(Note from Alice) As I mentioned in the "Share Your Reactions" article, Robin Vogel is going to begin sharing her episode reviews for Supernatural here on our site.  I'm very pleased to have her unique point of view.  So enjoy and try to answer the questions raised.  There's no right answer! 

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Episode 5.11 – Sam, Interrupted
--Robin's Ramblings
 
Poor Susan! Who wants to be locked in a facility where patients scream and nurses and doctors just ignore it? Especially after there have been several suicides already? I was getting chills at the sub-par care in this place and making a note that I don't want to be committed there. Those screws untwirling themselves from the grate scared me. I was really afraid for Susan and wished the ghost of her son, who I truly believed had been there, could have helped the poor woman. I guess wraiths trump ghosts.
 
How ironic is their world that all Dean and Sam had to do to get committed was tell the truth about their lives? We hunt monsters, freed Lucifer, have an angel pal named Castiel who wears a trench coat and Sam was chugging demon Ruby's blood. If you don't know what WE do about their lives, it DOES sound nutty, doesn't it? No wonder the doctor canceled lunch and committed them right away.
 
Nurse “Ratched”, as Dean dubbed her, certainly had her fun with the brothers, the kind fan-girls only dream about—complete physicals, prostate exams included! Full scrub-down showers, raise your hands if you want to participate! Sam and Dean looked awfully uncomfortable after she was through with them, but when was the last time those two even saw a doctor? Probably the last time they were mortally hurt, is my guess! It amused me, too, that this gal said “Okey-dokey,” a term Dean said, in season one, that he favors. Wonder how he'll feel about it now? 
 
What went through your mind when the doctor told Sam and Dean he feels their relationship is “dangerously co-dependent.” Agree or disagree? Isn't that what's probably kept them alive all these years as hunters, dysfunctional though it may be to a shrink?
 
Who thinks it ironic that a mental patient, Ted, wants to discuss the monster killing people while the supposedly sane doctor insists there are no monsters. Sam and Martin both know the truth, but don't dare say so in the group. What a tangled, sick situation it is, made worse because it's a mental hospital and no one will listen to the patients!
 
What was Wendy's deal--she just enjoyed kissing handsome patients, the bigger, the better? Would Dean have even considered having sex with her, given her mental state, or was he just kidding with his “so torn” statement? When she came flying by again, Dean was all set to push her away, but it was Sam she wanted! He kept his mouth closed, however, not responding with his brother's eagerness. Unlike Dean, Sam didn't take advantage of the fruit that was offered. 
 
I think Sam should have studied medicine, not law. He's become a regular coroner this season, cutting up corpses. It seemed a bit convenient for the skull cutter to be so available, but I also felt the patients had the run of this asylum, able to come and go as they wished. How expertly Sam cut the skull and removed the brain! I was impressed. Even more impressive was how Dean got them out of trouble when Nurse Ratched showed up—dropping his pants to yell “Pudding”? My first thought was, is he wearing any underpants? Then I laughed until I cried. 
 
Dean thinks Doc is the wraith, Sam attacks him and ends up drugged and confined, alone, in a room. When big brother breaks in, little brother is a stoned mess; hilarity ensues. Sam declares himself AWESOME and suggests to Dean that maybe he's going crazy for real. Dean, annoyed, just says he just made a mistake. Holding Dean's shoulders, Sam croons, "It's OK, hey, look at me, it's OK, 'cause you're my brother, and I still love ya." He tweaks Dean's nose with a "BOOP" sound. The expressions on Padalecki's face here had me rolling on my living room floor, I was laughing that hard. This scene was priceless!
 
