Saturday, 2 April 2016

Review: Supernatural 11x17 "Red Meat" - The Agony and the Ecstasy of Loving Sam and Dean

-by sweetondean

Warning...below be a lot of feels and a bit of swearing!

There was a point during “Red Meat” where, through the whimpering, and sobbing, and rocking back and forth I mumbled, “I don’t like this. I’m not enjoying this. I don’t like this episode.” Of course, that was the shock and the emotion speaking. Intellectually, if I could have mustered the brainpower, I would have seen that what I was watching was one of the great episodes of Supernatural. But emotionally? Nope. No. JUST MAKE IT STOP! It was too much. I was right on the edge of what my Winchester pain threshold must be…right on it, and at risk of toppling over! “Red Meat” was harsh! Way harsh. 

I can’t even with how much this episode affected me. I mean I knew neither of the Winchesters was actually going to die…season 12 and all that jazz, and I’ve seen Sam and Dean “die” before. I sobbed through All Hell Breaks Loose and Swan Song and No Rest for the Wicked, I screamed when they were both shot in Dark Side of the Moon, I was damn well practically catatonic for months after Dean was stabbed by Metatron, but the unrelenting pace of “Red Meat”, one horror unfolding after another, the realism to everything that happened to both the boys; it never gave me a second to collect my wits, catch my breath, have a drink of water, gather my feels. I. WAS. A. WRECK. If there was ever any doubt in my mind that the way I feel for these two fictional characters is as profoundly real as my feelings for nonfictional people, this episode dispelled it. Everything about the agony felt real…and I really didn’t like it all! 

I knew Sam got shot. I’d seen the promo. I’d seen the preview clip. I knew…but that’s all I knew. That was it. So even though I thought I was prepared…I WAS NOT PREPARED! 

From the very first moments of “Red Meat” my stomach went into a knot. I knew if we were starting there, things were going to go pear shaped super quick! I was steeling myself for the bullet, thinking that Sam getting shot was going to be the worst part…and something I could cope with…oh silly, silly me! When that bullet went in, and Sam crumpled, and Dean saw it all in slomo… from that moment, that moment a few minutes in to the episode, I pretty much stopped breathing. 

And then it goes…...  48 HOURS EARLIER

Are you fucking shitting me? I swore so hard! If Dabb and Berens were sitting next to me, I would have punched them both in the face! HOW DARE THEY! Bastard writers! Evil geniuses. I hate/love them. 

What was happening to Sam? What was happening to Dean? What was happening in the cabin? I could barely even hear what Sam and Dean were talking about in the bunker, for the blood pounding in my ears! 

And then whoosh, we’re back into the present…and there was Sam in a heap on the floor and Dean running to him. Oh God…it’s all too real. The emotional whiplash was horrific! 

I started weird whining noises around the point Dean dropped to his knees, first aid kit in hand. His panic was tangible as he tried to calm his brother and himself, as Sam screamed into a roll of bandage, as Dean desperately dug around for the bullet; trying to control his own escalating terror, making a joke to try to make his brother, and himself, feel okay, feel normal. In that moment everything blacked out around me into some weird tunnel vision, just me and my TV, and my heart beat ratcheted up…way up, way, way too fast, as I watched the Winchesters in the exact situation they don't want to be in, that we don't want them to be in…with one of them dying on the floor. No.

Everything looked and felt so real. It was visceral. The blood gushing out of Sam’s belly. The way Sam moaned and gasped and winced. The way Dean dug around in that wound. The fear spreading across Dean’s beautiful face as he tried to remain calm. Sam struggling to dress the wound himself. The sounds he was making! Christ, I could almost smell the fear and blood and sweat. 

This was really, really bad…but oh my God…it got worse! 

Every painful step Sam took through the forest, I felt. Every jangling nerve of Dean’s, I he tried to hold everyone and everything together...saving the victims, while desperately trying not to freak out over his bleeding out brother! Really, this episode is actually hard to write up because it’s making me relive it! When they stumbled into the second cabin, I thought…oh thank God, maybe now they can really patch up Sam and then get help…


I never thought I could hate someone as much as I hate Gordon Walker. I can barely watch his episodes because my fury for that man burns so hot in my gut. I even dislike Metatron less than I dislike Gordon Walker, and Metatron killed my boy! But hello Corbin, you big, pathetic ASS! 

