At the end of “Hibbing 911,” Sheriff Hanscum tells Sheriff Mills, “Knowing that these things are out there, makes the world seem — I don’t know, bigger, darker.” In many ways, the world of Supernatural is expanding in season ten. With additions such as Cole and Rowena to Sam calling upon various hunters, the universe seems to be growing in all directions. In this episode, we see Sheriff Donna Hanscum—a character we met in season nine—learn the truth about the world she inhabits. In turn, we see Sam and Dean also gain yet another ally and friend. And yet, the storyline has much more complexity than that. The case that opens Sheriff Hanscum’s eyes also reflects so well what is underlying season ten: Dean and the Mark of Cain. Throughout, we see it touched upon in various ways and through various characters. It is through these reflections that we can see the “bigger, darker” world of Supernatural—and how it is truly impacting Sam and Dean themselves.
First, let’s look at the case that draws the Winchesters to Hibbing in the first place.
The episode begins with a young man vandalizing a building with graffiti. He’s using a stencil of a smiley face, painting it multiple times onto the brick. It’s clear that he has no shame or fear of anyone learning his identity since he’s wearing the same symbol on his belt buckle. As he’s about to paint his third face, he’s brutally attacked, leaving the town of Hibbing to figure out who—or what—may have done this.
Before the investigation can take place, however, we see a familiar face approach a very different building with great trepidation: Sheriff Jody Mills. She’s in town for a Sheriff’s retreat, and would only like to “get through this.” It’s supposed to be a boring work obligation, a weekend where she endures hearing about law enforcement in the upper Midwest so she can bring home that knowledge to Sioux Falls. As she enters the hotel, she encounters another familiar face to the audience: that of Sheriff Donna Hanscum, the Fargo-like Minnesotan sheriff from “The Purge.”
Sheriff Hanscum is as eager as she was in her first appearance. She spots her new arrival and enthusiastically says, “Welcome, welcome!” As Sheriff Mills prepares to check in, she offers a sucker—one she won’t let the Sheriff of Sioux Falls refuse. And as they’re told to break up into partners, Sheriff Hanscum quickly chooses Sheriff Mills.
Before they can peruse the various summits that make up the retreat—with clever names like “The Snow Must Go On,” and “Preparing For a Riot, Why Not Try It”—they’re told about the victim killed the night before—the same one we saw painting buildings. As they’re both in law enforcement, they’re intrigued. They’re told it’s an animal attack—an animal that feasted until there was “nothing left but the peach pit.” Sheriff Hanscum is puzzled by what might have done this and asks if there were any hairs on the body. When she’s told no, Sheriff Mills instantly realizes that there’s something more going on than any run of the mill animal attack. The area of Hibbing may have “kept our critters in check” when Sheriff Hanscum lived there, but this doesn’t seem to be the doing of any normal critter.
Sheriff Mills excuses herself to inform Sam that there may be a case. As Sam and Dean are stalled on any leads to understanding the Mark of Cain or how to potentially remove or neutralize it, Dean cajoles his brother into making the trek up to Minnesota to lend Sheriff Mills a hand. He turns the tables on Sam, using a tactic the younger Winchester has used on him multiple times: puppy eyes. From the description of the attack, they assume it can’t be a vampire, but think it’s worth it to “take a drive” anyways.
As they make the long drive, both Sheriffs visit the morgue to take a look at their victim. The information was correct: his torso had been almost completely eaten. For an animal attack, though, there’s an oddity that confirms Sherrif Mills’s suspicions. No animal would steal anything from the body to keep as a souvenir, and yet this one has stolen the victim’s belt. Combine that with the bites being unrecognizable to the long time “hunter” Sheriff Hanscum, and it’s turning up more and more monster all the time.
Once the Winchesters arrive on scene, however, we see them have to deal with the over abundance of local and regional law enforcement to gather their information. They talk to the Sheriff of Hibbing, Len Cuse, and discover that animal control is taking the lead on this. They’re also told that there’s no footage of the attack—or of the second one that took place. The deputy even goes as far as to mock the FBI for wasting its precious time and resources on a “bobcat.”
