Oh my gosh I loved this episode. “Love Hurts” totally didn’t, in fact it made me giddy with my love for this show and our two wayward sons! I tweeted after the episode finished, “You know when you're all excited and bubbly and can't think straight because you love the show and Sam and Dean so much? That's me now.” And it’s still me now…4 viewings and counting.
I laughed, I gasped at the ridiculous beauty, RIDICULOUS BEAUTY, I ewwww, I yelled and screamed at the TV a lot towards the end there, and I clutched a pillow to my chest while hearts bounced out of my eyes. I couldn’t believe how much I loved this episode. It was funny and gory and scary and most importantly, epically bro-y and I freakin’ loved it. Whateven is season 11? I mean seriously!
The brother moments – along with a super pacy and pithy script and cool story – pushed this from being your standard midseason monster of the week episode, to something that popped and zinged with witty one-liners and delightful scenes. The opening in the kitchen, the epic rock-paper-scissors duel, and the closing broment were some of the best and most organically genuine scenes between Sam and Dean that I’ve had the joy of witnessing on this show. Where the brothers are this season…especially right now…is an absolutely joy. I can’t get enough of them. I just can’t. It’s what I’ve always dreamed and hope for them, a relaxed and confident harmony. No doubting where one stands with the other. They stand side by side. Man…it’s a privilege and a delight to watch them…for a whole bunch of reasons!
The monster of the week story seemed to be homage to the contemporary and critically acclaimed horror movie, “It Follows’. The movie focuses on teens who find that when they have sex with someone, they get relentlessly followed by something that never stops, ever. And will kill them, bloody, if it catches up to them. The only way to shed yourself of this thing – which appears in familiar human form – is to sleep with someone else and pass the curse on. The movie is a metaphor for STDs and a warning for young people about unprotected sex. And it’s an amazing movie – if you haven’t seen it, you really should.
“Love Hurts’ had a similar plot, and the fact that our show seems to have based an episode on a contemporary horror movie is so cool. The show has paid homage or referenced many classic horror movies, but it’s cool to see something so new get the Supernatural treatment. The twist to our story is the curse was created by a witch to punish cheaters and their cheatees along with the partners who put up with it. Spreading the curse via a kiss and then ripping out hearts, tied wonderfully in to the Valentines theme. I actually googled whether a heart continues to beat when ripped from the chest, and it actually does for a few beats! It will beat noticeably for several beats before it visibly stops. However it will continue to fibrillate for 3 – 5 minutes – you just can’t see it! Who knew! The things you learn because of Supernatural.
As much as I enjoyed the monster of the week angle of this episode, it was the brothers’ interactions that elevated it to something special. Nicole Snyder and Eric Charmelo nailed every single beat. The brothers were pitch perfect.
It’s no secret I’ve been loving season 11 Sam and Dean. Well, actually, I love every season Sam and Dean, even when they’re at loggerheads, I still love them, because they still love each other, through everything, that’s something I’ve never, ever doubted. But to see them at a place where they seem so comfortable in their own skins, and in each other’s company is a damn delight.
On last week’s Women of Letters podcast Jules used the word, “relaxed” and I think that’s a great term for how they now are around each other. They’re not bristling at every off the cuff comment. They’re not side-eyeing each other waiting for the other shoe to drop. They’re not hiding out in their rooms, through shame or guilt or anger. The bunker has become like a true home, an oasis from their world (except for Casifer lurking in the halls), where they sit and talk over coffee in their huge kitchen, where they share moments and heart to hearts, where they feel safe and secure in their trust in their brother, and where they sleep UNDER the covers. It’s been a hell of a journey and I feel so proud of them (and us) that they stuck it out together through all the rough patches. Though, was there ever any doubt? Because for them (and for us), their love is at the core of who they are as individuals and as brothers and it’s what makes them exceptional. Their bond was never going away, but to see them in their 30’s, settling into a life where they’re not doubting at every turn if this is what they should be doing, or looking off into the distance for a way out, or to the past pointing a finger of blame…it’s damn heart-warming. It warms my heart and how! Like Dean said, the past is the past, for the first time, possibly ever, they’re living in the moment and not looking over their shoulders at old mistakes and betrayals. And it’s made them all the more powerful. Stronger together was not a platitude, it was an absolute truth. They are stronger together, as brothers, as hunters, as humans.
When the Carver took over as showrunner, one of his mission statements was to have the brothers communicate on a more mature level. As grown men, instead of the boys who grew up in each other’s back pockets, with sibling axes to grind buried deep inside. We’d seen all that, we’d seen them angst over absolutely everything and torture each other emotionally. We’d seen them close up, open up, close up again, rinse and repeat. Every step forward they seemed to make together was followed by 2 steps back…which was then followed by the inevitable anger and pain – FOR ALL OF US! Don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment of every step along the way, but I didn’t realise how desperately I wanted them to get past all that crap that they let weigh them down for so many years, until they actually started to get past it!
Some things will never change. Dean will always try to carry the weight of everything alone. He’s been doing that pretty much since he was 4. It’s not about martyrdom; it’s about who he is and what has been ingrained into his every being since he was a child. He was the one that took on holding the family together, looking after his brother, and probably looking after his father in the wake of Mary’s loss. He was the son, the brother, the mother, the hunter, all while he was a small boy. Taking on a burden, is no longer something that he would even think about – it’s just his natural state of being. His shoulders have always born a lot, but no matter how wide they are (and they are fantastically, gloriously, wide), he can’t carry every load alone and he doesn’t ever need to. Because there is a set of shoulders just as strong and wide alongside him. But asking for help is something that doesn’t come naturally to Dean. I’m pretty sure that was also ingrained in him at an early age…plus who would he have asked? That’s why the final brother scene was such a marvel. Such an amazing step for Dean. Such a perfect reaction from Sam. Basically… it was everything.