From the minute he was like – “Hey, forget about your brother bleeding out on the floor, a little help here?” he was dead to me. Every time he bullied Dean into feeling guilty for not dropping everything to help him and his wife BECAUSE HE WAS TRYING TO SAVE HIS OWN BROTHER, I thought, “Man up you pathetic wuss!” My God. For the amount of time he spent bellyaching he could have taken his wife and made a break for it….but oh no diddums all 6ft of him (I looked up the actor’s IMDB)… He made me furious. When you’re used to the bloody great big heroes in the Winchester’s lives, who come in all shapes and sizes…a character like that… UGH. He was the worst! I didn’t like him, instantly! Corbin was horrible. AND THEN…. HE KILLED SAM. (Sorta.) 

This was about when the feeling like I was gunna puke kicked in. 

As soon as Dean stepped out of the cabin to get the wood to build something to transport Sammy on, my impending doom levels skyrocketed. I knew that bastard was going to try something! But to actually smother Sam? Sam, who was trying to tell them to go get Dean and get out of there. Sam who was thinking about them, over his own dying self! He looked Sam in the eyes, as Sam flailed and struggled below him…he looked Sam right in the eyes as he murdered him. Pretty sure Corbin is the worst monster that has ever appeared on Supernatural. I don’t care if he was bitten by a werewolf or not, my knotted up gut says, he would have done that anyway. 

The expletives that shot out of my mouth during that scene shocked even me. Every bad word came out in a vitriolic string…even the ones you’re not supposed to say (truthfully, I say all the words). I was screaming for Dean…screaming like there might be a chance he could hear me! I couldn’t believe what was happening. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t even think straight. I started to kind of hyperventilate. Then Dean came back, and I lost it… 

Seeing Dean see Sam like that…no no no no to infinity and beyond. The way he gently shook him, the way he said “Sammy?”, all small and frightened. I was dying a little with every second that ticked by…as Dean looked down on his dead brother. 

When my dad died a few years back, he died suddenly, out of the blue. He died at home while my mum was out walking the dog. She came back and found him on the floor. When I arrived at my mum’s all shocked and freaked and not exactly knowing what was happening because, what and no and what, mum suggested I go and see him. I remember her saying to me, “He just looks like he’s asleep”, and I remember there were police and ambulance people there around me, and I was just backing away going “NO NO NO!” I knew, in that moment, through all the confusion, I did not want to look down at the lifeless body of my dad, I didn’t want that to be my last memory, and I’m forever thankful it wasn’t. 

Maybe that’s why this scene killed me. The utter disbelief on Dean’s face at what he was seeing. Through all his panic, you could see he never expected this outcome. Ever. Sam and Dean don’t die. Sam doesn’t die. Yet there was his little brother, lifeless on the floor, as Dean desperately tried to find a pulse. The look on his face is forever burnt into my memory...thanks for that!

And then he was defiant, as he is; with nothing left to live for let them come he’ll fight them to the death, who cares…until the hero in him rises up again and takes over, he's still got a job to do…and he leans in close and whispers to his brother that he’ll be back, a small, gentle, smile on his lips to reassure the person he loves more than anything…who can no longer hear him. And then that last look back, as he walked out the door…the grief and disbelief. I thought… FUCK YOU SHOW...I'M OUT

BUT IT GOT WORSE! (And of course I stayed….) 

I wanted to join Dean in punching that sheriff in the face! (This episode made me hyper violent!) What an ass that sheriff was. He didn’t even listen to Dean when he said he needed to get back to his brother. That was important information! There was another person needing help! The sheriff should have taken a breath and listened instead of just yelling at everyone. What an idiot. AND THEN HE TASERS DEAN. Seriously, this might have to go down as Dean’s worst day ever! I hollered like some animal! If I could have crawled through my TV to free Dean, or get to that cabin to Sam, OR BOTH, I would have. Now Sam’s all alone dead(ish) on the floor…and Dean is trapped! NO NO NO NO! CURSE YOU BERENS AND DABB *shakes fist*

*whispers* but…it got worse. 

I assumed from the promo that it was Sam that Billie the Reaper came after…I think we all did, but we got well and truly duped. 

When Dean wakes up in hospital and you see the devastation all over his face as he talks to Michelle, I just wanted to throw up...the agony seeped out of every one of his pores. Oh Dean. I still wasn't sure what was going to happen or where we were going, I was waiting for Billie to appear at the cabin! Then that light bulb went on over Dean's head…and I groaned. So Billie was coming for Dean. Which means... Fuck.

