious reason yet to be revealed. Maybe just to keep their secrets, maybe something bigger. Alfie seemed surprised that Cass didn’t know who Naomi is. Like Cass should know who Naomi is. But Cass can’t remember her, because she’s playing with his programming. I wish Alfie stuck around so we could have found out more…

Poor Cass. Man, my heart bleeds for Cass. Here he is, going around fixing little baby’s hernias and generally out there doing good for humanity with a smile on his face and then bloody Naomi makes him kill Heaven’s most adorable angel! What has she done to him? It’s not just the mind control; she stuck something in the corner of his eye that made his vessel bleed. So if the Alfie thing is any indication, it looks like Naomi is tinkering with Castiel’s hardwiring. I feel horrible for him. He thought it was his idea to save Alfie. He thought after killing so many, saving one would help with his penance. Then he thought it was his idea to kill Alfie. Poor Cass. The way he cradled the dead angel’s head. A-wah! This is going to totally screw him up. Because he already feels pretty crappy about what went down previously and now... Ugh. Where’s this going? Nowhere good.

If this was why Castiel was pulled from Purgatory, well then, somehow the Winchesters must be involved, because surely the angels in charge could get any old angel to go rescue Alfie or track down Crowley or find the angel tablet. But because the Winchester’s were already on the tablet track and Cass is their friend… This all worries me because Castiel has only just got back into the brother’s good graces after the leviathan/souls episode. I don’t want Heaven to make Cass do anything that puts him at odds with Sam and Dean. Hopefully, now that the brother’s spidey senses are tingling about the whole thing and that they can see something is amiss with their angel buddy, they’ll be able to sort out what’s happening to Cass before it becomes too destructive to the lot of them. Damn angels.

This is the best Cass storyline we’ve had since season 4 and 5. He’s intricately involved in the main mytharc. He doesn’t feel shoehorned in. I felt like the last two seasons, no one really knew what to do with Cass and he was there more for the benefit of the fans than the benefit of the story, but this season he seems to have more of a purpose.

So…Sam and Dean... Clunky segue, sorry.

It seems crazy to me that a show can physically hurt when I watch it. But that’s what happened when I watched that opening scene. I got like this little pain in my chest. It simply hurt to watch. This was the Winchesters at their not listening, bull-headed best.

Sam had every right to be angry with Dean for making him fear the worst for Amelia. Dean’s text move, though it served its purpose, was not the way to solve that situation and get his brother out of the picture. But on the flipside, Sam simply didn’t want to hear anything Dean had to say. Anger does that I guess. When you’re as angry as Sam was, and I think that was anger that’d been brewing all season and wasn’t just about the message, well, you become selectively deaf. But had he known the situation, had he known that Martin had Elizabeth with a knife to her throat, I’m quite sure he would have felt differently. But of course, Elizabeth was never mentioned, because that would’ve been too easy on us!

The thing with this conversation, which I liked is, really, they were both right. They both had a case. Dean’s move was hurtful and thoughtless and caused his brother worry and pain and he should’ve realised that would be an outcome, but none of this would have happened if Sam had put just a little faith in Dean. I’m not saying Sam should’ve trusted Benny blindly. But have a little faith in his brother? Yeah.

I think Sam’s lack of faith or trust or whatever when it comes to Benny is more about Dean having lied and kept Benny a secret, than the fact that Benny is a monster. Because really, that doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense when it comes to Sam. Sure he’s been burnt by monsters before and sure, he might be worried that Benny may turn out to be Dean's Ruby, but usually he’s more thoughtful than that and usually he has more empathy than that. This monster is responsible for his brother standing in front of him, that in itself should require a little consideration. But he doesn't even seem interested in hearing of any possibility that Benny might not be all bad. He dismisses it out of hand and that just seems weird to me. So I have to take it, this anger is about his brother and the lie and the whole getting dragged back to hunting thing and how he felt when he lost Dean and the loss of Amelia and all the fear that comes along with what he’s having to do now and just everything rolled into one gigantic bag of anxiety and anger, that he’s focused on Benny. Because nothing else really makes sense to me.

And there’s no point saying, yeah but Dean didn’t trust Sam about this or that so why should Sam trust Dean, because two wrongs do not make a right and because this is Sam we’re talking about, not Dean…this is Sam and in the past he’s not been quite so black and white. That’s why I think his mistrust and anger stems from much more than simply Benny being a monster and I really hope at some point that gets recognised.

