Ah, "The Benders." What can you say about this episode? It's so"¦depraved. For the first time, the MOTW is just one really sick family. John Shiban, complete with X-Files pedigree, wrote this episode, so naturally the comparisons are made to that series' icky tale of a family gone horribly wrong. This might not be the stomach churning, completely disturbing inbreeding tale the X-Files "Home" was, but for whatever reason I like that series'version better.  I think it was the Johnny Mathis tune that won me over in that one.   
The storytelling just isn't as good in "The Benders."  The building mystery, the jaw-dropping "ew-yuck!" at the end didn't happen here. I know this is supposed to have a lot of creepy suspense, like the basement and house filled with body parts, blood, and Polaroid pictures of victims, but it didn't work. The people reveal happened too soon.  Once Sam figured that out, the plot lost all its steam. The Benders themselves were way over the top. Pa Bender wasn't creepy as much as he was just sick and wrong. I also have a hard time believing that people disappearing for decades, including their cars all being kept in one place on the lot, didn't get anyone to that farm sooner. You see how quickly Dean figured it out? Hibbing, Minnesota didn't seem that backwoods to me.

Saminacage

There are some really good things about this episode. Sam's disappearance is a cool suspense filled scene and he looks pretty hot all caged up like that.  I know, behave myself.  Kathleen, the deputy, is one of the best guest characters yet. She and Dean are great together on screen. She's really smart and catches onto Dean's ploy quickly, but is willing to keep an open mind since Sam's disappearance mirrors her brother's from years ago. Her pain over her brother, her struggle between being law enforcement and a sister wanting revenge, is brilliantly done. In the end, she calmly shoots the perpetrator while trying to escape. Considering she shot a wounded man that was taunting her, we know better. The exchange between her, Sam, and Dean in the end confirms it was an act of revenge but they're all willing to let it go. This is where those nonverbal exchanges this show is now known for start hitting their stride. 

Deputy

There are some great lines in this episode. The scene with Dean being interrogated by the Benders has some of the best sound bites this series has ever had. "How about it's not nice to marry your sister?" "Yeah, well, don't sell yourself short. You're plenty sloppy." "If I tell you, do you promise not to turn me into an ashtray?" "Oh, eat me! No, no, no, wait, wait, you actually might." My favorite quote though is the tagline that fans constantly repeat to this day. "Demons I get. People are crazy!"

SickFamily

Overall grade, a C+. Not a total stinker, but this one rarely makes my re-watch list. 


Comments  

Randal
# Randal 2010-01-26 11:24
Given that this was the first episode of Supernatural that I ever saw, perhaps my fondness is a bit colored by such misty watercolor memories, and no, it's not as much of a gut punch as the monumental Home, but I really dig this episode.

Even with the really huge plot hole of the missing cars. C'mon, no cop EVER checked out that side road? Is Officer Kathleen the only law enforcement employee in the town?

And certainly can't forget about another example of Dean the Geek:
"That's my favorite Godzilla movie. It's so much better than the original, huh?"
"Totally."
"Yeah. He likes the remake."
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-01-26 12:41
This episode is not usually a fan favorite. I like it though. The MOTW is creepy enough for me and Kathleen, the police cop, is cool. But above all, I find Dean's brotherly concern adorable. I really miss those times when the bond between them were so evident. And Alice, don't worry, you're not alone. Sammy DOES look hot in that cage. ;-)
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-01-26 14:45
I actually really like this one.
Ok, it has moments that I FF but all in all I like it.

Dean all in big-brother -mode and Sam caged *yum* Officer Kathleen is a awesome guest star, one of the best in my book. Her scenes with Dean are lovely, it's like two "kindred spirits" in a way or something. They just seemed similar.
I lovelove the interogation -scene and that with Deans "If you hurt my brother..." -line really gets me every time. Superb.

Plus the guys in ranger -outfits AND Sam in a t-shirt in one eppie, WIN :-)
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-01-26 16:38
This is one of my all time top loved episodes! Never get tired of viewing it.

Really feel for Dean's despair when Sam disappears and his determination to find him no matter what. Even by going to the police!

Love Officer Kathleen and the back and forth between her and Dean. Loved that she finally agreed to keep looking after finding out he wasn't who he claimed.

Loved Sam and how he was calm and sensible and trying to do something, even if it only won him a bracket, which came in real handy much later. Actually, Dean and Kathleen came to save Sam, and he ended up saving the both of them himself.

To me the Benders were the creepiest of creepy humans I'd seen in a long time. (I do remember "Home" and that unspeakable family in my former favourite TV show which was directed by Kim I believe).

Loved Dean's exchanges with them while captive. So very Dean like. He can never keep from smart mouthing off at the worst times. And he went ballistic when he thought Sam had been shot. Love him for that!

Just one of my most favourite episodes and if I give it a grade it would be A+ for how much I do enjoy watching it over again.
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-01-27 11:23
I also really liked this episode. I loved the brotherly moments and Dean's snarky comments.

3 scenes I particularly liked were 1) when Sam first disappears and Dean is looking outside around the bar and he is out on the street calling out for Sam and his last call out to Sam is just a normal voice level 'Sam', not yelling which is different in S2's AHBL - but it is still desperate. 2) as mentioned before, Dean's interaction with the kid talking about the Godzilla movies and 3) when Dean finds Sam, his reaction to finding Sam, the smile, the look of relief, the slam of his fist against the cage, and then the attempt to release him from the cage. I love that sequence.

Overall I would give this episode an A.
Randal
# Randal 2010-01-27 13:46
Alice, hell, I was disappointed there wasn't *more* of a creep factor. Either that, or I, too, have psychic powers. :D
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-01-27 13:50
I agree with all the comments.:-) I usually judge an episode more by its brotherly content than by the actual plot, and for the reasons already mentioned by other posters I have no complaints about this one. Good old SPN school, like we don't see very often these days. I know that the story has to evolve and the characters change in the process but I have a guilty confession to make: I liked it better back then.
Robin Vogel
# Robin Vogel 2010-01-29 19:18
I never got into X-Files, so I can't compare it to SUPERNATURAL, but I love "The Benders." I was impressed that there was no MOTW, just humans equally as sick. Dean's quote--""Demons I get, people are crazy"--is something that comes back to me time and again.

I think I prefer demons, because you always know where you stand with 'em! I still remember how much the youngest Bender, the daughter, gave me the creeps, and when they were about to brand Dean with that poker. . .brrrrrr!

Sam in a cage was just so adorable, I wanted one of my own! I know, don't judge! As for Kathleen, she and Dean had some amazing chemistry, and I loved how she worked with him even after learning the truth about him. She understood only too well how he felt--and I cheered when she shot Papa Bender. It seemed like frontier justice, and completely fair to me.

Love, Robin