Article Index

6.13  Unforgiven:  You Killed One Monster, You Made So Many More

Sam’s forgotten past
Spins a present spider trap;
Memories surface.
Episode Summary
A year earlier in Bristol, Rhode Island, Sam coldly fired his gun at four separate targets as Samuel Campbell uncomfortably looked on, and they left the building burning behind them. Sam’s arm was bleeding as they walked away, carrying machetes in hand, but he said it would hold until they got out of town. As they drove away in Samuel’s van, however, a deputy sheriff pulled them over, calling them Federal agents Roark and Wynand, and saying he couldn’t get hold of Sheriff Dobbs or anyone else on the phone. Samuel said they’d spoken to Dobbs earlier and started to offer a placating speculation about why he might not be answering, but the deputy noticed Sam’s bleeding shoulder and insisted on taking them back in his car, saying he’d arrest them if they didn’t come. Sam scoffed at the idea and turned away, but as the deputy reached for his gun and Samuel urged him just to take it easy, Sam spun around and hit the deputy, proceeding brutally to beat him unconscious. Samuel asked wryly if he didn’t think there were calmer ways they could have handled it, but Sam callously asked if they cared, and got back into the van. Less than pleased, Samuel still took the wheel and drove off, leaving the deputy lying in the road.
In the present day, Dean returned from a lunch run to find Sam watching television, trying to catch up on events from the year and a half he had missed. After snarking about whether Mel Gibson was possessed, given the turn in his recent behavior, Dean reported having had a conversation with Bobby, who said there had been no further developments concerning the “Mother of All” and everything was quiet. Sam’s phone rang with a text message consisting of nothing but his name and a set of coordinates, but he didn’t know who sent it. When he called the number back, it just rang without being answered. The coordinates mapped to Bristol, RI, where three women had disappeared within the last week, seemingly vanishing into thin air. Sam guessed the text could have come from another hunter looking for backup, since he didn’t even know how many other hunters he might have met while working with the Campbells, and said he thought they should go. Dean objected, not liking the mysterious setup, but Sam argued they couldn’t ignore a bunch of missing girls. Dean reluctantly conceded, but insisted that if things got squirrely, they would dump out, and Sam agreed.
On the way into town at night, passing the welcome billboard that touted Bristol as the place “Where Memories Are Made,” Sam had a disturbing flash of memory of driving past that same billboard in the van with Samuel. Noticing his sudden tension, Dean looked for a source and asked what was wrong, but Sam dismissed it as nothing. Catching dinner in a pirate-themed restaurant, comparing notes on the missing women, Dean observed the kidnapper had a type, given they were all hot brunettes, but Sam noted they had nothing else in common. While Dean took a bathroom break, a woman approached Sam accompanied by her husband, who looked decidedly unhappy with the woman’s obviously flirtatious attitude. The woman called him Agent Roark and asked if he was in town because the disappearances had started up again, and Sam, not remembering the couple at all, solemnly agreed and asked them to contact him if they learned anything. She asked where his partner, the big bald guy named Wynand, was, and as Sam floundered, Dean returned, saying Wynand was in sex rehab. Without using a name, Sam introduced Dean as his new partner, and Dean indicated they needed to leave. As the woman and her husband walked away to the bar, she touched Sam’s shoulder, and Sam had another memory flash, this time of fast and furious bathroom sex with the woman. Noting the cougar-look the woman gave him as the couple left, and the argument the couple engaged in at the bar, Dean asked what was up, and Sam, disturbed, said he thought he and Samuel must have worked a case in the town. Dean contributed his own corroborating evidence, Sam’s and Samuel’s faces in the background of a photo taken in the restaurant and posted on the wall. Dean hurriedly paid the check and ushered them out the door.
Back in the house they were squatting in, Dean hustled his packing and told Sam to hurry it up, but Sam argued they couldn’t leave. Researching on his laptop, Sam said five guys had disappeared a year ago and they’d never found the bodies, and reasoned that had to be the case he and Samuel had worked. With women going missing now, he guessed either he and Samuel hadn’t finished the case, or they only thought they had. Either way, he concluded the current case was his responsibility for not having gotten it right the first time. Dean argued they should call Bobby and get another hunter to deal with it, pointing out that hunters never took repeat jobs in the same town because they always left messes behind, and not repeating was one of John’s cardinal rules. Sam shot back that finishing what you started was another of their father’s rules, and he obviously hadn’t finished this one. When Dean continued to stare him down, Sam said he understood that Dean was afraid he’d stroll down memory lane and kick down the wall in his head to wind up drooling on the floor from his memories of Hell, but he insisted he couldn’t leave, saying since what was happening in the town was due to him having screwed up before big time, it was his responsibility to stop it. He pointed out Dean would do the same thing in his place, and Dean reluctantly agreed, saying he’d follow up on the brunettes while Sam learned what he could from the police.
While talking to the roommate of one of the missing women, Dean found one of “Agent Roark’s” business cards, and learned that Sam had questioned the women because one of the missing men had lived in their apartment building. With a little persuasion, Dean discovered Sam and the missing woman had been sexually involved. 
