Okay, all that virtual arm twisting has paid off. Upon request, I pulled out the season two DVDs (okay, I picked them up from their reserved spot next to the TV) and took on two of the most gut-wrenching episodes done on this show. "All Hell Breaks Loose" is right.
These episodes made their significant mark, escalating the mytharc to a whole new level. Part I was all about Sam and his test, Part II put Dean through his. Sam faced his evil destiny, and Dean, oh poor Dean, faced his worst nightmare. In the end, Dean came out as the most broken. Considering Sam's ordeal resulted in death, Dean sank pretty low.
It all starts with the season-ending montage and for the record, I hate Boston. The use of "Don't Look Back" here didn't impress me one bit. The teaser did though, in a spectacular way. To the bad music we get a perfect brotherly squabble, Sam griping over Dean's request for extra onions. And pie. Yeah, I shudder at that combination, too. Sam goes into the diner alone, and no time is wasted as static comes on the radio and everyone in the diner is gone. Wouldn't have Dean learned by now, especially after "Born Under A Bad Sign," that Sam getting food is trouble? Anyway, Dean jumps into action, and there's an insane amount of water everywhere. It didn't stop raining during the entire shoot, so this episode is a watery mess.
"Stand By Your Man" is on the jukebox, and I'm wondering if that's the song I want my throat slashed to. Dean finds dead bodies, sulfur on the back door, and no Sam. We get the first of two dramatic shouts in the open air of "SAM!" and I wonder how much prep Jensen put into that. He nailed it, both times.
Cut to Sam, who's unconscious in Frontierland. A very wet one. The cell phone doesn't work, so that plan's shot. Sam hears a noise, turns the corner, and it's Andy! Easily one of my favorite characters because no one has a healthier perspective on life. He proves it when the last thing he remembers was his fourth bong load.
Sam suddenly realizes Dean might be dead. Gee, how long did that take? My brother would have been the first thing on my mind. A woman screams from a shed, and it's Ava. After seeing Andy, we saw that one coming. It's a psychic kids family reunion.
She's at her flaky best, but there's no time for that, for we meet this week's potential red shirts, Jake and Lily. Awkward introductions abound, and Sam adds to the strangeness by saying the word "demon." Come on Sam, how about breaking the ice a bit more? Right here is one of the first things that derails this episode. Jake and Lily are both terrible casting choices, and the bad acting doesn't help their mediocre lines. It really makes me appreciate all Jensen and Jared do with nothing.
Dean and Bobby are on the case, so why not call Ash? He's so smart. For the record, I didn't mind the roadhouse in season two. I think it was used too often, but I liked Ellen and Ash and how in "Hunted" someone from there ratted out Sam to Gordon. By this episode though, a torching didn't bother me one bit. It was time for it to go. I was sad that Ash went with it, but we saw that coming a mile away when he nervously told Dean he couldn't talk over the phone. This scene gives us a great Dean line: "We're looking at a three thousand mile haystack here." Only three thousand? Demons don't hang in Canada and Mexico?
Back to the wild west, and Sam explains what's going on. As expected, everyone thinks he's nuts. Sam manages to effectively prove his point though by taking a page from the Dean Winchester school of badass and obliterating an Acheri with an iron poker in one full swing. That's a way to make an impression. While Andy freaks out over "demons are real" Sam reveals they're in the legendary deserted ghost town of Cold Oak, South Dakota. I'm with Lily, time to get the hell out of Dodge. An attempted escape by all probably would have made this story more interesting. Lily tells us her sob story about killing her girlfriend by touching her, and I wondered why she didn't touch herself too. That would have ended that story.
I'm taking time here to point out how much I'm enjoying Sam assuming the role of leader of this group of misfits. This is the leader Sam was meant to be, and he makes us proud through the entire episode. It's a shame to see him avoid such qualities in season three. He's really hot like this, just like his brother.
Oh damn, the roadhouse burned down, Ash is crisp toast. I'm so shocked.
Next Ava is scared, Lily is rightfully dead, and I'm realizing this episode is loaded with plenty of filler.
This next scene is one of my favorite parts. Andy finds a way to get through to Dean, using his highly developed mind control abilities to send visions. I need that power! Maybe it'll get my kids to behave and the hubby to take out the trash. He uses a receipt Sam gives him, signed "D. Hasselhoff." Oh, come on, what happened to the rock star aliases? The Hoff? Well, he is big in Germany. Anyway, Dean is hit with a vision, clutching dearly onto the Impala for support, and addresses Bobby's strange look by claiming, "I'm not some psychic." So, he gets hit with a bigger vision. Hee! Too bad Sam wasn't there to tease him about being psychic. This time he sees Sam and a bell. "That was about as fun as getting kicked in the jewels." Now he knows how Sam feels.
Luckily Bobby knows about Cold Oak too, and they're off. Good thing they just happened to be in South Dakota.
In the meantime, Sam and Jake bond, and here we see how bad an actor Aldis Hodge is. I didn't believe any of the angst or the tension the script was trying to convey. He even made Jared seem flat, making me appreciate what Jared and Jensen do together. They feed off each other. These two sucked the life out of one another.
We get more Sam and Ava bonding, and gasp, I'm bored. Normally I would welcome this tender side of Sam by melting, but now, I'm just waiting for something to happen.
