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I loved this episode Sera Gamble you are brilliant

Finally, the long-awaited glimpse inside Sam Winchester's head; it's a mess in there. We've seen glimpses into Dean's head several times over the seasons: What is and What Should Never Be, Dream a Little Dream of Me and a neat treat last week in The Rapture. That boy's head is a lot clearer which is shocking considering what he eats I guess all that demon blood coursing through Sam's veins is affecting his mind "˜cause he goes on quite a journey, a journey filled with pity, denial, self-justification and finally confrontation! no surprise, Sera Gamble wrote this.

There are so many layers to this episode and, if I tried to cover them all, I'd never get this done. I've watched it three times and even after the third time I found other angles I could develop but have decided to stick with what I've presented here. I'll likely be searching some other sites to get insights from other writers and I invite you to comment on those aspects that you found especially compelling. Here we go!

I'm not drinking the demon blood for kicks:

No you aren't, Sam, but your hallucinations give great insight into how you view yourself and how you justify your actions.

Stage one: Sam's a victim, he's helpless and he's out of control. I'm not surprised that, after Dean locks the door and tells Sam he's been benched, that Sam goes on a pity party. Imagining himself restrained and tortured by Alastair is his way of reminding himself that as a baby he was helpless while a demon dripped blood in his mouth and altered his future. The restraints are symbolic of how helpless a six-month-old baby is. His polite pleading with Alastair to stop shows the innocence of an infant who can't formulate the thoughts of: "Don't hurt me."

Awakening Sam quickly moves past his feelings of helplessness, feelings he hates, and enters stage two where he denies all his former idealistic dreams. The very idea of telling a 14-year-old kid to grow up is so anti-Sam but unsurprising. Sam needs to do battle with the conflicting thoughts and emotions inside of himself, how he used to see things in a positive light, how he believed there was a life after hunting, how he had fallen in love and planned a happy, normal future. 

As quickly as young Sam brings those things up and challenges Sam for abandoning them older Sam crushes those thoughts by saying there was never going to be anything normal and that things just didn't "pan out” “sorry kid, grow up." If he embraces those aspects of his personality, then he has to embrace that what young Sam is telling him is true, that he put himself in this situation and that he has failed himself; he has to concede that what he's been doing is wrong and he can't do that yet, so he ends that hallucination by supporting his position, he's fated to turn evil so might as well get on with it or embrace it as a gift. 

Stage three brings the balm to his weary mind. Note that he sees the pitcher of water and longs for it but never, not even when it's all over, takes a drink; why should he, 'mom' has refreshed his soul. Having gotten through his sense of being a victim and suppressed any thoughts that might lead to him questioning his choices he creates the illusion of support. His churlish passive/aggressive behavior shows just how ready for the fight he is.

Needing to shore up his badly deteriorating defenses he conjures mom on the night of her death and then has her tell him all that he has deluded himself into believing, that he's making the hard choices to get the job done, that he is cursed but strong and smart enough to turn it into a gift and use it against the demons, that he's strong and Dean is weak, that Dean is terrified and should be left behind and that Sam has to make her death meaningful but not for revenge, no, better, for justice. Nice touch.

Lies catch up to us though and Sam's catch up to him when this whirlwind tour of his fevered mind is interrupted with a dose of demon blood reality. Nothing like seeing your face lined with black veins and then writhing on the floor only to be hurled against the walls to shake you out of your delusions. The fact that stage four is a mixture of reality (the restraints) and fantasy (Dean's presence) shows that Sam's defenses are crumbling despite his best efforts. Finally Sam confronts himself!and he does it in the guise of Dean. 

The fact that Sam chooses to see Dean here is telling on multiple levels, first of all, it's an admission that Dean really does know him and this is important to Sam. Sam is also desperate to not lose his brother. It's also an admission, albeit not a freely given admission but the subconscious is quirky that way telling us things we need to know not necessarily what we want to know, that what he's doing is wrong. Sam tries every weapon in his arsenal in quick succession and misses the mark with each one: Kill Lilith, get revenge, stop the apocalypse, left with nothing but the naked truth Sam finally admits that it is his need for control that has driven him to choose this path. Pride has controlled him.  For all that Sam thought he was in control he now has to face the fact that pride has been controlling him. Realizing he's lied to himself he shifts gears and shows his greatest fear, rejection by Dean and losing Dean and he paints the portrait of what is to come later on.