As Sam, wearing his FBI suit, arrived at the police station, the cop he’d beaten unconscious on his previous visit immediately pulled a gun on him and arrested him, locking him up on suspicion of murder for all the disappearances. The deputy told him he had to be stupid, coming back, and said the FBI had no record of him as an agent. He demanded to know where the bodies were, including the missing Sheriff Roy Dobbs, and when Sam protested he didn’t remember anything, left him locked in the cell. Hours later, after nightfall, a woman came into the cellblock demanding to know what happened to her husband, the missing sheriff. She said she knew who he was and what he did, and called him Sam. Looking at her, Sam began to have more flashes of memory, seeing her with her husband, the sheriff, talking with Sam and Samuel and learning that they weren’t Feds but hunted monsters. Sam recalled having objected to the woman being there, and hearing Roy say she worked with him at the sheriff’s station and anything they said to him, they would tell her as well. Surfacing from the memory, he stated the obvious, and she retorted that her husband had disappeared and they had disappeared, and she was left wondering what to think, whether they’d killed him or some thing had. She said she just wanted to know what happened, and Sam earnestly agreed he wanted the same. He told her something happened to him and he didn’t remember anything, not even her name. He asked her to believe him, pointing out that if he’d remembered having been there before, he’d never have walked up to the police station. He promised he could find answers, but not from inside the cell. Telling him her name was Brenna, she considered for a moment, and then unlocked the cell, saying that they needed to find rope for him to tie her up to sell the idea that he broke out of jail.
The woman who’d spoken to Sam in the bar, drinking boxed wine in her kitchen despite her husband’s silent disapproval, headed into her basement for a box to replace the emptied one. The light didn’t work, and as she cautiously headed down the steps, a hand snaked between the risers and grabbed her ankle, making her fall down the stairs. She screamed at seeing whatever approached her.
Back in their abandoned house the next morning, Sam was listening to a police scanner while going through his research notes when he heard a noise outside. Pulling his gun, nervous and jumpy, he got behind the door before it opened – and found himself pointing his gun at Dean. Snidely pointing out he’d been right about revisiting the town being a bad idea, Dean asked him how it felt to be a fugitive again, and filled him in on having learned Sam had biblically known one of the missing women. They heard a radio call reporting another missing person, and Dean blocked Sam from moving, saying he would check it out and insisting Sam stay in the house. Sam agreed and Dean left – and the moment he was gone, Sam headed out.
Leaving the house after talking to the missing woman’s husband, Dean called Sam, getting his voicemail and leaving the message that he’d figured out the common denominator:  all the missing women had sex with Sam the last time he’d been in town. Dean warned that the text message and the disappearances were all bait in a trap for Sam, and ordered Sam to call him back. 
Sam, meanwhile, surprised Brenna in her home. She demanded to know where the latest missing woman was, angrily noting that no sooner had she let Sam escape than the woman disappeared. Sam said he needed her help, that he needed the case files her husband had made about the disappearances the previous year, and admitted he knew they weren’t in the police station because he’d broken in there in search of them already. He promised they could find out what happened last year and stop what was happening now. Against her better judgment, she admitted the files were upstairs, and went to get them.
While she was gone, Sam flashed on having spent a casual evening with Brenna and Roy talking about hunting over beers. He remembered Samuel saying the moving-around lifestyle was great when they were young, but it got tougher with a family. He reminisced that when Deanna got pregnant, they didn’t know what they were going to do, but concluded Mary was a blessing. As Samuel went to get more beer, Brenna noted that he missed Mary, but observed they at least had each other. Sam quickly said Samuel hadn’t been around when he was a kid and they had more of a business relationship. When Brenna asked if he had any other family, Sam remembered hesitating, then dismissively saying that family just slows you down. 
Brenna startled him out of the memory when she returned with the box of files, and as he looked at a photo of one of the missing men, he had more memory flashes, including peeling a web or cocoon away from the man’s face. An evidence bag containing white fibers brought the flash of Samuel, over dinner in the Buccaneer restaurant, saying his best guess was an arachne, a monster from Crete no one had seen in two thousand years, and one he didn’t know how to kill. Sam proposed a plan to use bait to draw it to a park central to the other disappearances. Increasingly uncomfortable with the memory flashes, Sam asked Brenna if he could take the box of files for a few hours, and she agreed. He turned on his phone as he walked out the door, getting Dean’s voicemail message even as he saw tatters of white fiber webbing blowing in the breeze at the side of the porch. He set down the box to investigate the webbing, and something with multi-faceted eyes watched him. He was so absorbed that he jumped when a hand touched his shoulder, and he nearly shot Dean as he whipped around. Irritated, Dean said he’d figured Sam would try talking to Brenna, and said they had to get him out of there. As they left, the multiple eyes watched Sam.