When Dean is playing checkers, who thinks he's already gone bonkers and really believes he's playing with a partner when “Erica” comes over? Is she EVER real? Or just someone he invents to make himself feel guilty? Look at what she “asks” him—poor sleep patterns, alcoholic behavior, lack of a long-term relationship, his FATHER? Later, “she” hits him with his failures--getting Ellen and Jo killed, shooting but not killing Lucifer, not stopping Sam from killing Lilith, and Dean himself breaking the first seal. â€œDid you really think that you, Dean Winchester, with a GED and a give 'em hell attitude were going to beat the devil? Please! The world is going to burn and there is nothing you can do about it!" These are things Dean is accusing himself of, because an orderly tells him no one is there. How Dean can continue to berate himself for things that are totally out of his hands amazes me. 
Dean, via his made-up shrink, asks himself how he gets up in the morning, given the weight of saving six billion people is on his shoulders. His answer? â€œGood question.” 
 
Later, poor Sam has a similar experience, believing everyone in the common room had ganged up on him and was calling him his usual hated FREAK! He found himself lashing out at absolutely nobody and was confined to a rubber room, where he was leather trussed up food for Nurse Wraith. The scene in which she was telling him how much she loved her job and how delicious insane brains were gave me the creeps. She was such a chirpy, happy little thing, bubbling about the mental hospital being a five star restaurant, but when she was touching Sam's forehead and lapping up his taste, I was both grossed out and jealous.
 
The gore score was high in this ep—the huge blood pool under poor Susan, Sam's little autopsy of Ted's brain, cutting of real and fake wraiths, insertions and removals of the Wraith's brain juicer, Dean's final thrust into the Wraith's chest.    
 
What pleased me was how both Dean and Martin, despite their fears and self-doubt, managed to overcome everything to do what needed to be done. They dredged up the hunter in their confused minds. Martin slashed the Wraith's hand and tended to Wendy; Dean killed the wraith and saved Sam.   
 
I had hoped that Dean had learned to open up after 40 years in hell, but I guess repression dies hard. He still can't discuss or cry over or do anything but blame himself for the deaths of Jo and Ellen—and everything else. When the lovely Dr. Erica came to talk to him, especially about his father, I had hopes for him, because if anyone truly needs tons of therapy, it's our Dean (and Sam, too, but we'll get to that bucket of crazy later). When it turned out that she wasn't real, just Dean's hallucination who eventually beat him up over all his “failures,” I felt terrible for him. It all comes back to his low self-esteem, something else I thought he'd overcome, at least somewhat, when he told Sam back in season three that he didn't deserve to die or go to hell. Did going to hell result in undoing whatever emotional/ psychological progress he had made?
 
Finally, we have the last scene. Dean orders Sam to submerge his anger so they can get on with saving the world. Sam, who has finally admitted that he's angry all the time and doesn't know why, or, apparently, what to do about it, agrees. I can't help but feel this will have unfortunate consequences, perhaps even lead to the terrible meeting in Detroit, where Sam will say yes. Anger repressed leads to depression and a whole host of other, nastier problems. Sam's interrupted, OK, and Dean's the one who's interrupting him! 
 
Preferring to leave you on a lighter note, let me say I loved this episode! Pudding! 

Comments  

Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-01-22 22:33
Robin, thanks for the recap. This was a fun episode that brings a lot of the boy’s issues to the surface. Both boys' 'craziness' was their subconscious coming to the surface. It was good to see Sam acknowledge his anger, which was an important step for him, however given what had just happened, delving into it at that time would not have been the best of all ideas. Neither Sam or Dean were in good enough shape to discuss Sam’s anger issues. Dean certainly wasn’t….he had just fought through his own fears to get himself out of that mind set and he did it by denying them. And when Dean is ready to discuss his guilt about Ellen and Jo, he will.

Interesting when Sam had Dean repeat what Ruby had said to him in the convent. You know that it is his worst fear, that would Dean find that out. He really should tell Dean. That would really go far in helping Sam understand why he is so angry. Dean does not really think Sam is a freak….it’s just too bad Sam really thinks he does. Sam just needs to like himself better.

To me, Sam, Interrupted had a deeper meaning. I felt the interruption in Sam’s life was his subconscious surfacing, giving him a look at his 'other side'...a side we all have, just not at the boys' level.

And yes, when Sam said he was with Dean, he meant it. They both know better than to part again!

As far as being codependent, they are…and for them it's a necessity. That’s probably a good part of the reason they are still alive! I’m glad that wasn’t twisted all around in this episode.