This hallucination is the breakthrough, note after this round Sam fell asleep. His peace is short-lived though. Awakened and unexpectedly freed, even after having made a breakthrough, Sam is not out of the woods and like any junkie needing a fix, he goes in search of his dealer. The fact that he begs Bobby to kill him, however, shows that Sam is no longer lying to himself, at least not when he's alone.  He's convinced he's already the monster of his last hallucination and begs for release. Knowing that won't happen he makes his escape. Adrift, alone he has nowhere to go but to the one person that, in his fragile and strung-out state of mind, can help!enter Ruby.

I'll interject some words of a song I adore. I think much of what we've seen over two seasons from Ruby with respect to Sam, especially this season, are in these words:

SLOW FADE, Casting Crowns

Be careful little eyes what you see

It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings


Be careful little ears what you hear

When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near.


Be careful little lips what you say

For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray


The journey from your mind to your hands is shorter than you're thinking

Be careful if you think you stand, you just might be sinking.

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away

It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray

Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid

When you give yourself away

People never crumble in a day

It's a slow fade; it's a slow fade.


Having just recently written in another article that Kripke is telling a complex story in masterful style and much of what is to be understood of this journey will not and cannot be fully understood until it is complete I'll take a break from my dislike of Ruby [who by the way I believe we are meant to dislike as she is evil and thus I'm simply going with the flow J] and take a little trip down memory lane of this devious little thing that is Ruby.

Magnificent Seven:  Appears mysteriously and introduces herself to Sam.

The Kids Are All Right: Time to dangle a carrot or two, she tells Sam there's more to Azazel than he thought AND she says she can save Dean; Sam is more than willing to let her live.

Sin City:  Further cementing her guise as helpful demon she repairs the Colt. 

Malleus Maleficarum:  A master stroke of manipulation. Ruby saves Dean's life and by no accident is revealed as having once been human. Playing to his love for his brother and his growing fear of hell she ensnares Dean in her web and unbalances him a bit.

Jus in Bello: A test of Sam's moral boundaries shows they're slipping and proves that Dean remains an obstacle!not to worry, his deal is coming due.

No Rest For the Wicked: Sam's desperate and Ruby is ready with the help!not really but it is time to start reeling Sam in. If only Dean hadn't been in the way, not to worry though, Dean's not long for this world courtesy of Lilith; By the way, how did Ruby get out of that devil's trap? I think Lilith released her. Ruby does slip up a bit here and that's why I think someone else released her from the trap. She's been careful all along not to show her true colors but, once Dean trapped her and made it clear he was not going to release her, she slipped her mask: "I wish I could smell the flesh sizzle off your bones" Tsk, tsk, Ruby!that's not very ladylike.

Lazarus Rising: [and pre-LR] Ruby came in all sympathetic and helpful, she even gave in when Sam rediscovered a portion of his moral boundaries!"Whose body are you riding?" Knowing this was make or break she shed one body and found another. Disarming him quickly by playing to his loss and emotions she went for the gold, revenge and hooked him. In Lazarus Rising she plays it very cool when Dean's unexpected arrival could have thrown her plans awry; she backs off and this allows her an opportunity to gauge Sam, he's not willing to stop. She's got him.

In the Beginning/Metamorphosis: Finding Sam a willing if only slightly hesitant partner she quietly resumes her manipulation of him under the guise of training and saving people; how nice, she takes the freshly demon exorcised guy to the emergency room.

I Know What You Did Last Summer/Heaven and Hell: Time to reinsert herself into the boys' lives. Sam has found a bit of his moral boundaries, unfortunately for Ruby, however, the upside is that Dean learns how Ruby "˜saved' Sam's life while Dean was in hell.  This and a little torture at Alastair's hands earns her a pass, again.

Criss Angel: Ruby gets her protege back and is in business again, she's sure not to let up now and likely increases his "˜toning up' schedule. 

Death Takes A Holiday/On The Head of a Pin: No doubt Ruby's efforts are paying off as Sam is now much stronger and no longer resistant, victory is at hand.