I didn't have to wait long! Sam drifts asleep, and poof, there's yellow eyes. Jared and Frederic Lehne do feed off each other. The hatred bubbling to the surface within Sam is haunting, and the yellow-eyed demon is deliciously evil as he tells Sam his disturbing plan with glee. This is survival of the fittest, and only one gets out alive. That winner becomes The General. That's all? Shouldn't he throw in some steak knives too?
I'm not pondering that plot twist though, for Sam gets to go back to the night his mother died, hooking me in. This scene has raised a huge stink among the fandom, and to this day has left us with many unanswered questions. Mary recognizes yellow eyes, right after he feeds baby Sam demon blood - two stunning developments that Sam has yet to share with Dean. Two stunning developments that better be answered in season four. Does this mean Sam is part demon? Did Mary give up her second-born to evil? Was Mary killed for a reason, or was it bad timing like yellow eyes claimed? Many fan fics have tried to answer these questions. Now Kripke needs to.
Sam wakes up because Ava is missing. He and Jake go look, while Andy the coward stays behind the salt. Uh oh. Ava appears, and she's evil. Bye bye, Andy! Sniff. Can he come back as a fun loving ghost, please?
There's no fooling Sam, as he puts two and two together when he sees the broken salt line. I was really disappointed by Jake taking out Ava. I wanted to see Sam do it. I know Sam's supposed to take the high road and not kill anyone, but it still didn't feel right.
Oh look, it's Dean! You know, the other Winchester brother? Blink and you miss him though, for he and Bobby grab weapons and go on foot. Sorry, but that's a classic episode filler tactic, and didn't make much sense here. The Impala should have been at Sam and Dean's side at the end.
Sam suggests to Jake they can leave now, but Jake bought yellow eye's bullshit. As we especially learn in the next episode, he's no Einstein. They fight, and we wonder how in the world Sam can defeat someone whose power is superhuman strength. I was hoping Sam would realize he has that power too and they go off on each other in a mega colossal fight to the death. But no, after a hit from Jake results only in a dislocated shoulder (Huh? His arm should have been ripped off!), Sam proves he's got some wicked iron bar skills.
Okay, here we are, the most crucial moment in the entire series. Sam's choice here sets off the supernatural chain of falling dominos. Jake's unconscious, and Sam has his chance. One blow with that iron bar and Jake's a goner. Sam rears back, shows his scary killer instinct, and we're all shouting, "Do it!" Sam hesitates, and in a decision he wishes he could take back, puts the bar down. After all, killing Jake plays into yellow eye's evil plot. While we were cheering that choice, knowing it was the right one morally, embracing the Sam Winchester we know and love, it proves to be not only his downfall, but Dean's as well.
This part is so painful to watch, and crushes my heart into 800 pieces every time. I'll do my best to recap without bawling, but if you see erratic typing, you know why. Sam hears Dean's voice off to the distance. Clutching his hurt shoulder, he stupidly turns his back on Jake and responds, relieved to see his brother is alive.
This is one of a couple of in-your-face examples of how the brothers are each other's weakness. Watch out, Sam! A panicked Dean sees Jake sneak up behind Sam and plunge a knife square into his spinal cord and twist. Sammy!! [lip quivering, on the brink of tears]
Sam collapses to his knees, gasping to the sky in what Kripke calls the Platoon shot, and we know before Dean reaches him he's a goner. That's it, I'm crying now. A traumatized Dean grasps his brother before he slumps to the ground, and Sam's eyes roll to the back of his head, just to let us know how bad this really is. Sam for all practical purposes is dead, so we're just waiting for the lights to go out (give me a sec, too busy sobbing).
Reality hasn't hit Dean though, and he clings onto that brief glimmer of hope, assuring his brother in heart-crushing fashion he can get through this, despite seeing the wound that suggests otherwise. Dean is killing me here! Dean clings on. "I'm going to take care of you. I gotcha. It's my job, right, watch out for my pain-in-the-ass little brother. Sam? Sam! Sammy!" I'm bawling profusely now. Oh, Sam.
Sam slips away, and Dean clutches onto him, reality hitting him hard. Sam's eyes are closed and mouth hanging open, while Dean holds on tight and weeps. The sad music plays and we get the dramatic overhead shot of these two embraced on their knees in the mud. It's not done yet though, for Kripke loves to twist that proverbial knife in our hearts. We cut back to Dean, who shouts "SAM!" for the second time, just before more tears fall. Excuse me, I'm inconsolable. (Deep breath in). Damn you, Kripke! You too, Sera Gamble, who had to nerve to do this to us.
"All Hell Breaks Loose Part II" would have made a better season three premiere than a season two finale, but blame The CW and their threats of cancellation. However, if I had to go through a summer with that cliffhanger, I would have gone stark raving mad. After all, Sam couldn't even say goodbye. Sniff. Lucky for me, I watched this for the first time on DVD. Sam's death came out of nowhere (he was not my red shirt guess), and was far more of a shock than the prophesized "Dean is going to Hell" death in season three.
Overall, I give this episode a B. It was slow for three quarters and the supporting acting was substandard, but that ending doesn't get any more stunning. The next episode is far more challenging, for there are many ramifications from Dean's meltdown and the inadvertent start of the demon war. Stay tuned!