And yet, there’s more to the story than that. Dean learns that Sheriff Cuse recently changed the password to the security cameras, that the footage that may have existed was only accessible to him and no one else on the force. It sends up red flags that there’s far more going on here than meets the eye, and they’re now going to have to hack the server to see just what the Sheriff of Hibbing is trying keep secret.
The hack itself comes up empty, confining their suspicions all the more: there is a hunt here. After all, the video files had been deleted. If Sheriff Cuse was the only one with access, he’s the only one who would have done it. Now they have to find out why.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Hanscum goes to get air after a confrontation with her ex-husband and Sheriff Mills only to see the truth of the matter. She follows a trail of blood, finding Sheriff Cuse standing over another dead Sheriff—and that’s not all. He’s sporting vampire teeth—something that stuns Sheriff Hanscum. She immediately returns to Sheriff Mills, who is talking with the Winchesters, to pull her aside.
Sheriff Hanscum is shaken by what she’s seen. She tells Sheriff Mills, “It was Sheriff Cuse. I saw him standing over Sheriff Goodhill’s body, and his mouth was full of shark teeth like some kind of—-”
If the other clues had pointed towards monster, this seals it. They’re dealing with a vampire after all. Sheriff Cuse is their guy, and Sheriff Mills calls the Winchesters to meet her and Sheriff Hanscum in his motel room—304—to figure out what to do next. If he’s here, that must mean there’s other vampires, too.
There, they find that the Sheriff of Hibbing had written down an address only revealed after Sheriff Hanscum colors over it in pencil. The door starts to open and Sheriff Mills draws a machete, certain that she may need it to face Sheriff Cuse—only to find that its the Winchesters. The action shocks the Sheriff of Stillwater, although she draws her own gun in answer. They had wanted to keep Sheriff Hanscum out of this, but now that she’s seen a vampire it’s too late. Sam and Dean leave it up to Sheriff Mills to “give her the talk.”
Armed with the address Sheriff Hanscum discovered, the group make their way towards it. This has to be the nest Sheriff Cuse belongs to and if they’re going to handle this situation they had better move fast. They will have to eliminate it all if they truly hope to stop the killings happening in Hibbing. Considering the shady behavior of Sheriff Cuse, they know he more than likely won’t stop it.
Unfortunately, they’re ambushed before they can really confront him, dragged into the very nest they intended to attack.
The leader of the nest is a girl Sheriff Mills met outside the retreat. Her name is Starr and she’s been looking for Sheriff Cuse for a long time. He had been their original leader, the one that taught them to eat everything of their kills. They’ve wanted to bring him back into the fold—or punish him for leaving. When they learn that he’s not only stopped killing but became a cop, they’re disgusted by him. They can’t believe that he would stop killing or rely upon bagged blood. To Starr, it’s like a “tiger eating salad.”
However, Starr will overlook his transgressions if he’ll return to killing—starting with the hostages they’ve captured. They’re not going to do it for him. If he’s going to prove himself to them that he’ll give up his pacifist ways and return to his nature, he’ll have to be the one that starts the “bloodbath.”
When he refuses, Starr brutally beheads him.
This gives Dean and Sherrif Hanscum enough time to break free. Dean quickly starts to fight his way through the other vampires in the nest. Just as Starr is about to attack Sheriff Mills, she’s cut down to reveal Sheriff Hanscum on the other side. It earns her praise from Dean when he says, “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”
Once the nest was eliminated, it left yet another person brought into the world of hunting: Sheriff Donna Hanscum.
With her entrance into the hunter’s world, we’re seeing the world of Supernatural expand yet again in season ten. She is now aware of how much “bigger and darker” the world is. Sheriff Hanscum may be new to this world, but it’s clear that she can become yet another ally in the small and organically growing hunter network the Winchesters call upon—much as Sam called on them while searching for Dean. He may have rubbed some the wrong way—or “punched” as he admits to Dean—but with someone like Sheriff Hanscum in their network they have yet another member of law enforcement that can help them, too.