Which brings us to the present, having purposefully left Sam long enough to be weakened, feel his lack of control [something she knows he craves] she shows up at 'just the right time' and plays Sam to perfection. She comes not only with what he needs, but what he wants which is sympathy and information. She is contrite, she is informative, she's sorrowful at the break between the brothers and she's more than willing to feed his habit. She's finally got Sam right where she wants him to be. Be careful what you wish for, Ruby, should the dog decide to bite the hand that feeds him!

You're a dick these days

Kripke upends things again. We expect manipulation from demons but angels? Granted we know the angels are stringing Dean along giving him information on a need to know basis but a deal? Dean, Dean, Dean, you got played just as smoothly as Ruby played Sam in No Rest for the Wicked.

Castiel is extremely conflicted at what he did in getting Dean to swear his obedience. I also wonder at his cryptic choice of words. Kripke is known for his enigmatic wording , by the way, it's fun to play with the thesaurus on your computer, cryptic and enigmatic are synonyms, hee, but I'm wondering at that final little bit tossed in there by Cas: as swiftly and obediently as your own father's? Hmm, I'm remembering Dean's less than swift and obedient responses to dad in Dean Man's Blood and Devil's Trap, perhaps this is a little wiggle room instilled by Cas? Time will tell.

The angels are proving what Kripke said from the beginning, other than Bobby there hasn't been anyone introduced that truly has Sam and Dean's best interests at heart [anyone that lives that is or doesn't disappear like Missouri, Jo, Ellen]. The angels have wanted Dean's obedience from the outset and he's been slow to give it but, as Uriel so astutely showed in Heaven and Hell, apply the right pressure and Dean caves. Castiel never tells Dean that he can, through his obedience, save Sam from having to do whatever Sam is about to do; he simply infers it and let's Dean's love and devotion carry the day.

As for why he let Sam out, notice that happened after each brother reached a watershed moment. Sam realized he'd lost his internal battle, as I noted above in the progression of his hallucinations, and Dean found his line. Dean was not going to allow Sam out of the panic room to be turned into a monster and right after that Castiel opened the door. At the very least, by opening the door and affecting Sam's escape Castiel has forced Dean into action since he'll go after Sam. This will ensure Dean's swift obedience as nothing else would have.

I know him "“ He doesn't know me as well as he thinks:

They're both right. Dean knows Sam very well as proven by the ease with which he finds him. However, Dean doesn't know Sam as well as he thinks as shown by his choice of words [monster] and his issuance of an ultimatum. Really, Dean, you saw how well that fared eight years ago when John and Sam had this argument, what did you think was going to happen.

I find it interesting that in this scene we get throwbacks to Season 1 in two critical areas: first, Sam tries to kill Dean. He tried to do it in Asylum when he was under the influence of Dr. Ellicott, and he tries to do it here under the influence of demon blood. The difference between the two is that in Asylum Dean had unloaded his gun thus saving himself; here Sam stops himself thus saving Dean. The second throwback is in the ultimatum. We learned in Dead Man's Blood that John had issued the very same ultimatum to Sam that Dean did here, both times ended the same.

Did Dean do the right thing locking Sam up and trying to "˜dry him out'? Absolutely, resoundingly yes. Going dark, camping near the gates of evil, using demon powers for good, disguise it how you want, is never right. You cannot scoop hot coals into your lap without getting burned, sorry, Sam, but you can't. Sam's had plenty of chances to turn back, his own conscience has been eating at him and he's had examples of Jack in Metamorphosis and the tragedy of Charlie and Jay from Criss Angel as examples, he's had warnings by a ghost (After School Special), Pamela (Death Takes a Holiday), Chuck (Monster at the End of!), a ghoul (Jump the Shark) and Anna (The Rapture) and now he knows it himself. His hallucination with Dean was really his own fears coming through!when Dean in person called him a monster, Sam had nowhere else to go and he snapped. 

Why did Sam try to strangle Dean, was it to scare him off? Was he just out of control due to the monster comment and then 'sobered up' at the last moment?  Just like John is a pressure point for Dean so is the idea of being a freak, a monster, evil is a pressure point for Sam.