Then as we pan up Sam’s prone body…as Dean is about to swallow a handful of pills…Sam comes back to life…and I gasped out a tortured, “Romeo and Juliet”! It was Romeo and Juliet. Oh. My. God. I always say that Supernatural is the epic love story of Sam and Dean… 

Meanwhile…Sam is up staggering around, and still bleeding out as he fights off a TWO WEREWOLVES, and yeah...Dean is convulsing and frothing on the floor. The frothing and convulsing was too real. Too real. TOO REAL AND TOO MUCH! Really, that was too much. I never needed to see Dean like that...EVER! I couldn't draw a breath through my shock....then...

Cue Billie the Reaper. 

You know…I used to like Billie! Not so much now. She's vindictive and scary! I wasn’t mad at her coming for Dean, I wasn’t even mad at her for not wanting to do a deal, fair enough, that's her job and she did warn them, no more second chances – but saying she’s going to throw Dean into the empty? Sure, he killed her boss (we all assume), but how about all the lives he’s saved, the world he’s saved, over and over. He doesn’t deserve to be tossed into some void to suffer for eternity just because she’s got the shits with him! She probably shouldn’t have told him Sam was alive if she truly wanted to reap him…because, defiant Dean arced up again and zoomed straight back into his body - his brother was need to stay dead! Dealing time was done! Gotta get back to Sam! Thanks Doc for the jab to his heart at exactly the right moment! Suck it Billie! (I am suss of Billie and her true intent, there's more to her I'm sure...check the comments for a few of my thoughts.)

Meanwhile…Sam is free and still stumbling and still bleeding and trying to get to his brother because he knows that Corbin-the-douche is a werewolf and he has to warn Dean! Let’s all just say this together shall we?


The moment Sam reached the Impala, I said in a gurggly voice, "He’s home.” The relief I felt seeing Sam at that car was nearly overwhelming. Even though I knew he was far from out of the woods (both figuratively and literally), she’d get him to where he needed to go I had no doubt of that. Then he rang Dean as Dean rang him…and I was starting to feel a tiny bit better…until Dean heard Sammy’s voice and bent over and breathed out, “Oh God”. OH. GOD. Well stick a fork in me, I’m done! The tears started up again and didn’t really stop. 

When Sam actually saved Dean(!!)…who had crash tackled a werewolf only minutes after ODing and being dead(!!)...for the first time in around 40 minutes, I stopped internally screaming and exhaled. Because Dean made a silly bro joke, and the brothers were together, and now I knew it would be okay (even though intellectually of course, I always knew it was always going to be okay). And once again Sam showed Dean in no uncertain terms, he is there for him, matter what, he has his brother's back *happy sigh*

As they stumbled to the car, Dean’s hand on his Sam’s back, I thought…pretty sure Sam shouldn’t be going home yet, or Dean come to think of it! Oh well! Let’s just get these two back to the bunker STAT! Dean didn’t tell Sam about the Billie incident, I don’t blame him, they'd been through enough trauma that day, and maybe that’s a truth for another time...right now just get them the hell out of there and roll the damn credits for God’s sake because seriously I can’t take a minute more of this emotion! I need a little lie down! 

I sat on my bed in silence for about an hour and a half, faffing online. Usually, I’d probably watch the episode again pretty quickly after the first viewing, but I was spent. I was shaken by “Red Meat”. I couldn’t help but wonder what I'll do if they kill one or both of the Winchesters for real at the end of the series? How would I cope with that? I don’t think I would. I don't think I could! I was seriously freaked out and totally, and utterly exhausted. 

Then, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I watched it again. 

Knowing what was going to happen took the edge right off it, thank God, and I could now enjoy what was truly a fantastic episode. 

I was shocked to see I missed chunks of the ep out of sheer stress! The jokey camping/freezing nuts scene…I didn’t even remember seeing that…and I hadn’t moved so I must have! I didn’t remember seeing the werewolves finding the dead werewolves either…and like I said, I hadn’t moved so I must have! That was the level of distress I was in I guess. I just couldn’t absorb everything that was happening because I was just too overwhelmed by feels for my boys. 

