Family Matters, by Elle2
This is an episode that helps me to understand a comment Jensen said earlier about so much being in the episodes that there just wasnâ€™t enough time. When I first watched this episode I thought, this is boring, disjointed, disconnected, poorly timed, way too talky and frustrating. Upon my second viewing it got a bit better, still feels like three distinct â€˜momentsâ€™ throughout the episode and there is a lot of talk but I also think because of the massive amounts of reveals in this episode it sort of had to be that way.
Iâ€™m trying to keep score here, Iâ€™ll do my best, please add to what Iâ€™ve missed:
Crowley is the grand puppeteer; he pulled Samuel down because of his vast hunting expertise
Crowley has some hold over Samuel besides Sam and Dean
Crowley yanked Sam up because apparently he needs the Winchester line as well as the Campbell line (it better be that, otherwise Sam and Dean are poorly connected to this storyline)
Samâ€™s soul remains in the cage (I hope it doesnâ€™t stay there all season or longer)
Crowley didnâ€™t need Bobbyâ€™s vast wealth of knowledge because although he owned his soul, Crowley never used Bobby to gain any of his alpha prizes â€“ and bad news abounds, the Winchesters and Bobby have given up what would have been excellent bargaining chips by allowing Crowley his bones back for safe keeping, too bad they didnâ€™t know what was what back then.
Alpha monsters know where purgatory is
Crowley wants to expand his territory
Cas still has a civil war but will pop in and out to help Sam and Dean. Not sure why Dean is written so OCC with Cas thoughâ€¦ â€œClean him up.â€ Is definitely out of character as well as Casâ€™ â€œOf course, your problems come first.â€ Something is very wrong with the tone of these two at least in this episode.
Christian has been a demon muppet from the get go â€“ although that means he should have been able to sense Sam and Dean hiding rather than leave them be and yes, Cas also should have recognized him for the demon he was/is
One of the vampires yelled â€œDeanâ€ just before getting slaughteredâ€¦what is that? (Chime in here, folks, I swear I heard her yell Dean the first time I watched this and then Iâ€™ve replayed that moment at least six times and I still hear her scream â€œDeanâ€)
What else is going on? I have no idea. As I said this seems to be in three parts, Samâ€™s diagnosis and the â€˜first family meetingâ€™, then there is the vampire hunt and finally the long and talky scenes with the alpha vampire and Crowleyâ€™s big reveal. In between there are little moments between the brothers when I can see the beginnings of a partnership, a glimmer.
Weâ€™ve seen this opener for several days so there isnâ€™t anything surprising in the teaser. However, having all three main men back together always works for me so I enjoyed their moment immensely. I was hoping this season wouldnâ€™t be more of Dean driving the bus and Sam as passenger but I guess thatâ€™s where the story is going for now and at least there is a plausible reason rather than Sam is doing penance and Dean is all broody and unforgiving.
Sure, Dean has plenty to brood about and Sam does need to repair some damage but there is the interesting philosophical question lingering, what exactly is Sam and how conscious is he of his actions? We get a few answers in this episode and I find myself more and more positive about them than I had thought I would be. If I were Dean (and as a viewer) I still wouldnâ€™t trust Sam because itâ€™s apparent that he has no compass without a soul. While Sam does show that heâ€™s not just going to be lead around on a rope (speaking of rope, just how did he untie himself? Dean is too good a hunter to simply not tie the bonds correctly) and that he will choose to be with Dean, itâ€™s clear heâ€™s still hazy on what exactly it means to be a partner.
Iâ€™m alternately frustrated and proud of Sam in this episode. It frustrates me that he didnâ€™t tell Dean about the alpha vampire being caught and that he bald-faced lied yet again about it to Deanâ€¦yes, Iâ€™m saying that Dean asking if there was anything weird and Sam saying no is a bald-faced lie. Iâ€™m sure there are plenty that can split hairs with me on that, thatâ€™s okay. I stand by my assessment; feel free to stand by yours. On the other hand, Iâ€™m proud that Sam decided to work with Dean, he clearly didnâ€™t have to and Dean did give him the out. Also, Sam had no difficulty backing Dean up when Dean disarmed Samuel and Christian was heading in for the attack on Dean. Furthermore, I like that compass or not Sam can still innovate when the situation calls for it. Soulless Sam isnâ€™t mindless Sam as we see by his activation of the GPS. Good to know.
Sam has had rational (albeit cold) reasons for his behaviors this season. Soulless Sam obviously does not concern himself with the ramifications of his choices besides what they gain in the end. Dean gets turned into a vampire because it allows them to find the vampire lair, never mind what it does to Dean. Sam allows Aaron to be tortured because it gets them the information they need, never mind that Aaron is in pain and frightened. Sam doesnâ€™t tell Dean about Samuel capturing the alphas because heâ€™s on board with the whole capturing of alphas to gain information, never mind that what happens after the alphas are captures is shady at best. Sam has become much more tactical this season with his sights on the bigger picture, even as he does not know what that bigger picture is. However, the ends do not always justify the means and one must weigh the cost, analyze the situation and allow for differing points of view. The Sam of earlier seasons would have done that, remember Bloodlust anyone?