Back at their abandoned house, Dean summed up the situation as a monster wanting to kill Sam specifically, and Sam said it was an arachne, admitting he’d begun to remember things. Dean asked what else he remembered, and Sam reassured him it was nothing to do with Hell, which didn’t reassure Dean at all. Sam offered the thought that things were just coming back to him and maybe it was natural, and Dean’s instant response was that they were leaving. When Sam protested, Dean said flatly they weren’t the only hunters on the planet, and Bobby and Rufus could clean it up. Sam protested they had no leads, and frustratedly said he knew what did this, but just couldn’t remember. Angry, Dean yanked the files away from him, saying he didn’t think Sam got the risk involved, and asking if he understood that every time he scratched the memory wall, he was playing Russian roulette. Sam said he understood Dean was worried, but observed it would either happen or it wouldn’t, and he was starting to think he’d done bad things here and didn’t care if it was dangerous – he just needed to set things right. He said he had a soul now, and it wouldn’t let him just walk away. He announced that he was staying, and needed Dean to back him up. Dean reluctantly agreed, and they started to assemble all the information they had in their own spiderweb of links and maps, tacking the pieces up on the wall. 
Looking at the completed pattern, Sam began to experience more memory flashes, and finally had it all. He remembered calling Roy to sucker him into position in the park, since he fit the victim profile as Sam and Samuel didn’t, and countering Samuel’s objections about keeping Roy ignorant by saying they needed a good performance and Roy would be fine. Samuel said it wasn’t the way he was used to doing things, and Sam welcomed him to the future. In the park, they saw the waiting Roy jumped by a fast-moving, vaguely female figure, but by the time they ran up, Roy was gone. Samuel wanted to search, but Sam argued they were already gone, and said it didn’t matter because he’d activated the GPS on Roy’s phone so they could track where he went. Samuel was appalled to think Roy was nothing but spider-bait to Sam, and Sam back-pedaled, assuring this had only been his back-up plan, but Samuel observed he was about as cold as they come. The signal led them to a waterfront building. Inside, they found all the male victims wrapped in cocoons of fiber. When Samuel freed one man’s face, they all awoke, and Roy begged for help, saying he couldn’t feel. Sam asked where the spider was, and the woman attacked him, flinging him into a wall. Samuel shot her multiple times, but the bullets had no effect, and she flung him aside too. Sam came up swinging a machete and beheaded her, and that seemed to work. Samuel advocated calling an ambulance to help the men, but Sam, citing information on brown recluse spider bites, maintained they were poisoned beyond hope, with poison eating them alive, and shot each man in the head to put him out of his misery, first telling Roy he had been a hero and then telling Samuel to fetch the gasoline to burn the building and the bodies. With the memories in his eyes in the present, Sam told Dean he knew what happened.
At the sheriff’s house, Brenna got up to investigate a noise, and discovered Roy, his face disfigured and his eyes sporting double pupils, telling her he loved her. The phone rang – Sam calling supposedly to check in – and she asked him to swing by. Sam told Dean he knew she was in trouble. They drove to the house, but Dean noticed the light on in the shed. Investigating, they found Brenna, who asked Sam if it was true, what he had done to Roy. Roy attacked from behind them, flinging Dean into a hanging net and slamming Sam up against the wall, telling him to answer the question.
A short time later, with both of the Winchesters immobilized by web cocoons, Roy continued his discussion with Sam while Dean surreptitiously sawed at his bonds with a piece of broken glass. Roy revealed the female arachne hadn’t been in the town to feed, but to breed: she had bitten the men to turn them into arachne themselves. Bullets and fire didn’t kill them, and they fled after Sam and Samuel had left them for dead. Roy said what kept him going was thinking about killing Sam, and he couldn’t understand why Sam wasn’t getting all the clues, until Brenna told him about Sam’s amnesia. When Sam asked where the missing women were, Roy said they were scattered to the wind, and they were like him now; all of them, monsters, like the other missing men. He congratulated Sam on making many monsters by killing one, and noted the only question was whether he would kill Sam, or turn him. Breaking free, Dean dove for one of the fallen machetes, but Roy tackled him and quickly got the upper hand, beginning to strangle him. Brenna grabbed one of the brothers’ machetes and cut Sam free, and Sam snatched the machete from her and beheaded Roy.
Sam walked Brenna back to the door of her house, trying to apologize, but she slammed the door on him. Packing up at the abandoned house, Dean asked Sam if he was okay, and Sam admitted Dean had been right; they shouldn’t have come back to Bristol. Dean offered that at least Sam had killed the spider-man, and when Sam asked if he was trying to say what Sam had done was a good thing, Dean told him that soulless Sam wasn’t him. Sam objected, saying it was him. Giving up, Dean asked if he could get Sam anything, and when Sam asked if Dean was his waitress, Dean said he was just trying to make Sam feel better, and told him not to be a bitch. Totally missing the old “jerk” rejoinder, Sam said instead that he was fine. Dean said sourly that he looked fine, and added he was just trying to say that everything would be okay. Sam started to ask what else his soulless self might have done, given what had happened in Bristol, but in the middle of his sentence he collapsed in a seizure. Dean raced to him, telling Sammy to talk to him, but his eyes were fixed and staring, and inside his mind, Sam found himself in the midst of fire, burning, and he screamed. 