The actors who played Michelle and Corbin were wonderful…you can’t make me hate you so hard if you’re not doing your job! The final scene between Michelle and Dean was heart wrenching and absolutely true…she was speaking about herself, but of course she might as well have been speaking about Dean, seeing the man he loves dead on the floor.... Had Sam not been only mostly dead (Princess Bride reference FTW), Dean would never find normal again *whimpers at the thought*. 

Jensen and Jared were particularly mind blowing. These two a such great actors. Seriously, can someone give them all the awards? I never for one second did not believe and feel in every part of my being, their pain, both physical and emotional. Their performances were raw and honest and real and powerful. I bet you anything, that moment Dean got tangled in the tree and yelled at it was Jensen being Dean. After hearing him talk about moments like that in his meet and greet at Vegascon, I’m pretty sure that’s where Dean just took over. It was such a truthful moment…when in frustration you yell at an inanimate object! And the episode was full of that kind of truth. Both boys did an amazing job at conveying the trauma their characters were going through. Stunning, stunning work. We're so lucky to have them.

Big ups to the director, Nina Lopez-Corrado whose fabulous direction of the fight scenes, as well as the emotionally impactful scenes, and the generally unforgiving pace of everything that was happening, really added to my pain! So great work, come back…but be gentler with us next time! 

And yes…even though I don’t think they should be allowed to play in the same sandbox every again, I love both Andrew Dabb and Bob Berens, both are exceptional writers, and the writing on this episode was fantastic. It was a great story and they nailed every feeling those boys felt for each other, and every word that was said…broken record time, season 11 Sam and Dean are THE BEST. 

And then to finish off the night…I went and watched Jensen and Jared’s Facebook videos…which managed to make my heart race in a completely different way. Jensen not being able to figure out how to turn off his video feed was the best thing ever. Crap. Bless his heart. 

“Red Meat” reinforced to me how invested I am in Supernatural, and how thoroughly invested I am in Sam and Dean Winchester and their wild and beautiful journey. It can be horribly painful sometimes, but I’m so thankful that I have this show and these characters and the two men who play them, in my life…and the fandom, who understands my sweary feels. I'm in deep...and I couldn't be happier about it.

So yeah…”Red Meat” was amazing. I loved it (later). I honestly don’t believe I have ever been so traumatised by an hour of television in my life…from the beginning to the end, I was on edge and wildly uncomfortable! Another brilliant episode in a brilliant season. Just, let’s not do anything like that again, ‘k Show? Thanking you in advance for my emotional sanity. 


Here's a little something from Bob Berens about that tree grabbing Dean scene :)


  1. Great review. I LOVED this ep. My only criticism is that it was begging for a bro hug. Come on writers, give us a break!

  2. Oh, I so know what you mean. I knew that Sam and Dean would be okay, because season 12, lol. But it was so real and so believable that I was sobbing and shaking. I don't think any other episode apart from Swan Song has impacted me as much. I also think that, like you, it made me reflect on the eventual 'end' of Supernatural. I now know how I'm going to feel if they go out in a blaze of glory. I now know how hard it will be to let go of this little show... but hopefully not for a couple of years (episode 300 please :)).

    Amy, you talking about your Dad made me cry. My Dad died suddenly too, and I had the chance to see him in the funeral home, but chose not to. For the same reasons... I wanted to remember him the way I loved him. I wanted to remember our final conversation which was about Harry Potter and the Essendon Football Club, lol. I miss him so much.

    One final thing, I'm intrigued by Billie. On the one hand, I hate her and, if the boys do go out in a blaze of glory at the end (chuck help us), she can't be around. I cannot have Sam & Dean in the empty. They have to be still alive and hunting, or, if the worst has happened, I need them to be at peace.

    Argh... talking about this is painful.

    Anyhow, back to Billie. I'm not convinced that she's really being truthful with Sam and Dean. I think she wants Sam & Dean alive, so she's warning them to not die (if that makes any sense). Think about it. She gave Sam the clue he needed to find a way to cure himself. She gave Dean the exact words he needed about Sam being alive to get him to wake up. I think there might be more to Billie than meets the eye. Food for thought.

    Hopefully next week's episode will be lollipops and candycanes (lol, yes, I'm delusional).

