(This was originally posted on Blogcritics.org. The first page of the article can be found here. It has all the comments about the episode for those that are interested! I’m reposting here for historical purposes.)
Wow…whoa…erm…geez…I guess that’s one approach to family therapy.
From the word go, in the previews nonetheless, the message is this is gonna be an angry one. Another clue, the title, “Sex and Violence.” There’s definitely that.
I didn’t get to see this one live, much to my dismay. While traveling I kept looking at the clock once it approached 9pm, frowning, wondering if I could convince some bar owner in the sticks to put it on for me. The next day I downloaded the episode from iTunes and luckily I was busy at the New York Comic Con that day, for it took five hours over the slow but free wireless connection. That evening the hubby and I huddled by the laptop and watched with anticipation.
Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we watched it again.
This week’s theme is not uncommon in the history of man. Underneath sex and violence lays mistrust, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. Put it in the Supernatural universe though and the results are downright explosive. Cathryn Humphries is no stranger to depicting the Winchester brotherly strife in her scripts and again she went deep and raw. Unlike her brilliant “Metamorphosis,” she didn’t need obvious parallels, finding the perfect antagonist to screw with needy men and bitter brothers.
There isn’t much to the plot, but a rich plot wasn’t needed for this. Four men kill the person closest to them after being wooed by strippers all with Disney princess names. It doesn’t take Bobby long to figure out this week’s bizarre creature. A siren. According to Sam, “Sirens can read minds. They see what you want the most and cloak themselves.” In other words, they know how to fuck with brothers.
The show certainly likes to fuck with us. The mistrust starts immediately after the title roll, when Dean pretends to sleep while Sam talks to Ruby in the bathroom on his cell phone. Dean still doesn’t trust Sam, so suspicious phone calls instantly get him going. He doesn’t tip off Sam that he knows, and they’re off to Iowa on a case. Later, when Sam carelessly leaves his cell phone behind, Dean is able to confirm Sam was talking with Ruby. You know, the worst person Sam could be sneaking around with.
After some gratuitous scenes involving strippers and rock and roll, which thrills Dean to no end, Sam makes nice with a potential siren of his own, a girl doctor with all the facts. Through Sam’s little encounter with the promiscuous Cara, we find out not all women that are able to meet a man’s deepest desire are supernatural or evil. She reads him well, tapping into his desire to let loose and have passionate sex with a woman who’s fearless, sexy and brunette. A lot like Madison, isn’t she? In the end Sam has no problem leaving without saying goodbye, and judging by the bars she hangs out in, I’m sure Cara isn’t devastated. Yep, the ideal woman.
It’s Dean who meets the evil siren, and his encounter is a stunning twist. Instead of Dean needing the perfect woman like all the other men, his desire turns out to needing the perfect brother. One who shares his taste in cars, his love for Led Zeppelin, and meets his need for loyalty and respect without argument. I wasn’t sure whether to be proud of Dean for not being shallow enough to fall for a stripper or to find him pathetic for his failing faith in Sam.
The scary part is Dean’s fury against Sam starts before he’s infected by the siren. Sure, Sam has done little to earn Dean’s loyalty, but Dean is outright cruel when he has his doubts over whether Sam slept with a siren. “First its Madison, then Ruby, and now Cara, what is with you and banging monsters?” That’s low, even for Dean. No wonder Sam in anger threw his phone across the room. That frustration reflects everything he had to defend to Dean in “Metamorphosis.” Dean still doesn’t believe he knows the difference between right and wrong.
Sam’s outburst isn’t surprising either, since his strong patience with Dean has been slowly cracking over the last few episodes. There’s his quick reaction to the know-it-all comment in “Family Remains,” his decision to meet Ruby and not involve Dean at the end of “Criss Angel Is A Douchebag,” and the final scene in “After School Special,” when he realizes that he hasn’t taken control of his life. All that hit a peak with that furious stare into the mirror. Dean is holding him back.
The brotherly showdown itself, even though nothing new is revealed for the audience, couldn’t have been more jaw dropping. For them to say such things to each other so bluntly, even though they’ve been avoiding these issues, it’s a pretty harsh way to get things out into the open. I found the siren’s curiosity in these two to be much like the one The Trickster showed. They are learning a lesson in a cruel way, and it will define them.
