I sat at the keyboard for a while Thursday night, jaw hung open, unable to type a single letter, not exactly how to review this episode. Sure, "Time On My Side" was pretty shocking, but the preview for the next week's season finale was what did it, turning me into an official mess until then. I eventually could only type expletives like "Wow!", "Whoa!", "Holy @#$*!", and then I screamed my fool head off and found I couldn't type that.
After a while, and another rewatch, I found the frame of mind to go on. But before I do, I need to get out of the way a happy announcement. In my previous articles about the online Supernatural fandom, I mentioned a fight by fans in Bulgaria to get Supernatural shown on TV there. I received word this week that the pilot episode aired there on May 7, and now Bulgarians get to experience the same joy we do. Congratulations to everyone at Supernatural BG Fans for their successful efforts.
This episode should have been called "There Ain't No Happy Ending." When Rufus candidly spoke those words to Dean, they hit me like a ton of bricks and judging by Dean's reaction, I'd say they got to him, too. This episode was all about bad endings, but delivered that notion in such a creepy and disturbing way that left me huddled in a corner for a while thinking about puppies and rainbows.
Oh Dean, how do I wonder about all the crap in your head right now. Live or die, you're doomed. We got a powerful reminder of the eternal torment awaiting him by the second scene when they were interrogating the demon. "A few of us will be at the meet and greet for Dean Winchester." I was every bit as unnerved by that as Dean was. Later, he leaves Sam behind, accepting after Sam's defiance that from now on Sam must fight his own battles. Every facial expression conveyed his worry, his uncertainty, but ultimately his trust. At least one of them is showing a sign of letting go. Then, again with more agonizing facial expressions, we see every word that Rufus told him hit way too close to home. "We all got it coming." Ouch. Finally, after leaving Bela, he accepted the inevitable. He was screwed. All that was left to do was save Sam and get rid of the evil creature while he still could. There ain't no happy ending.
Damn you show, how dare you make me feel sympathy for Bela after I've been pleading for her all season to be gutted like a fish. I didn't see her having a demon deal coming. I should have given all the clues, but I didn't. Thank you Sera Gamble (this week's writer) for giving us something that believably explains her rotten behavior all this time. Ten years of thieving and procuring items just to find something that might save her own soul or protect her. After all that though, she couldn't save herself, which sets up for next week what has been hinted for several episodes now, its all but hopeless for Dean. Why didn't she ask Sam and Dean for help? That's where the implied sexual abuse as a child fits well, too. Children who experience that sort of trauma end up with big trust issues. There ain't no happy ending.
We were led to believe from the final scene and from what was hinted in the previews for next week that Dean has accepted his fate as well. Sam found the secret to eternal life, but Dean saw the cost of living that life. He couldn't accept it and would rather die. He doesn't have the colt, and is screwed no matter what. If Bela had to face her consequences, then so must he. There ain't no happy ending.
This week's creepy freak, a doctor who uses the so called "weird science" to live forever, gave us the moral lesson that there's something to be said about dying. He's so far from human that he believed cruelly maiming and killing innocents for their parts and living like a monster was worth the price of immortality. The sentence that Dean delivered was pretty horrifying, buried alive and left to rot, but it was the only way. There ain't no happy ending.
Sam... poor, poor Sam. Sure, it's killing me to see how Dean is coming to terms with his fate, but what's even more painful to watch is that Sam isn't. He's still clinging to hope, desperately thinking the doctor had the answers and barely holding it all together. He would rather his brother live like a monster than let him go. He inconceivably let slide the fact that this doctor almost horribly disfigured him, all because he wanted that secret to eternal life. This is the more frantic Sam I expected to see last week but didn't. His walls are starting to crumble. We already got a glimpse of how Sam dies emotionally in "Mystery Spot" without Dean and we still see him taking that path. There ain't no happy ending.
Finally, there's the brothers' fractured relationship. Both should be trying to help each other cope with the inevitable end and make the most of the time left. Instead, both are fighting separate battles in which they cannot win. Sam hid his motives behind the guise of a zombie hunt, while Dean's reasons for going after Bela were flimsy at best. Sam was right when he said they were both trying to do the same thing, but they are far from being on the same page. No matter what happens now, has their relationship suffered permanently? Will they continue to keep secrets, both hiding under the motive of "protecting" the other instead of accepting the outcomes of what they are given? So many great questions for season four, but ultimately, you can't help but think, there ain't no happy ending.