Anyway, it was one of those scenes where you want to clonk their heads together and say, shut-up both of you and listen to your brother! Had they not (hot) angry glared at each other, maybe they might have got somewhere…but no, Dean huffed out and Sam closed his eyes in frustration and…yeah…ouch...the fans grimaced. How many times have we been down this road in the last 7 ½ years? And we keep coming back for more! We be crazy! Having said that, I actually enjoyed the opening scene. It felt honest and realistic. Any other outcome would have felt wrong at that point. They were both too far-gone. I’m glad there wasn’t a band-aid pop over their sores.

So much hurt. Sam hurt by Dean’s lies and thoughtless trick, Dean hurt by Sam no longer wanting to be by his side, by Sam wanting out. Neither taking the time to listen each other, neither taking the time to talk to each other. (Hot) angry stares and bitter words... But it had to get here, before it could get to where we ended up.

I liked all of the brother’s interactions in this episode. I dug how, even though they were seriously annoyed with each other, they fought like a team. Covering each other’s back…in unison as always. Cass was so right to go get Sam. Without this move, I’m not sure how they would’ve been reunited, because they’re so, damn, stupidly stubborn. I think Cass did it because he needed them both, but I also think he did it because he knows they need each other.

I also think Kevin’s comment about not being able to enjoy a world that he had to save, that he kicked his mum to the curb, so he could focus on the mission, may have influenced Dean’s change of heart towards Sam (though obviously not initially, we all know how Dean likes to brood on things). I think seeing Kevin push his only family away made Dean reassess. Is it worth it? If he continued on this track, he’d push his only family away out of hurt and stubbornness. If he forced Sam to stay, or if he didn’t allow Sam to make his own choices, if they continued on this path of angry resentment, where would it end? Was the job, the life, the mission worth losing the most important person in the world to him? That’s why I think Dean had a change of heart, because nothing is worth losing his brother over, nothing is worth all the fighting.

Dean was honest enough to say he was jealous of Sam’s ability to separate his life from the job, something Sam’s always been able to do from day one and something Dean has tried to do and failed at. This time, he let Sam make his choice on his future. He told him both feet in, or both feet out, not in a way that instilled guilt, not as an ultimatum, but as advice from one brother to another, because they both know, that having one foot in their world while trying to maintain a foot in the other world can lead to you being dead. Either choice Sam made, Dean would have been supportive of it, even if it meant losing Sam as the person by his side day in day out, because by giving Sam this choice, it meant that no matter what, he wouldn’t lose Sam as a brother. Mature brothers are mature! For once! I think that was one of the most grown-up conversations they’ve ever had. I look forward to more.

I wasn’t surprised that Sam chose to stay with Dean. Of course we knew this would be the outcome eventually, this being a show about the Winchester brothers and all, but we didn’t know if it would be the outcome here and now. But when I saw Amelia and Sam’s interactions in the motel room, how Sam seemed to draw away postcoital, I knew that Sam would not be there at the end. It was when Sam said they should think about it, it was when Sam said, “Words will never cover what you mean to me, what you’ll always mean to me…” Two things struck me here; if you are crazy in love with someone, if you know you’re meant to be together and that this is the only life you want to live, you don’t have to think about it, because you just know. Then when Sam said, “…what you’ll always mean to me…” well that sounded like goodbye. That sounded like he already knew. Sam’s a good guy. He was obviously regretful of the fact they slept together, Don still being in the picture. That’s never going to sit well with Sam. He cares too much for others. Also, the fact that Sam popping up again in Amelia’s life, caused her to rethink her relationship with her husband... Had that not happened, had Sam not been there, she would have moved on and been happy without him. I think both of these things would have weighed heavily on Sam. I’m not sure Sam would ever have felt comfortable living with that knowledge, living with that guilt.

But I think there’s more to it. I don’t doubt that Sam loves Amelia, but they were these two damaged people. That’s what brought them together in the first place, that’s what bonded them. With the return of both their loved ones, some of those wounds have started to heal. I wonder if Sam doesn’t need Amelia in quite the same way that he once did. Maybe that hole in Sam’s life that Amelia helped to fill is not as gaping anymore. I also think Sam knows that deep down, he could never walk away from hunting…not just from his brother, but from what he’s always done. Sometime ago he came to terms with the life and even embraced it, even more than Dean did. Maybe in his heart of hearts, he knows that hunting will always be there, like an itch that needs to be scratched.