The opening in the kitchen was beyond adorable. Hung-over, hickey wearing Dean shuffling in with one sock half off his foot, heading to the fridge for leftover’s, only to find bad Chinese food. Sam’s gentle teasing. Dean’s little hung-over stumble on the way to the coffeemaker. Jensen’s ability with physical comedy is perfect – in this scene and the rock, paper scissors scene that came later.
Dean finally won. FINALLY. And I’m not sure who was more surprised, him or Sam. But to see Dean’s concentration at every move, then his total gobsmacked shock when he actually won, followed by a five year old’s glee and triumphant arms in the air was just the best. The look on Sam’s face when Dean didn’t go with scissors! It was one of the best scenes ever…up there with last week’s dinner scene. How does this show keep delivering these kind of moments! And Ackles gave us comedy elbows. They are now officially canon!
And then there was the scene at the end.
The plot around the Qareen taking the form of your deepest, darkest desires was of course, a machination to bring the Dean and Amara story into the foreground. Once Dean kissed Melissa, proving the boys’ theory that the curse was transferable, it was no surprise that Amara – or a form of Amara, was coming. We saw the shadow change in the window hinting at what was to follow.
Sam’s panicked reaction to Dean taking on the curse was beautifully played. Sam worrying that Dean was, once again, solely taking on a burden that he needn’t. Knowing now what we know of Sam’s awareness of Dean’s struggles with the Darkness, I think a lot of his reaction was coming from that. Dean was holding on to this terrible secret, that Sam, unbeknownst to Dean, was aware of…or at least suspected. This instantly looked like a typical Dean move... But Dean’s calm reassurance that he’d be fine and as long as he’s good, Melissa would be good, didn’t ring of martyrdom, rather it rang of the saving people part of the bumper sticker. There was nothing that suggested he took on the curse as carelessly as self punishment – like he did with the Mark of Cain – but rather as a snap reaction to save the victim, because better the bad thing comes after Dean than a civilian. And I think Sam realised that and so there was no more admonition, just back to the fight at hand. I liked that scene a lot. I liked Dean’s response. I liked Sam’s response to Dean. It was a precursor of what was to come – and the surprise of Sam not being surprised.
When Sam vanquished the Qareen and fake Amara vanished in a puff of smoke and burst of light, I figured that would be the end of that, Dean’s secret would remain under wraps. But nooooo. My goodness, I so did not see Dean’s honesty coming.
When Sam, having seen holes everywhere, gently prods Dean as to who came after him, I was waiting for Dean to say Daisy Duke or something sassy, but when he stood up slowly and told his brother it was Amara…well…
This was Dean opening himself up to the one person whose opinion he truly cares about. Dean is embarrassed and confused by, and disgusted in how he feels. He’s judging himself, wondering what this makes him, this connection to evil. Does it make him evil, complicit, weak? Standing in front of Sam and admitting what he can barely admit to himself was a hell of a leap forward for Dean Winchester, and shows just how much the brothers’ relationship has shifted. That Dean would risk Sam’s disdain, that he would risk hearing repeated back to him all the heinous things he’s been thinking about himself? Dean knew they were in trouble, because he was in trouble and Sam had to know. This was Dean at his most vulnerable, most trusting, and most grownup. I was so damn proud of him. So proud that he trusted his brother in that moment.
And then Sam freakin’ Winchester gives Dean exactly what he needs... non-judgemental support, and unconditional love.
I was surprised as hell to hear that Sam wasn’t at all surprised about the Dean and Amara thing…but I also wasn’t. No one knows Dean as well as Sam…not even Dean. Sam’s a keenly observant and empathetic guy. But not only that, Sam’s been there. He understands wanting something he knows is wrong, but not being able to resist. He understands the conflict between the feelings of desire and disgust. And this is part of why the brothers can understand and accept each other with less judgement now, because they have had these shared experiences, they’ve walked in each other’s shoes, and this has helped them see their brother’s past actions and their own, in a different light.
I love Sam so much for how he reacted to Dean’s admission, and for those four simple words he uttered when Dean told Sam he didn’t think he could kill the Darkness… Sitting up straight, with clear eyes focused on his brother…
“I got it, Dean”
So much was said with those four words. Sure, Sam understands, he gets it, he knows what Dean is trying to say as he apologises to his brother. But more importantly, Sam’s got Dean; he’s got his big brother. Dean can share this load, he’s not alone, he can hand it over, Sam will take this one for him. “I got it, Dean”. Goddamn, I just made myself cry. I ain’t lying. I’m sitting here crying, just thinking of the power of these words, how much it would have meant to Dean to hear them, and this truly beautiful moment between these two fabulous men.
And as Dean walks out… Sam squeezes his eyes close, and when they open, they're glistening with emotion. Emotion over his brother’s plight, and over what lies ahead for both of them. The strength Sam offered Dean in that moment was such a gift…for all of us. These two have come so far. I feel like this is one of the best brother conversations of the series…certainly one of the most honest, and definitely one of the most mature.
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are damn fine actors. The range that they demonstrated in this episode, from the high comedy moments, to the deeply moving moments, were note perfect every step of the way. Their ability to imbued Sam and Dean with such depth, to pierce our hearts week in week out, and fill us with such unbridled emotion is mind-blowing. After eleven seasons of loving the Winchesters, I find with each tragedy, with each struggle, with each win, with each loss, with each teasing retort, and with each episode, I love them more.
Yep. I loved this episode… a lot.
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