Sheriff Mills offers to tell Sheriff Hanscum “what kills what” and she accepts happily. It’s clear that now that she knows about these things she’ll be using her badge to help “keep our critters in check” even if they’re not the normal variety. And as an ally in the Winchester’s growing network, she knows she can call them as Sheriff Mills did here if necessary.
So, how does this case and Sheriff Hanscum’s introduction to the world of the supernatural give us a chance to reflect on the season story? What does it say about Dean, the Mark of Cain, and Sam’s role as care giver?
First, let’s look at the two main Sheriffs in “Hibbing 911.” In many ways, we see Sheriff Hanscum and Sheriff Mills as reflections of one another. After all, they were both unaware at some point of the reality going on around them. And, they’ve also lost a husband—albeit in much different ways. It’s this reflection that allows the two of them to bond, even if they are opposite in personality and approach. Sheriff Hanscum is eager and excitable. She wants to be Sheriff Mills’s friend badly. Sheriff Mills, on the other hand, is simply trying to get through this retreat and the discovered monster hunt in one piece so she can return home to Alex. She’s much more reserved and nonplussed by the entire weekend.
Sheriff Hanscum is obviously in pain as she’s forced to watch her ex-husband flirt with another woman. It confuses Sheriff Mills, considering that as far as she’s concerned, Doug “is a dick.” And after she confronts Doug on being a “douche,” Sheriff Hanscum has an angry outburst. She snaps at Sheriff Mills, “How about this — until you’ve actually lost a husband, how about you keep your mouth zipped about mine. ” The comment cuts deeply without her realizing. Sheriff Mills staggers for a moment, lost in the horrific memories of what happened to her husband and son—and how hard it’s been to move beyond that in the years that have followed. While they end up patching this misunderstanding up, we can see how they reflect one another as they both struggle to come to grips with what they’ve lost.
When it comes to the case at hand, it’s fitting that Sheriff Mills is the one that gets to tell Sheriff Hanscum the truth about hunting and the supernatural. As she was ushered in by the Winchesters and a tragedy, she can make Sheriff Hanscum’s path smoother. Sheriff Mills can keep her informed on the various monsters, demons, and angels that may try to invade Stillwater. And, since they’re in neighboring states, it’s apparent they can rely on one another when things come up in their home areas. This is possible due to some of their common ground—their common reflection of one another.
But that’s only one layer of the reflection we see in “Hibbing 911.”
Starr, the vampire leader, stands in for a key symbol of season ten: the Mark of Cain. She seems harmless when we first meet her. She’s a young woman who seems down on her luck needing some help. She’s innocuous the way she holds her money cup and smiles demurely at the donation Sheriff Mills places into it. In many ways, the Mark itself seems much the same. It’s quietly there on Dean’s arm, doing nothing. Without the First Blade, it can’t glow and it can’t really make its presence known. Like Starr, it seems to be biding its time before it makes its big strike.
To build upon Starr’s reflection of the Mark of Cain, we see her make crucial statements as she taunts both Sheriff Cuse and Dean in particular. As Dean awakens, she tells him, “All of you will become all of us—we won’t waste one bit.” To further prove her point, she moves further into Dean’s space, going so far as to remove his belt as she must have their first victim in Hibbing. Dean wants nothing to do with her, and protests, “I’m not in the mood.”
It’s crucial that she say this to Dean and no one else. She may be referring to Sheriff Cuse’s teaching to consume the entirety of their prey, but underneath this line, we see the Mark of Cain speaking directly to Dean. It’s a metaphor for what it simply cannot say in the moment. It’s waiting to infect him completely, and when it does it has every intention of following through on the threat Starr makes here. Rather than eating Dean’s flesh and blood, though, the Mark of Cain fully intends on feasting upon Dean’s soul, corrupting it back into the demonic monster we last saw in “Soul Survivor.”
Starr also makes another key remark that points towards her reflection of the Mark of Cain. As she taunts her former nest leader—and probable sire—she tells him coldly, “We love you brother, but we don’t even know you anymore.” This statement might be easily seen as something Sam may have to say as the Mark continues to corrupt and change Dean going forward, but when we take in Starr’s comments about vampires not eating people as going against their nature, we can see that she’s really referring to the Mark’s lack of understanding in why Dean would not only resist but choose to redeem himself for what he’s done since coming into its possession.