# KatieV 2011-02-18 04:26
Thanks for another insightful review Mary. I must say I found the savage beating inflicted by Sam on that hapless cop to be an extreme way of getting the "SoulessSam is a Sadistic Bastard" point across. I think we already knew that.
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 20:37
Thanks, Katie, and sorry for the delay in responding; real world's been nuts. I was surprised Samuel just stood by and looked uncomfortable during that beating; I think part of the point of the action was as much to establish Samuel's discomfort as Sam's badassery. Still - nasty.
# Yvonne 2011-02-18 09:16
Ya, everything you said.

Tryin to think of a more intelligent comment but nope, think you stated my opinion quite nicely. How'd you get in my head?
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 20:38
I'm a telepath ... tee-hee! Thanks, Yvonne!
# Nitewoman7 2011-02-18 12:19
Thanks for another great review. During my first viewing loved it. Also though these writers who weren't on my fav list have done a greatly improved job on this season. The black and white (past) and color (present day) really worked and added to the suspense. Overall story worked. MOTW was good and good in progressing the mother of all arc. Clever camera work & directing showing the way Roy now saw the world - through a prism, like an insect! Jared again stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. He has become one fine actor. Pleased and surprised how quickly there was a crack in the wall. Last image of Sam in Hell was ..... something! Please writers pick up from there. Second viewing still loved it was like you saw the flaws.
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 20:50
Thanks, Nitewoman! I really enjoyed the multifaceted spider-eye views; nifty effect, that. And you're right: Jared has been doing a wonderful job with Sam this season. And very glad we picked up exacty where we left off!!
# Ginger 2011-02-18 12:34
Another insightful and excellent review and I'm so glad you joined this site. Regrettably, while I wished I shared your enjoyment of the episode, I just did not, and here is why.