So where do we go from here? Are we going to "Carry on wayward son?" "Will there be peace when we are done?" or "Will we cry some more?" I have no idea.

I do know this much, we must all be careful what we wish for. I'm in with the rest of you in wishing eagerly for this Thursday to come (or Friday for those of you in the Space Channel world, or in whatever way people get to see these episodes out there internationally) but here's the rub, once this Thursday comes and goes, we've got about 18 to 20 weeks before any new episodes air. Hold on, I think it's going to be a long, nail biting summer with a whole lot of "Damn You, Kripke"


# Tigershire 2009-05-10 01:33
Nice review Elle2. I'm still mulling everything over in my head.

So I'm starting at the end here, for some reason. Could it be that at that moment, Sam saw John and not Dean and thus the reason he strangled him? There are all kinds of reasons Sam's anger should be aimed at his Dad instead of Dean. And now in his "jacked up" state with Dean trying to control him in a manner that reminds him of his Dad....

Ah, just more to think on.

Now for Ruby (and hopefully folks that want to remain spoiler free are not reading this post - and if you are, you may wish to stop - sure what I'm going to say is speculation, but it may plant ideas you don't want to think about) I still have this feeling that she's actually Lillith. We have NEVER seen Ruby and Lillith together in an episode. To the best of our knowledge, Ruby is of the pay grade that shouldn't allow her to be in possesion of something as powerful as the demon killing ginsu, the knowledge to fix the Colt, the rocket jet pack of transport or the ability to break out of devil's traps - but Lillith would.

The events of NRFTW are staged so nicely, it supports this theory, which could, of course, be totally wrong but when you watch....the hex bags that are supposed to hid them from Lillith, don't. Ruby shows up outside and I bet you anything that the little girl inside that Lillith is supposed to be inhabiting is sound asleep and "vacant". Ruby leaves Sam and goes into a different room, Sam comes in and thanks to Dean and his new "demon" site ensures Sam doesn't gank an innocent little kid.

We never see Lillith remove Ruby - all encounters with Lillith, Ruby is conveniently absent.

Even when Sam thinks he's going to face Lillith in IKWYDLS, he only get's her lackies. ALL his intel was coming from Ruby and she then conveniently shows up to save him.

Regardless of any theories out there, including mine, Ruby is up to no good and Sam's interested are NOT on her laundry list. To quote her a la Katie Cassidy "Um, demon. Manipulative is kind of in the job description."
# Bethany 2009-05-10 04:25
Elle2 - great review as always and those lyrics, they just fit didn't they....

I can tell you that I was positively screaming at the scream just before Dean said "monster". I don't think Dean realised that that was the worst thing he could have said and it was the manifestation of Sam's fears, as we saw in his hallucinations. It's the one thing Sam doesn't want to hear and to hear it from Dean just makes it a million times worse.
I was curious about the choice by Sara Gamble to have Dean say exactly what John had said to Sam years earlier. That choice and you know it was made on purpose and I wonder to what end.

Tigershire - good point! that is true you have never seen them in the same place at the same time...does get you thinking. I was wondering about Malleus Maleficarum and what that demon says to Ruby... in connection to your theory do you think there was once a demon called Ruby? And that the demon was mistaken in who she thought was there? Also now i've thought about it Ruby never showed up until Dean had made that deal, until he was about to go to hell and leave Sam alone. Curious no?

But although I'm looking forward the thursday I know I have to prepare myself for the envitable cliff hanger and months of thinking OH MY GOD...what the hell? Kripke!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!
# Suze 2009-05-10 04:45
Good idea, Tigershire, I did wonder about that myself but when Dean is about to run out of time he can see demons faces, can't he? And when Lilith comes in wearing Ruby's body he recognises that it's not the actually Ruby in there, so presumably the demons look different to one another when you can see their true faces.

Having said that it's a nifty theory and fits in with Mr. K's twisted modus operandi so we'll just have to bite our nails til next week ... :shock:
# Suze 2009-05-10 13:07
Sorry, had to rush off to work, so here's part 2 ...