Starr is not the only reflection we see, however. Sheriff Cuse himself stands in for Dean. Not only did he leave behind his vampiric lifestyle, he became a “damn cop.” It’s clear that Sheriff Cuse wanted to redeem himself for all the people he’s killed through the years. He begs Starr to let the hostages go. He tells her, his voice breaking, “Even if I used every part like I taught you—it was still wrong. I tried to protect people after so many years of gutting them.”
Somewhere along the way, Sheriff Cuse gained his conscience back. He didn’t simply live in obscurity raiding blood banks to curb his thirst—and it would seem he hasn’t turned to animals as Lenore’s nest once did. Instead, Sheriff Cuse chose to enter law enforcement as a means of redemption. He wanted to make up for all the time he had killed, for all the people he had hurt, and for the monster he had become.
Since his cure, Dean has been trying to do much the same. At every opportunity, he takes on a hunt to save someone else. It’s his way of making what he did while demonic right. He isn’t hunting simply because its his nature or because he wants to kill things—he’s doing it so he’ll redeem himself for killing and hurting innocents. If he can save others it may wash clean the sins he committed while corrupted by the disease that is the Mark of Cain.
Sheriff Cuse also choose to stop killing for the same reason, and yet he also chooses to kill for the nest again if it means saving some innocent lives. When Sheriff Cuse is shoved towards the hostages, Sheriff Mills tells him point blank, “You don’t have to do this.” While on his knees, we see him become defiant. He had told Starr he would rejoin her nest—but only if she let the hostages live. When she forced him to kill them, he outright refused. His beheading after this refusal may be a foreshadow. If she stands in as the Mark of Cain and Sheriff Cuse reflects Dean, then perhaps the Mark will seek retribution upon Dean for not serving its desires.
We know that this can be the case. Before his showdown with Metatron, Dean became ill enough to cough up blood after he failed to kill Gadreel. He was informed then that not killing could possibly lead to the Mark of Cain killing him. As Sheriff Cuse had to choose to kill in order to save others, it’s possible that Dean may give into the Mark, choosing to sate it so it won’t drive him to kill someone innocent—or worse, his own brother. He may find it the lesser of the two evils since they can’t seem to find any way to neutralize or remove it from his arm.
Throughout the episode, we see Dean’s story parallel the case. From the moment we first see him, to the last moment with him gripping his arm, we can sense that Dean’s on edge. While Starr may have pushed Sheriff Cuse with her words—and then her machete—it’s becoming obvious that the Mark is making Dean aggressive and irritable. He’s easily offended by the deputy’s claim that they’re there to handcuff a bobcat. He snaps, “Oh pal, the FBI doesn’t do cute.” And as we see him fight to get free in the nest, he is clearly about to burst. The Mark is whispering to him throughout, taunting him until it gets what it wants.
We also see Sheriff Mills reflect Sam. It is shown indirectly with her struggle to care for Alex and directly in her gentle conversation with Dean. We see her reach out to Alex several times through the episode, trying to make sure her adopted daughter is doing well in her absence. Alex seems to have gone from luring men for a vampire nest to smoking “grass under the bleachers.” She seems to have taken on many of the normal teenage habits of partying and defiance and rabble rousing. Even so, that doesn’t mean Sheriff Mills loses faith in her. She knows what Alex is going through and she knows that it is tough for the young woman—she’s been there in her own way, particularly with her own “hair up to here and attitude up to here” when she was Alex’s age. Combine that with Alex’s past, and it’s no wonder that Sheriff Mills tries to maintain some form of patience even if she’s struggling to keep Alex from going overboard.
In some ways, we’ve seen Sam try to do the same with Dean throughout this first half of season ten. He’s been patient, concerned, and hyper aware of any change in his brother. He wants to make sure Dean doesn’t succumb to the Mark that took him once already—and yet this task is not an easy one to undertake. His brother wants to hunt and that means he’ll end up killing. It’s inevitable. Sam supports him on this, going with him on hunts and finding ways to reach out to his brother as often as he can to prove that he isn’t going to give up on Dean or their building partnership. Much like Sheriff Mills, Sam knows that if he has any chance of keeping his brother intact, he’ll have to have faith in Dean the way she does in Alex. He’s done so in various ways—from relenting on not taking on jobs, to letting his brother hash things out with Cole, to making his first kill since the cure. Sam has shown his words are true by these actions.