Amelia telling Sam that it’s up to him to choose between, being with her 100% or being in the life of his that she knew nothing about, was exactly what Dean said to him. Both feet in, or both feet out. Funny that. I respected how Amelia phrased this. I respected that she didn’t give him an ultimatum, that she gave him a choice, that she gave both of them a choice and she that didn’t tell Sam what her decision would be, so there was no guilt, no pressure…just a choice to make from his heart. In the end, Amelia chose Sam…but Sam chose the life he never shared with her.

And Dean took his own advice. I know Sam pretty much gave Dean an ultimatum at the beginning of the episode in relation to Benny, but I don't think that's why Dean made that call. I think Dean listened to what he told Sam, all in, or all out. I think he was committing to repairing his relationship with his brother and with Benny still in the picture, he knew that could never completely happen, because his relationship with the vampire would always be a bone of contention between Sam and Dean. So to move forward, to get past all the fighting, he had to let Benny go. I can’t even imagine how difficult that decision must have been for Dean, he doesn't turn his back on friends and you could tell by his face and tear filled eyes, how painful it was for him. But in the end, Dean chose to put his family first. He chose to put the most important relationship in his life and the most important person in his life, first. I can’t be disappointed in Dean for this.

I am sad for Benny, desperately sad. But, I think it's important to remember, when Dean and Benny first came back from Purgatory, the plan was never to see each other again. They hugged and said goodbye. No matter how much Benny meant to Dean, that relationship was never supposed to spill into this world. It only did so because Benny needed help and contacted Dean. He needed help when his old nest attacked him, he needed to be helped when Sam set Martin on him and this time around, he wanted help to stay on the straight and narrow. Benny always contacted Dean, not the other way round. Should Dean still have dropped everything and gone to Benny? You know what? Dean’s up to his elbows in demons and angels and tablets and closing the gates of Hell and a whole lot of brother crap. Dean can’t be solely responsible for Benny’s choices. Dean can't be solely responsible for Benny keeping his nose clean. Benny has to learn how to stay on the straight and narrow himself. He can’t expect Dean to drop everything and travel cross-country at a phone call’s notice. Sounds harsh I know, but no one in this show seems to take responsibility for their own actions and it’s about time someone did.

I’m sad for Benny, I like him a hell of a lot, I like Dean and Benny’s friendship a hell of a lot. I’m sad for the both of them and I sure don’t want this going down the, Benny kills a human now Dean has to kill his buddy path…please TPTB, do not do that to us or to Benny or to Dean. I fear that’s where it’s going, but I seriously hope not. Of course, this being “Supernatural” and all, Dean’s decision will probably bite him in the ass. Lord knows, we couldn’t possibly let him walk away and it all be ok…we’ve got to grind him down with more guilt yeah? We’ll all just sit here and wait for the Benny situation to explode in Dean’s face… Gah!

Wow…this whole review has been a real downer! Sorry about that! But it was a pretty dour episode. I don’t know about you, but I ran the emotional gamut! From anger and frustration, to revulsion, to giggly glee at Cass and Dean doing their shtick “That’s his serious face, yes.” Or even better “…manifest through shrubbery” MANIFEST THROUGH SHRUBBERY! My new favourite saying. I have to figure out how to work it into a conversation! Then there was horror, confusion, fear and in the end a bittersweet, cautious optimism. It was like being on a rollercoaster… AHHHHHHHH...EWWWWWW…GRRRR...HEE HEE...AHHHHHHHH…AWWWWW…PHEW. I ended up wobbly at the knees!

I’m not saddened by Sam and Dean’s decisions. I’m not angry or disappointed that they chose to give up two important people in their lives. It’s a step towards committing to fixing their broken relationship. A fragile understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I want them to have friends, I want them to be able to have other relationships outside of each other. But at this point in time, with these two people, with these two relationships with what they're facing and with where the brothers are emotionally, it’s just not possible. But they’re not alone. They’re not isolated. They still have people around them. They still have Cass, they still have Garth, they still have the Trans and out there somewhere, they still have Sheriff Mills. It’s just right now, to get their house in order they had to make a choice. Sam and Dean chose family and well... isn't that kinda the whole point?

Thanks for reading guys! See you next week for Dean in chainmail........ Eeeeee!

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

1 comment:

  1. Amelia wasn't important to Sam. She was a symbol of the so called normal life he insists he wants yet he always seems to walk away from normal to hunting every chance he gets.