As for the 'pudding' dance, aren't we all glad Dean never grew up! :D :D :D
Karen
# Karen 2010-01-23 02:16
Hi Robin
Welcome to the clan.
I have to say the hospital care was pretty pathetic.
I can’t believe their coroner didn’t even notice a 4-6 inch stab wound on the side of each of their heads.

As for being dangerously co-dependant, I would have to agree, but they need to be in order to survive. They only have each other, besides Bobby and Castiel.

I loved the scene with Sam drugged up and Dean coming to check on him.
To see Sam being such a softy, kind of gave me a ray of hope that Sam could survive all this, and not say yes.

I think Sam is more afraid of the anger issues, because of Lucifer telling him to keep that anger. It must some how help develop or strengthen his powers, or possibly it’s what sends Sam over the edge.

I don’t blame Dean for not wanting to deal with their issues. There is too much at stake. Plus I believe he’s afraid that if he stops and tries to deal with his emotions, it may be too much and he will just give up.

Thanks for the recap..

I have to agree Sablegreen,I'm also happy that Dean never grew up.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-01-23 05:49
Robin, your ramblings are most welcome! Your approach to asking questions and – hopefully – provoke a discussion is great! Loved it! Okay, here are my (how do you yanks call it?) two cents:

You’re right, no decent mental hospital would ignore the patients in that way – especially after a flood of suicides (believe me, given normal circumstances, more than one suicide in a week is considered to be really much, as patients who are in danger of taking that step are specifically monitored and taken care of). I wouldn’t want to even work where had I the impression that patients were not taken care of properly. This is, after all, human material.

Love your question about whether their ‘dangerous’ co-dependency was the asset that kept them alive – taken from my professional point of view: every person owns some kind of personal space. Within that decisions are made, emotions are felt, plans are carried out. We are social being, however (well, mostly), and so there is often a kind of intersection, as in set theory, with the spaces of others, especially with those people closest to you. You share beliefs and hopes and emotions which is needed in a relationship. If that intersection becomes too large, as in a symbiosis, the individual disappears behind the definition of being a couple or a family. That is never good. When people in a relationship suppress their wishes or pretend they didn’t have them, sooner or later their system (as families or partners are regarded as a system) will collapse in one way or the other. We need our personal definitions and choose the compromises necessary to lead a life that might give us some contentment.

From that from standpoint Sam and Dean’s relationship is really in danger of that, and perhaps we are witnessing the beginning of it.

Personally, I think that kind of relationship kept them alive, yes, but as they have evolved, their relationship has not in the same way, as it had been poisoned by the events we’ve seen them go through. They would probably need to re-arrange their positions within their relationship – but, well, since the creators want Sam to say Yes to Lucifer, that re-arrangement might not happen so fast… I’m still hoping for a good ending, though.

The way Dean shuts Sam down in the end was quite disturbing to me. It’s pretty clear, that Dean has difficulties listening to that ‘it was always me’ story of Sam, but it’s the truth. ‘You didn’t need the feather to fly, you had in you the whole time, Dumbo’. Ruby’s words are still lodged in my brain like a silver bullet (no, I’m not a werewolf, as far as I know…), and I would bet that Sam can’t stop thinking about that, either. All that anger … it keeps reminding me of that scene in ReturnOfTheJedi when the emperor keeps urging Luke to give in to the dark side… and it scares me. Oh, Sammy…

Oh, you Winchesters, get over here, I’ll help you with that (come on, even therapists have dreams… People often think we should be above such things, but hey, I’m not, …gosh, confession time, ouch….)

Repression is the modus operandi in this family. More or less. I wish they would begin to see the advantages of opening one’s mouth. Not to kiss, Dean, sweetie, but to get it out of your system. Much healthier. Much, much healthier.

In concur with Karen, here – given his emotional state (which is really, really fragile) taking a look into that pit might just crush him. It’s painful to see what they are going through for the greater good. I’d love to save them, but then again – the most important lesson everyone who deals with people has to learn is: you can’t save everyone. Dean’s heard that before.