He also understands—as Sheriff Mills does Alex—what his brother is enduring. Sam went through the same feelings of rage while addicted to demon blood. He knows how the Mark must make Dean feel on edge—and he notices his brother succumbing to it when Dean snaps at the local deputy. Rather than becoming defensive or aggressive, Sam simply points out, “But this time try to be a little less defensive of your ‘pretend job.’” It’s Sam’s attempt to pull Dean away from the edge—and it works as Dean goes back to the same deputy to say they “got off on the wrong foot” and learn the details about the surveillance tape.
Sheriff Mills also reflects Sam directly when we see her confront Dean about his time as a demon and how he’s holding up since. She’s gentle in her approach—and yet she brokers for no nonsense from the elder Winchester. Sheriff Mills won’t allow him to simply pretend it hadn’t happened. Much like Sam, though, she won’t push too hard on him. Instead, she chooses to leave the door open, telling him, “Just saying, I make a mean bowl of chowder if you ever need to talk.”
It has the desired effect: Dean knows he’s not alone.
We see this very sentiment reflected in Sam and Dean’s conversation at the conclusion of the episode. Sam is concerned about Dean and the Mark, and asks him, “You good?” This simple question without any accusations or suspicions is rewarded with an answer. Dean tells him that this is the first time since his cure that he doesn’t feel like the Mark is pushing him to kill. It’s possible that there’s a darker reason for this. The Mark may have been sated by his actions in the nest. And if it’s sated right now, it’s possible that Dean will need to kill more the next time to gain this feeling. He didn’t have to admit any of this to his brother, but because Sam was gentle about his question, it allowed Dean to open up even a little. He even goes on to say, “All I know is that back there, killing those vamps. I felt like me again.”
Sam accepts this answer, knowing that he’s lucky to have gotten this much from his brother. As caregiver, he’s had to learn the boundaries of when to ask, when to push, and when to back away. As we watch Dean clutch his arm, we know that there’s far more to the situation—as most certainly does Sam. The Mark is still an issue. It is still whispering and taunting Dean the way Starr did Sheriff Cuse. It may be sated for the moment, but how long before it decides to rear its ugly head again? How long before it decides to reflect Starr’s actions on Sheriff Cuse?
And will Sam be able to reach through to his brother when it becomes darkest?
Brianna Buckmaster returned as the enthusiastic Minnesotan sheriff, Donna Hanscum. She gives Donna such presence in this performance, connecting well with Rhodes, Ackles, and Padalecki each in turn. Buckmaster has great comedic timing, especially in how she connects with Rhodes. We can see it in the way Donna nearly smothers Jody, trying to make a fast friend. There’s a sweetness to Donna that Buckmaster cultivates in each scene. In Minnesota, there’s a phrase that Donna exemplifies from the moment she gives the sucker to Jody to the warm greeting she gives both Sam and Dean: Minnesota Nice. Donna may have the exaggerated Fargo styled accent, but she comes off as more Minnesotan in this performance than simply drooping an “Uff-dah.” Underneath that Minnesota Nice, Buckmaster shows us that Donna’s also tough. She’s no push over—despite her inability to tell her ex-husband to stuff it. This is clear first when she and Jody goes to the gun room. She’s non plussed by the gun seller’s claim that they can’t handle a bigger pistol. And Buckmaster shows that Donna’s not afraid to get her hands dirty when she learns the truth. She refuses to be left behind while the Winchesters handle the case. Buckmaster puts all of Donna’s grit into the line, “Stuff you, Dean, or whatever your name is!” Buckmaster doesn’t simply put Donna’s strength into her words. We see her put it into action when they’re caught in the vampire’s nest. First, she calls out the Sheriff, telling him that she saw him with his vampire teeth, but once she’s free we see her make her first vampire kill with panache. It’s all in Buckmaster’s grin over her shoulder. Donna may be Minnesota Nice personified, but she’s tough, too. Buckmaster also adds depth to Donna in “Hibbing 911.” She’s forced to confront her ex-husband, the very same one that left her when she gained too much weight. Under all the comedy we see Buckmaster employ, we can see Donna’s pain in small moments. It’s in her anger at Jody for launching into a verbal attack on Doug—especially in her cutting line, “How about this — until you’ve actually lost a husband, how about you keep your mouth zipped about mine. ” Buckmaster does it without words, too. When we see her exit outside and pause, Donna’s pain is clear all over her face. It makes Donna more real and less Fargo caricature. Now that Donna has been formally introduced to the world of hunting, it’s possible we’ll see the Sheriff of Stillwater, Minnesota again.