    1. I actually think that about Billie too...I'm suspicious of her actual intent...because either she's just a vindictive cow, or she is giving them little hints when they need it. She's told them both about the empty now, and surely that is the best place for The Darkness...and I also wondered later if she specifically told Dean about Sam to snap him out of it...she must know they are needed for this fight...but then again, maybe she's just as mad as hell at them and really, really wants to reap them bad! I can't tell! And in this episode I just got an attack of the Ripley's "GET AWAY FROM HIM, YOU BITCH!" :D Either way, as you say, she can not be around, because if they do die, she will take them!

      Big hugs to you about your dad, it's sucks ass so hard. I spoke to dad for about 45 minutes the night before he died and it was our usual full of crap conversation; he was thinking about buying a new car and was trying to talk me into getting one, because he thought he'd get a better deal if we got two! I still laugh at the absurdity of that man's mind! I miss him horribly.

      LOLLYPOPS AND CANDYCANES NEXT WEEK! YAY! (so not going to happen).


  3. Loved your review as always, Amy!! I also had nearly a full on heart attack with this episode, wow just wow!! As always, both Jensen and Jared amazing. Jensen's eyes, man he kills me with his acting every time!! When he tried to wake Sammy, his expression, god I was a sobbing mess on the floor!! I must confess I'm worried for Dean state of mind at the moment. He seems very depressed, lost even and I confess the pill scene, shattered me, I yelled NO Dean, my poor neighbours, lol!! Also, I too think Billie is up to more than she's letting on, but I confess I love her, Lisa Berry rocks this role. Loved this episode, but can't wait to get back to Amara story. Bring on next week!!

  4. It was an unforgettable episode. They relly upped the ante, but I don't know... Is "devastated" a strong enough word to express how I felt? Ugh, I even didn't notice, and didn't complain either, when in hospital Dean was being treated with his shirt still on. All this was of no importance at the moment! And of course, I shouldn't have read your review Sweetondean. Now I'm in tears again. Thank you.

  5. Oh Amy, Oh Amy. Why doist I read your reviews so I can feel it all again. I don't know. You are addictive.

    Everything you said ditto a hundred times a hundred. There weren't even words to describe it all when it was over so I'm so glad you do it for me. Funny thing is, before the show I was trying to calm my friend who is a super big Sam girl. Because of the promos she was so worried. I told her for some reason I was not because we know they are still filming.

    OMG, did I eat my words. I was a shouting, screaming, crying, swearing mess for 50 minutes. Knowing they couldn't really die did NOT in any way diminish the fear, angst and emotions. How can an hour of TV do that to me? That is a rhetorical question really. LOL. I said words I haven't said since college! And believe me that was a LONG time ago. I was at a friend's house and her daughter came upstairs to see what was wrong. I was thrashing all over the floor 2 feet in front of the TV and her mom was sitting in a daze not breathing.

    If this was episode 17 I don't know if I'll survive the finale, which Jason Fischer said was 'VERY DARK'! And I might as well just make funeral arrangements now for when the show, dare I say it, comes to an end.

    Thanks for your wonderful prose. But now my stomach is all worked up again! :/

  6. I have already watched this episode five times. I have never done that so immediately (usually only twice the week of). I can't get enough, and it is an emotional ride every time. This is officially in my top five episodes, and I didn't think that was possible anymore. Thank you so much for your review; you put into words what I've been struggling to explain to my husband, dog, and toddler all week: this episode, ugh!!!

  7. Can I just say holy crap someone who knows what I went through with my dad. Both my mom and I found my dad when he died in his sleep in his chair. I never knew found someone else who went through same thing and its terrible because now I watch my mom like a hawk is she breathing. Sorry just strange to relate with someone on that level. And your reviews are great and agree with you about Corbin holy crap I never thought he would suffocate sam I was just like crap and oh crap dean is going to come in and find him and ugh lost it from there. I find right now can't watch this episode just yet but enjoyed the cast live tweeting Wednesday night and now babbling.

  8. I can't imagine the collective fandom adrenalin levels during that episode. It was so painful and so wonderful. I too was shocked by how much hate I felt for Corbin, and the sheriff! Jensen did such a good job conveying Dean's panic; it was a level of anxiety and near helplessness we hadn't seen before and it made me feel awful. Jared was nothing short of amazing; I was so impressed by him, again. Supporting roles were great too. I watched it multiple times Thursday and then tried to make coworkers understand why I couldn't stop talking about it Friday. Still recovering...thanks for the spot on review!