I have no doubt that your analysis of both Sam, Dean, and the mythical brothers' bond is exactly what the writers intended to present; yet, I feel the message was too stuble to come across clearly.

For instance, Sam. I see exactly where you get that Sam had either control over what he remembered or that he could not help remembering because that is simply who he is. I didn't see anything in the episode that indicated he was trying to protect Dean from guilt in any tangible way. Based on what was shown in the episode, it is just as valid that many fans would see Sam up to his old tricks or having learned nothing from S3, S4, and S5.

As far as Dean, what you have described totally validates Sera's idea of the Dean character as a 'caregiver.' Personally, my idea of the character is so much more than that, none of which has been seen this year except in LaV.

Here again, I think you are right on in what the episode was trying to convey for Dean; but either the dialogue was too subtle to convey the message or the acting was not up to standard enough to relay the message. I do not believe for a minute the acting was the reason that someone like you has to 'fill in the blanks' for those of us who didn't see in Dean what you describe the episode showed.

Maybe the reason I am not seeing what you describe for Dean is because I felt Sam's, "I went to Ruby because you wouldn't let me grow up," to be plopped into Fallen Idols on the same level that Lisa was plopped into 99 Problems...that it was so random, it was shocking...a WTF moment that took me totally out of the episode.

But more than that, if what went on with Dean in this episode is as you protend (that he stayed consistent with the lesson he learned in S5 about letting Sam grow up and being supportive of that) then that simply translates into a bottom line of Dean has no other reason to exist other than to protect/save Sam, which has been a major complaint from some fans about this season and puts Dean into nothing more than a support role.

I also couldn't wrap my head around the Sampa we have seen and this Sampa, so chocked it up to once again a character being used to serve as a plot device for Sam's soulless story. I've found this to be a fairly consistent occurrence throughout this season with the other characters and it is annoying and amateurish that characters cannot stand in their own stead.

Production-wise, I so agree that the flashbacks were very well done; the director did a great job, as did the lighting people. There wasn't even a bunch of brunettes that all looked alike, so I was able to keep the support characters straight. I don't remember anything about the music this episode, except no classic rock....again.

Anyway, even though I disagree with the enjoyment of the episode, your reviews are just terrific and I love reading them, and I'm really glad you are in the WBF.
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 21:05
Thanks for the welcome and kind words, Ginger!

I've never seen Dean's role as being limited to caregiver, although that is definitely a key part of his personality and mindset and always has been. I also never felt he needed to be awarded some special mythical, mystical power or role, however, because I think he's always had one: to be the quintessentiall y human hero always present in this story, flaws and all, persevering despite lacking faith, hope, and belief in anything beyond his heart and his family. To me, that is one hell of a special role. And it's because of that I never believed Dean would give in to Michael, or prove to have some special power beyond the simple strength of his heart and spirit; I think in this story, Dean is our avatar, and glorifies being human despite faults and pain. Anyway, my thoughts there. :)

I do agree with your view of Samuel in this story; he seemed way too passive to be real. I'll be curious if we ever get to see a justification for his behavior that we'd be able to accept.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep on enjoying ... and part of that is enjoying dialogues like this! Thank you!
# Bevie 2011-02-18 13:44
Love your descants Mary, and so glad to be able to read them here at my favourite site.

Always find myself agreeing with you in regards especially to the ongoing brotherly relationship as it progresses through the years.

I am slightly disappointed that Sam is still keeping secrets and lying, even if it is to protect his brother from worrying about him. Dean will worry about Sammy when he is 100 and Sam is 96!
Sam should know by now that he is not going to lose Dean's love no matter what he does knowing or unknowing.

Thanks for another awesome review and just want to say how happy I am that you are sharing your thinky thoughts here as well as your own site.
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 21:15
Thanks, Bevie!

Funny thing about insecurities concerning the people who matter the most to us: we never seem to lose them, even when we rationally know better. I'm glad that Sam seems to be getting over his secret-keeping, after this initial lapse.:)
# Vicky 2011-02-18 16:38
Another wonderful review, and you described all my thoughts again!