Kim Rhodes reprises the beloved role of Sheriff Jody Mills. From the first moment we see her standing in front of the Sheriff retreat filled with trepidation, we can’t help but laugh. Rhodes make Jody Mills an every woman in every scene. She may have encountered and faced the nightmares that fill the Winchester world, but we also see her deal with the every day in her calls to Alex. Rhodes has strong presence on screen, making us believe her at every step. We feel Jody’s dread, annoyance, and frustration just with a glance—particularly when she is confronted with Donna the first time. Rhodes has always made sure that Jody Mills is no nonsense. She won’t take crap from anyone, and when someone does something to push her buttons, she lets them know. Rhodes conveys this well in either a gesture or facial expression—arms crossed or indignant facial expressions—and again in actual dialog. We see this best when Doug has harassed Donna too far. Her angry interrogation about Doug being a douche is delivered with panache. Rhodes also breaks our hearts when Donna snaps at her about losing husbands. Even without the flashbacks to her husband and son’s tragic endings, Rhodes shows us all of Jody’s pain with just the tightness in her voice and the haunted look on her face. Even though it’s been years since it happened, we’re shown that it still feels fresh. Rhodes also makes Jody strong when she stands up to the Winchesters, particularly when she tells them that Donna’s “good.” Not many manage to go toe to toe with Sam and Dean, and yet Jody seems to in every case they share. Rhodes also shows us that Jody cares about them, too—especially when she tells Dean that she “makes a mean chowder,” offering him someone to turn to when he needs to talk about what happened to him with the Mark. While Jody hasn’t been a full time hunter, we can see her taking Donna under her wing after the slaughter in the vampire nest. She’s willing to forge their friendship past this retreat. Now that Jody has been brought in one case, hopefully we’ll see her again soon.
Jensen Ackles gave a layered performance as Dean in “Hibbing 911.” The first moment we see the Winchesters get wind of Jody’s hunt, Ackles gives us an eager Dean. He also shows us how observant the elder Winchester really is when he turns one of Sam’s greatest weapons back on him: the puppy eyes. In order to convince Sam that they should set aside the frustrating and fruitless search into the Mark of Cain, he gives him an imploring look that breaks Sam quickly. Ackles puts every ounce of humor into this moment that equally makes it funny and endearing all at once. In the rest of the episode, Ackles provides all the comedy the script asks for—from his amusement at Jody’s discomfort at being shadowed by Donna to his anger at the deputy questioning their badges and the FBI as an institution. We laugh at his indignation, conveyed wonderfully in his vocal tones and gestures. Ackles knows how to bring out the best laughs with the deliveries of his lines—especially the ad libbed line, “Yes you did. Be proud of that,” in response to Sam’s remarks about making their fake badges at Kinkos. It comes off as a great punch line to their discussion that leaves us laughing. And yet, Ackles also uses these moments as a vehicle to show us the story boiling under the surface for Dean. He conveys all the aggression building inside the elder Winchester. As the episode progresses, we can sense that Dean’s about ready to burst at the seams, so close to possibly launching into violence or worse. Ackles shows us that little things get under Dean’s skin—especially the deputy. His remark, “Yeah, maybe I’ll go crack the deputy, ” may come off as trademark Dean Winchester, but we can sense another layer underneath telling us there’s much more to the story. Dean’s somewhat aloof in the ways he talks to the deputy after Sam leaves—despite toning down his earlier anger. Dean may be trying to “get off on the right foot,” but he’s clearly trying to intimidate the man. There’s an impatience in his performance as Dean struggles to find any information on the Mark of Cain within the Men of Letter’s library. Ackles puts it all the way he says, “Aces. Yeah, I