Deconstructing the two final scenes sets up a world of hurt. Sure Dean is under the spell, considering he tries to kill Sam, but what he says to Sam he could have easily done while normal. Heck, he did just that in “Metamorphosis.” When Dean gets bothered enough, he won’t hold back. The true shocker of this scenario comes from Sam. He not only spells it out for Dean under no uncertain terms, but does so in the most heartless way. That is definitely not Sam, and he would never be that hurtful to Dean, no matter how angry.
Just look at the words thrown at each other. They speak for themselves:
Dean: Well I don’t know when it happened, maybe when I was in Hell, maybe when I was staring right at you. The Sam I knew, he’s gone.
Sam: That so?
Dean: It’s not the demon blood, or the psychic crap. It’s the little stuff, the lies, the secrets.
Sam: Yeah, what secrets?
Dean: The phone calls to Ruby for one.
Sam: So I need your say so to make a phone call?
Dean: That’s the point. You’re hiding things from me. What else aren’t you telling me?
Sam: None of your business.
Dean: See what I mean? We used to be in this together. We used to have each other’s backs.
Sam: Okay, fine. You want to know why I didn’t tell you about Ruby? And how we’re hunting down Lilith? Because you’re too weak to go after her Dean. You’re holding me back. I’m a better hunter than you are, stronger, smarter. I can take out demons you’re too scared to go near.
Dean: That’s crap.
Sam: You’re too busy sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. Whining about all the souls you tortured in Hell. Boo hoo.
Ouch! Both got in their sentences of deep hurt in this episode, but considering Dean’s came when he wasn’t infected, that one bothers me the most. Plus, Sam said what some of us been thinking since the end of “Family Remains.” The gripping physical fight that ensues afterward is the culmination of the frustration and rage toward each other that has been building all season. It seemed real and believable even though they were both fueled on siren song. That reality is breached though when Dean really would have killed Sam with that axe if Bobby didn’t arrive with his dagger solution. That unsettles me, spell or not.
In the final scene, both brothers are obviously uncomfortable. Sam is mortified, while Dean is betrayed. Whatever happened between them, siren or not, that pushed Dean over the edge in regards to his trust. By refusing to talk about it, telling Sam “Yeah, we’re good,” that’s his way of saying, “I’m done talking.” The Sam he knew is not only gone, he’s dead to him. That unsettles me too.
Welcome to the setup for the rest of the season. The damage is now done, and from this point forward any shred of loyalty to each other left is compromised. I’m not going to have any nails left by the end of the season.
The red walls are back. The ones that served as a backdrop in powerful scenes in “Lazarus Rising,” “Are You There God, Its Me Dean Winchester,” and “Yellow Fever.” This time, they stand out during Sam’s long slow walk down the hall after coming back from banging Cara. Is this foreshadowing for the path Sam is headed? Either these walls are supposed to mean something, or someone’s messing with us. I’ve learned to believe that in TV, there are no happy accidents.
Charles Beeson did another respectable job, and it’s clear now he’s in the rotation, but the more episodes I see, the more I miss Kim Manners. That’s going to take a while.
That’s one oversized meat pounder! The better to bash her head in I guess. I’m making sure mine are small and wooden from now on.
The FBI cover this week is brilliance. They have used it so much they’re really taking it to a new level. It’s a great extension of a gimmick that’s getting a bit old. Printed up business cards, an AD to report to, and Bobby providing backup on the other line. Bobby has five phones, one for each cover! Just when I thought I couldn’t love him any more. Especially when he called them “idgits” after the call.
Great quote of the week comes from Sam this time! “If you’re a siren in 09 looking to ruin a bunch of morons, where would you setup shop?”
Dean, if you ever need someone to talk Zeppelin with, I’m available. I’ll impress you with my obscure knowledge. “This is the mystery of the quotient, upon us all a little rain must fall.”
Hear this TPTB, I will never tire of shirtless Sammy. Thanks again for that, and who isn’t thrilled that Sera Gamble has passed on the Sam sex scene baton to someone else.
My grade, an A. Just like the last two weeks, these standalones may not involve angels, but man are they pushing the character development forward. This type of development is sorely needed, and seems to be providing the necessary setup to take us through the rest of the season. I can’t wait!
In the coming weeks of hiatus, I’m going to do at least one top ten list and get back to some older episode reviews. I still have yet to do “Home” and other season one favorites. Thursday’s repeat is the fantastic “Yellow Fever.” This hiatus will be over in no time.