Itâ€™s good that Dean and Sam are back together, however tenuous that partnership is, for they do balance each other.
Iâ€™m glad that Samuel truly cares about Sam and Dean that too is good to know. He is hiding something and that is not so good but we saw this aspect of Samuel when we first met him so Iâ€™m not surprised. Also, itâ€™s a lot like John Winchester, wonder how long before the same old resentments burble up to the surfaceâ€¦well, actually they already have only this time Dean is demanding the answers. Hmm, interesting stuff.
So Crowley is pulling all the strings, hmm, the more things change the more they stay the same. Azazel worked behind the scenes in the past, Crowley is apparently much more comfortable being out in the open. But demons will bone you every time at least this time both Sam and Dean are going forward with their eyes wide open.
So what of the brothers? Well, there is a long, long, long way to go but there were two moments that showed me that both brothers want to get their bond back. First up, Sam (after mysteriously freeing himself from the ropes) makes it known that there is no containing him, so Dean opts to work with him but heâ€™s watching his every move which Sam accepts. Later on Dean gives Sam a choice, leave or stay with him but he (Dean) is driving the bus. Sam agrees to stay. Both brothers had a chance to walk away, both opted to stay together.
There is a common goal, get Samâ€™s soul back, after that they can hunt down Crowley. Sam is the one who asks the final question of the episode, in essence, â€œAre you with me, Dean?â€ There isnâ€™t an answer but since next week has them togetherâ€¦
Some other interesting/fun moments:
â€œHello, Neuman.â€ Hah! Love a good Seinfeld reference.
While Sam is willing to allow a kid to be tortured and his brother be turned into a vampire he isnâ€™t so thrilled with betrayal, were it not for Deanâ€™s not-shoot-first-but-rather-ask-a-question, Grandpa Samuel would be dead.
â€œExplain it to me again, like Iâ€™m five.â€ LOL
â€œHe still thinks Velcro is a big deal.â€
And any brotherly moments in or around the Impala work for me.
Iâ€™m interested where this is going, Casâ€™ civil war is very much on the backburner but there are tidbits dropped (mainly by Misha in interviews) that he is in many more episodes in the second half of the season. So, do we conclude the Crowley has Samâ€™s soul part in the first half of the season? I hope so. I would like Sam to get his soul back sooner rather than later mostly because thus far I think everyone has handled the Sam has no â€˜feelings/emotionsâ€™ pretty consistently but to have him simply be a robot isnâ€™t very interesting (heâ€™s no Data nor do I want him to be) and further, it will keep any brotherly bonding completely nonexistent. How does Dean bond with Sam who has no feelings and how do we as viewers find any connection with soulless Sam?
Better to have him get his soul back but find that the heavenly civil war and whatever deal Samuel is working for become the focus. The Winchesters are loyal to family and, if Samuel isnâ€™t working against them but perhaps is working to protecting Mary (hey, Ash said he couldnâ€™t find her in heaven), then perhaps that will be interesting enough to keep all the Campbells and Winchesters (and Bobby Singer) working together.
Again, Loflin and Dabb remain consistently inconsistent as writers, this isnâ€™t terrible but it isnâ€™t greatâ€¦but, I do put a but here, this episode has grown on me in just 24 hours and I do believe that it will continue to grow on me (and not in a moldy sort of way either.) There were some great shots that I enjoyed, perhaps the coolest for me was the simple closing of Samâ€™s computer which brings us to the crane shot of the Impala entering the outer area of a buildingâ€¦brought to mind the same scenery of What is and What Should Never Be outside the warehouse.
We didnâ€™t get as much fancy footwork (or wingwork) of Castiel but the demon moments worked abruptly enough, although Iâ€™ll admit I was confused, thus a second viewing.
Itâ€™s the long drawn out dialogue that drags down the pace of this episode as well as the darkness which made it confusing to understand just what the big deal was with the vampireâ€™s long nail. I didnâ€™t get that his nail was somehow cutting through the iron shackles but perhaps I just need to brush up on my vampire lore. Also, (and I know Iâ€™ve written this twice above) but really, was Sam simply able to untie himself or does he have some superhuman strength as well? That set up just wasnâ€™t done well.
More pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, we have four more episodes until winter hellatus arrives (with one repeat of Exile on Main Street on November 26th, day after Thanksgiving here in the States). Hope we get some more answers, perhaps a soul returned and some real brotherly bondingâ€¦I know, itâ€™s a tall order. I live in hope.
I wonâ€™t grade this episode, actually I know I have graded a few this season but I really do try to stay away from that for I believe that itâ€™s best to grade the season as a whole, I liked it more than I didnâ€™t and repeat viewings will be necessary to gather all that is packed into this 42 or so minutes. I will say that despite my dislike for Episode 5 (mostly because it was so depressing) I like how this season is going thus far. Every week reveals a bit or two (or more) of the puzzle and the slow but ever forward pace keeps me intrigued. Season 6 is going well.
Bring on All Dogs Go To Heaven.
Thanks for reading, Elle2