love the smell of parchment in the morning.” When they’re held by the vampires, as we watch him work on the rope holding him to the beam, Ackles makes sure to use these actions to show us Dean’s story. He’s frantic in the gestures, working fast to fray the rope. Ackles makes these bindings the physical representation for the emotional turmoil bubbling inside Dean. As he breaks free, we see Ackles show Dean’s small burst of violence well. He easily starts to attack and fight the vampires, making his attacks and counter moves elegant like a dance. In the aftermath, Ackles puts all of Dean’s emotions into his conversation with Sam. We can sense that Dean wants to believe that the Mark isn’t pushing him, that he wants to wish away the feelings he’s felt start to build all over again, and yet as he clutches the Mark, we can tell that he knows its starting again. Ackles puts so much into the gesture and we don’t need any words to know that Dean’s frightened by what might happen to him and Sam. Now that the Mark has pushed a bit further on Dean, we’re left to wonder how far it’ll make him go in the mid-season finale.
Jared Padalecki gave us an amused but concerned Sam in “Hibbing 911.” His subtle performance captured all of Sam’s comedic timing with Dean and Donna—but also allowed us to see just how aware Sam is of Dean’s emotional state at all times throughout. In the beginning, we see him try to help his brother in their search for anything on the Mark of Cain, and while they’re coming up empty, we see Padalecki show that Sam’s going to let his brother’s rant about the lack of information just roll off of him so Dean can safely blow off steam. When Jody Mills calls them, Padalecki puts all of Sam’s affection for the Sheriff of Sioux Falls into his voice—and his amusement at her predicament when he says “Enjoy the retreat.” As he hangs up, Padalecki switches to concern, begrudgingly accepting to go help Sheriff Mills. While on the case, Padalecki shows us that Sam’s focus is largely on his brother, watching him closely as he interacts with the other Sheriffs and deputies—particularly the deputy from Hibbing. The way he delivers the line, “Right. But this time try to be a little less defensive of your ‘pretend job,’” comes off as gentle as Sam tries to soften Dean’s edge. Padalecki has great chemistry with both Buckmaster and Rhodes, showing warmth and affection to Jody Mills upon greeting and amusement and wariness at meeting Sheriff Donna Hanscum yet again while on a case. As they continue to work it alongside the two, Padalecki shows us that Sam’s on the job—one to find the nest killing people in Hibbing and the other to keep his brother from getting too worked up. As we see him in the nest, unable to work his way out of his bonds, Padalecki uses this to convey Sam’s attention to his brother. They communicate silently by glances—and as he watches Dean break free and attack, we can see Padalecki put Sam’s worry into his expressions. Afterwards, Padalecki puts everything into the exchange Sam has with Dean. He’s gentle and quiet in the way he delivers the line, “You good?” There’s a patience and understanding in Padalecki’s facial expression as Sam listens to Dean’s answer, even if he does ask softly, “First time?” in response to Dean’s comment that it was the first time the Mark hadn’t pushed him. Rather than becoming defensive or combative, Padalecki shows us that Sam’s open to anything Dean will say here by his softened body language and facial expression. Padalecki captures all of Sam’s acceptance and patience in this scene, showing us that he’s willing to be there for Dean in whatever capacity he needs—be it listening or hunting. It’s the same strength Sam will need to have going into the mid-season finale.
Best Lines of the Week:
Donna: Stuff you, Dean! Or whatever your real name is.
Jody: Screw you, Winchester.
Dean: You know this badge means something.
Sam: I made it at Kinkos.
Dean: Yes you did. Be proud of that.
Jody: Oh for the love of God, what is wrong with you? Do you get off on fat shaming chicks? You are so not fat by the way. And you, you are just a douche!
Next week, in the mid-season finale, the Mark of Cain rears its ugly head.