"The most disturbing and frustrating thing about the whole experience… was the way Sam immediately hid his flashbacks from Dean and then deliberately lied about agreeing to obey Dean’s orders and stay in the room and out of sight after his jailbreak. That was a depressing throwback to Sam’s pattern of deceit throughout season four, when he was constantly lying about using his abilities, hiding his demon blood addiction, and working with Ruby, and thus widening the rift between himself and Dean by making it impossible for Dean to trust him. It argued that Sam hadn’t learned anything about the importance of being honest with Dean from what happened in season four, despite both his later acknowledgment that he’d been wrong and his desperation throughout season five to prove himself trustworthy again."

I’m sorry, but this, and the way Sam treated Dean, like family was still slowing him down, took away my enjoyment of the episode.

I’m afraid it’s not Sam to blame, but my least favourite writers Dabb and Loflin, who probably didn’t dig as deep as some fans here do. Because that aspect of the story just didn’t look natural to me.

Despite great performances and fantastic Barrett and Serge Ladouceur’s work, I had to force myself to rewatch the episode.
# Brynhild 2011-02-19 05:40
But it was RoboSam who stated that "family slows you down", not Sam. And the way RoboSam was designed and showed throughout the first half of the season, it was a pretty consistent statement for me. It would be very odd if he stated otherwise.

And Sam being sneaky... well in a way it reminded me of the s4 Sam, but... in another way it didn't. Here Sam wasn't hiding out something from Dean, somethign that could make Dean think less of him. Sam was just trying to do something. He couldn't just stay there with his thumbs up in his ass, that's just not the way Sam is.

One could retort: "Why Dean tried AGAIN to keep Sam behind, instead of taking him with him or giving him something to do for the case, knowing all too well how 'well' this system worked in the past, knowing Sam's personality and needs?"

Sam tried to do what he felt called to do, and Dean wasn't going to listen, so talking about it would be impossible for Sam (Dean left, and it's not very useful talking to the thin air), so what was he supposed to do? Staying there like a good little boy? He's NOT a little boy anymore (something Dean himself agreed on in the past), and while he can understand Dean's worries, that can't prevent him to do what he felt is not only his need, but his DUTY.

When you are a grown up person, you can listen to your parents advice, but then you decide for yourself, and do what you have to do, no matter if they tell you to stay at home (and if you are an adult, and they see you like an adult, they shouldn't even think to tell you something like that).
# Vicky 2011-02-20 13:02
I know it was roboSam and I understand you, Brynhild, and I also agree with everything Bardicvoice stated justifying Sam’s actions and about Sam in general, I think the same.

But it doesn’t change my feelings regarding that aspect, sorry ;) I’m so happy to see Sam as a caring brother in episode 14!
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 21:34
Hi, Brynhild!

I think you're pretty bang-on with your interpretation of Sam's decision being simply the pragmatic one of needing to do something, so just doing it no matter what he'd told Dean. I'm thinking in future he either won't bother with the lie ("All right, Dean. Yes. I'll stay."), or Dean, looking at him, will see the lie and do what he did here: figure out where Sam would go and what he would do, and back him up despite himself.

Got to love brothers who know each other well ... *grin*
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 21:30
Thanks, Vicky!

I wasn't as disturbed as you were, I think because I could understand and appreciate his reasons for lying being different than they used to be, and because he came clean as quickly as he did. I also didn't have the same reaction as you did, thinking Sam was treating Dean as if family was slowing him down; that was something I definitely didn't get. I got Sam's impatience to be doing something, but not the sense he felt Dean was in the way; only that playing it safe and staying in hiding wasn't a palatable course.

But we're all going to be different in what we take away, and that's fine. I just hope you find more enjoyment in other episodes than youfound here. :)
# RGNYC 2011-02-19 10:08
That was such a great analysis, thank you! I appreciate your personal anecdotes to back up your thoughts on Dean's fear of what might happen. I was in Greenwhich Village during 9/11 and was more like Sam rather than Dean in the days that followed.

I too was concerned during the episode when Sam hid his flashbacks and didn't stay in the house. I don't want the new partnership the brothers have to slip back into old patterns. I am hoping to see balanced trust this season!
# Bardicvoice 2011-02-24 21:36
Thanks, RG!

Based on Mannequin, I think we're getting our wish - the trust is definitely balancing out, from what I can see. Wheee!