This episode was so full of layers. Is it possible the show is getting even better? Are they trying to reach Olympus? Well, if it goes on like that, we’ll be there in no time.

somewhat breathless, Jas
Randal
# Randal 2010-01-23 10:38
Awesome stuff here, Robin.

Oh hell, like everyone has said (or should say, muahahahaha, etc.) of course such dangerous co-dependence has been a life saver. In *this* job, the one that would surely be ranked number one in those annual Most Dangerous Employment lists? Is it okay if answer your questions with questions?

Funny how in Bloodlust, Sam was ready to cookie toss when merely sticking his fingers in a mouth (albeit a decapitated one) and a few short years later, he's playing Evil B-Movie Doctor.

I'm guessing 40 years of hell would certainly lake-of-fire that small reservoir of self-esteem into rancid sulfur, but to have come out of there (divine intervention or no) would have to have SOME positive effect (hey, I escaped THAT f-ing place) but is it buried so deep under the ever-growing pile of doubt that is easily slips back in control?

'tis easier to destroy than build and given his personality, forgetting the happy-go-luckyi sh lusty self-defense mechanisms, 'tis easier to wallow in misery than grab that rope to pull you out of the muck, much of it of your own making.

I'll have to steal Jas' phrase of a look into that pit. He can't, knowing (even if it's just the faintest whisper) that if he does, he won't be able to *live*, let alone do his job. I have to steal from sablegreen, too, this might be one of those episodes that is going to resonate with importance further down the line. There is such a huge strata of unresolved emotion between them both, internally and Old Scratch is gonna manipulate it like Kasparov would me in a game of chess.
elle2
# elle2 2010-01-23 11:11
Hi, Robin,

Welcome aboard. ...was she ever real? I don't think so, although I dearly hoped that her first interaction with Dean would have been real I think it's just him trading information with...well, himself. Too bad.

As for Dean interrupting Sam...until Sam learns to deal with his anger, without Dean telling him how and I firmly believe he will as he's always had the ability to find his own path, there is going to be much anger to deal with.

Bring on the angst!
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-01-23 15:20
Good to have you here, Robin. A really fun review.

Great episode! Your questions are hard ones. Perhaps their co-dependence is unhealthy, but who else do they have to depend on? They must survive to continue their story, and as Dean was as much a father to Sam as he is a brother, it's no wonder they have that closeness.

Loved what Sam said to Dean when he was high as a kite. I've been waiting a long time for the "I love you" from Sam to Dean. It was so cute and satisfying. I hope Dean remembers it as he wasn't quite his usual self at the moment either.

And that "Pudding" bit was hilarious. I truly think he dropped all at that moment or we would have seen it on camera. Haha! And his little dance! LOL! Love him!

As to whether that Doctor was partly real, I think Dean created her inside his mind. He seems to expect to be castigated for all his supposed failings. Whatever Nurse Ratchet did to the boys right at the beginning, it was a wonder they achieved all that they did.

Also, there didn't seem to be any time to be discussing feelings and angsty stuff at the Impala, as they had just made their escape in their scrubs and really needed to put in some distance from the asylum. Sam should bring it up again when they are in a motel room and safe from pursuit. Though I am sure that Dean does not want to bring HIS stuff to the fore at this time. How could he keep it together if he let himself go that way? Or maybe he remembers what happened the last time he unburdened himself to his brother. It backfired spectacularly!

Loved this episode and it's many layers. Hope Martin is OK after all that. Poor guy! He did good!
Amelia
# Amelia 2010-01-23 16:04
Nice recap! I'd suggest that the reason Dean doesn't open up isn't because he's incapable... he opened up after Hell. The problem was, opening up made Sam think he was weak (as revealed in the "boo hoo" speech from Sex and Violence as well as his talk with Ruby in On The Head of a Pin, which Dean fortunately didn't hear), and made Bobby think he was an ungrateful, whiny princess (Lucifer Rising).

So, opening up has been punished over and over again in season 4, and Dean's not a slow learner. I think he now knows that this kind of "weakness" or "flaw" isn't permissible with his family.