Aside from the morbid realities that were thrown at everyone, this had to be easily the creepiest episode since "The Kids Are Alright", and it even went a notch beyond that one. All the perfect elements were there. Evil dude popping out of the bushes to grab people during their normal routine. I learned from this show long ago to look around while alone at night loading a trunk. Throw in some delightful bone-chilling gore, like having your heart cut out of your chest while it's still beating, and then put one of our intrepid heroes in a Clockwork Orange type predicament, targeting an eye socket with a kitchen utensil, and next thing you know, sleep is impossible. Actually, this latest run-in with creepy monster of the week inspired me to look back at this season and fondly remember all the horrible ways in which Sam Winchester has been tortured. I even came up with a top five list.
5. The entire forty minutes of "Mystery Spot". That was a Sam Winchester torture fest.
4. Accidentally tripping and falling, being set on fire, knocked out, tied up, beaten and then finally shot in "Bad Day At Black Rock." A bad day indeed.
3. Molestation with a party hat in "Ghostfacers."
2. Having his arm sliced open and whole fingernail ripped out with rusty pliers by Ozzie and Harriet, aka Pagan Gods in "A Very Supernatural Christmas." That was the clear winner untilâ€¦
1. His eyeball was nearly scooped out with a melon baller! That will bother me now every time I look into Darling Sammy's dreamy hazel eyes. Thanks, show!
Other Random Observations
Oh Dean, you're a good guy after all. Despite his hatred for Bela, he didn't shoot her, and that's pretty remarkable considering the pure ire coming from his eyes when he was staring her down. Of course we found out later it was because he figured out she had a deal, but isn't that more satisfying, forcing her to deal with her actions rather than getting his revenge? As much as I wanted him to shoot her, I realize it would have been out of character if he did.
I got an answer to one of my questions from last week. Dean said that the only way to get out of the deal where Sam doesn't die is to kill the holder of the contract. So, I now consider that whole "why isn't Dean concerned about Sam dropping dead" issue resolved. Thank you Sera Gamble! Anyone else notice that Jared actually cut his hair? Isn't this the first time this season? It was pretty freaking long the last two episodes. I liked.
As usual, there were plenty of great sound bites, but it was clear that Sera Gamble's mind was in the gutter when she was working on the script. There were many innuendos in this one, but I didn't mind. A Cleveland steamer? Oh, you didn't go there. Oh, yes you did. "You do her ear?" "Hey man, I'll try anything once, but that seems uncomfortable." Good job though on doing the homework, for identification by ear is a real thing in the UK. Not popular, but real. My favorite quote of the evening though came from Dean's witty response to Rufus' morbid prognostication. "Well, ain't you a bucket of sunshine."
Speaking of which, Steven Williams came in and delivered quite a winning guest star appearance, didn't he? As soon as I saw him in the doorway, I knew it would be good. Great casting, guys! I want to see his character back next season. Can you picture this being Dean in thirty years? Holed up in a run down house, security cameras all over, only being won over by a bottle of scotch, telling other hunters how they're gonna live and die ugly? How did he know about Dean's deal anyway? "I'm what you've got to look forward to if you survive. Which you wonâ€˜t." Definitely not a guy for warm fuzzies.
There can't be a Sera Gamble script without a heartbreaking brotherly scene. I teared up with poor Sammy when Dean left after telling him to be careful. These two have always known how to gets us deep, but somehow the nonverbal part of the drama works better when Sera is writing it. See scenes out of "Fresh Blood" and "Heart" if you don't believe me. I'm not sure how that happens, but it does.
I know that brotherly conflicts usually happen in the motel room or the Impala, but I have one small gripe. In the last several episodes, we haven't been getting much Impala action. I feel like they're pulling a House on me and scaling back a reliable character for no reason. I'm holding out hope that next week the Impala will be there near Dean's side when he faces his fate, or almost faces his fate (I won't be spoiled).
There's always something creepy about Sam going down narrow cellar staircases with his massive size. Basements plus Sam equal trouble. Want proof? See the Christmas episode. Oh, but he gets out of it. Just in time to flash his "dark side" bad-ass glare and run the guy over. You know, the same look he gave Gordon Walker just before popping his head off with razor wire or when he took out Jeremy with two swings of a baseball bat. I like seeing that Sam. He frightens me.
Grade for this episode is easily an A. I rank this among the season greats. Any episode that leaves me emotionally wrecked, quivering, and very bothered in the end did its job. Then add a preview like that, and dammit Kripke, you own my soul. Me and millions of others. See everyone at the finale next week!