Ruby is definitely lining Sam up for a fall on behalf of someone but whether it's Lilith, Lucifer or a third party is anyone's guess at this stage ... Could she be working with the rogue angels? They want the big bad unleashed as much as anyone and they wouldn't be able to yank Dean's chain nearly so hard if Sam wasn't balanced on the edge ... perhaps they put him there?

Now I've given myself a headache ... Too much doublethink! :roll::
# Tigershire 2009-05-10 14:50
Given enough time and energy, I can rationalize anything. GRIN

So, we could look at it like, Lillith is second only to Lucifer. If that is true, then I would speculate that it's possible that she could change her appearance and make Dean see what she wants him too. Eyes, visage, whatever. If it was true and she was holding Dean's contract, she knew EXACTLY when it ran out, she knew Dean would be able to see her real form.

Or Ruby could have been one of her lackies and was voluntarily swapping places.

Or I'm totally wrong. GRIN

All that is apparent is that nothing good seems to be in store for either Sam or Dean.

As for Malleus Maleficarum, I thought about that Bethany. It is the one instance I can think of that punches a whole in my theory since I don't know if Lillith has any of the abilities I appear to be gifting her with. So, we will just have to wait and see.

Anyone else got the urge to pace back and forth?
# elle2 2009-05-10 15:01
Hi, Tigershire, Bethany and Suze,

Great thoughts by all. There is so much to ponder here and I told Alice that I could have added sooooo much more but then I'd never post so I focused but still felt like I didn't cover ground that I wanted to cover.

Tigershire, great point we do never see Lilith and Ruby together, although Suze brings up a good point that Dean had a brief period there where he could 'see' the faces underneath the 'meatsuit' but perhaps Lilith has enough mojo to mask that...who knows. Kripke sure does know how to twists and turn and confuse us...for which I am very grateful 'cause he's so much better at it than my thoughts.

Bethany, I am still pondering the whole strangle of Dean. I get that Sam was so overwhelmed having had his inner thoughts explored in so painful of a way and finally admitting his greatest fear and then having the one person he cannot bear to lose confirm it for him...devastati ng. Dean was just as devastated in having said it b/c for him the fear is becoming realized that he's going to have to do what John told him he'd have to do...kill Sam. Dean was just horrified. the ghostfacers said back in Hell House...gotta find my center.

It's really tough to tell who's the good guy and who isn't (I'm figuring it's still Dean and Sam as the good guys they're just being yanked around a bit [a lot] by opposing forces. Perhaps there was something tot he whole Godzilla and Mothma or whatever idea back in Heaven and Hell...just get out of the way and let them duke it out.

Let's all hold hands now *virtually* and breathe, in and out, in and out, slow it all down...argh!!!

Damn you Kripke -- just warming up for this coming Thursday.
# Tigershire 2009-05-10 18:03
Perhaps we would all buy stock in Kleenex before Thursday?!?
# Alice 2009-05-10 23:27
Aweseome elle2! Of course I got to read this before anyone else, but you really did bring up some excellent things. I for one never saw that in the hallucination with Alastair. Sam's helpless just like when he was a baby. You know, if I get the chance someday, I'm going to ask Sera Gamble if that scene meant to symbolize such things, or if she was just having a great time screwing with us.

I'm with Suze, while the Lilith/Ruby is certainly intriguing Tigershire, there's just too many little things out there, like Dean seeing demon faces, that refutes that theory. Of course, she could be Lilith's sister or something. They're in cahoots somehow!

I think we're going to have to do more than buy stock in Kleenex. The entire fandom needs to do a hostile takeover of the company!

Damn You Kripke!! (I'm warming up too).
# Rivalhunter 2009-05-11 02:54
Ive wondered on this site a few times but I kinda wanna butt in lol

What I've been thinking. Ruby cant be Lilith.
Ruby knows how to fix a colt because she had a demon killing knife so she would know spells to cast on a gun sounds reasonable. She knows spells and seals because she was a witch and a smart one at that.

When Sam drinks Rubys blood it powers him up just like any other demon blood, but dont you think that if Ruby (meat suit) was Lilith in disguise and being "FD" would boost him higher then Lilith body the first time around but it didn't they were equals. sorry I typed too fast if u dont get it I'll explain lol

Which is why I think Ruby is working for Lilith by telling Sam to kill her becuase she would be the last seal (theory) lol but we'll see! :]
# elle2 2009-05-11 07:06
Hi,, Tigershire, Alice and Rivalhunter (Welcome Rivalhunter, butt in anytime!)

Tigershire -- I know I'm gonna need lotsa kleenex -- I love where this story is going but I'll admit that even as a willing passenger I do kinda wanna know a little hint to the future such as...will the boys' relationship be rebuilt, you know, stronger than it was? Please, puhleeze!

Alice, Oh, I hope you do get another chance to interview Sera Gamble and if you do absolutely ask her what she was intending with Alastair...that scene really threw me until I looked at it in the whole progression for Sam. I'll admit, the fangirl in me was kinda hoping for some admission from Alastair that what he was doing to Sam was just a taste of what he had done to Dean for 30 years....oooooh , the angst there.

Rivalhunter, I agree that I don't think Ruby is Lilith but I do think that Tigershire is onto something that it is quite telling the two of them have never been seen together. On the surface it makes sense as supposedly Ruby wants Lilith dead as she stated in S3 and now in S4 she's supposedly on the run from Lilith after being tortured in hell BUT I think the bigger thing is is that Ruby and Lilith are in cahoots...we'll see. I have lots of questions and there are many things I'm hoping to see this Thursday and the Space Promo has given me some hints to things I'm hoping tos ee that will be there but then again, a less than a minute promo out of a 39 - 42 minute episode doesn't reveal a whole lot. Still, even knowing there's a loooooooonnnnnn ggggggg wait after this Thursday's eppie, I'm really looking forward to it.

# Suze 2009-05-11 09:26
Hi Guys

I just hope that we get some kind of closure! If I have to spend all summer constructing ever more complex conspiracy theories about who's using who my brain is going to melt.

My current one is as follows ... Sam and Dean are both being exploited by higher ( sic ) powers who want to bring about the end of humanity. Them fighting to the death will be the final seal. One kills t'other then KAPOW bye-bye world. Sort of riffing on Cain and Abel ... Only when push comes to shove whichever one ends up on top can't do it as lurrve conquers all and everything comes down to family and so on ... Insert your favourite Winchester cliche here :lol:

I don't know if anyone out there has read a book called "Good Omens". It's about how the Apocalypse is derailled at the 11th hour when the Antichrist, who has grown up human after a bit of a baby swopping incedent at the maternity hospital, decides he doesn't much fancy either Heaven or Hell and rather likes the world the way it is, thank you very much, and doesn't pull the switch after all ... Much to the disgust of the assembled multitudes who are just gagging for a fight.

It's probably all rubbish but my mind's going round like a squirrel in a cage at the moment ... Bloody Eric! There should be some kind of law ...
# Tigershire 2009-05-11 13:02
Hi Rivalhunter - yea, you bring a good point about the blood.

This whole show is a like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are perfect squares and blank, but they have an extact way they fit together.

Suze - closure from Kripke? I dunno, you know how much he likes to taunt us fans (not like it's hard). Heck, according to Jensen, he didn't even know if/when Dean was getting out of Hell last go around so if the Master won't tell the actors....I think we're SOL. :D
# Elle 2009-05-11 16:09
I really like the theory about Lilith and Ruby being one, but I agree with Alice, there may be too many things such as Dean seeing the faces that contradict that. I have heard other theories about Ruby and her actual identity - one I especially like was that she was Meg. I don't know how true that is, but if you think about - she was Azazel's "daughter" so that would make a little sense. Either way, I think Ruby is e-v-i-l. Period.
# Rivalhunter 2009-05-11 23:30
Thanx for the welcomes y'all lol

yeah Ive heard that one too, that ruby being meg but the seal rise of the witnesses proves it wrong because meg returned to kill the boys while ruby was still around not in the same ep but she was still around before, in cahoots with sam...
# Tigershire 2009-05-12 00:43
Actually, Meg is the name of the real girl that the demon daughter of Azazel possessed. We never did learn the demon's real name.

So it was the ghost of the real girl Meg that attacked the boys during the rising of the witnesses, not the demon.

Since the boys only sent the demon possessing Meg back to Hell, theoretically she could come back i.e. Ruby.

Make sense? I hope?