Thoughts on My Bloody Valentine

How we are at episode fourteen of season five already, I'll never know. The last four weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of mytharc and emotion. I truly enjoyed this episode. Coming off last week's heart-break, the humour was much appreciated. The gore, much less so. Several watches under my belt now and this episode still requires the tissue box be close at hand. This review practically wrote itself because the episode was so rich in material, offering something new with each viewing. So without further ado, here we go.
Teaser - "I want you, all of you, inside me."
Cannibalism is possibly the most disgusting things ever and now I've seen it in full drippy red detail twice on Supernatural. While Metamorphosis still takes the cake for gore factor, My Bloody Valentine follows in a close second. Repugnant though it was, the opening sequence of this heart-wrenching (forgive the pun) episode was exceedingly well executed and most assuredly grabbed my attention.  With an opening act as visceral as this one, only a show like Supernatural could make the delightful cherub postcard as disturbing as the one Sam studies at the crime scene.
 
Cupid - "A cupid has gone rogue and we have to stop him before he kills again!"
Chemistry between the actors on Supernatural has always been one of its biggest selling features. Misha and Jensen are equally as electric in their scenes as Jared and Jensen; all so good at the straight delivery during some insane exchanges. I am eager to see the blooper reels - I wonder how many takes the naked cupid scene took. As he often does these days, Castiel provided wonderful comic relief. From the moment Dean summoned him via cell phone only to turn around and hear the conversation in stereo to the image of Cas cramming his face with hamburger, the angel icing on the episode. Further to that, I found his disdain for cupids interesting. I wonder if it is because of the "lower-order" status they hold in the angelic hierarchy or due to encounters with them and their "handshakes."
Cheese-factor aside, Cupid was enjoyable as was his entire exchange with Team Freewill.  The naked hugging as Dean yelps for aid. Castiel offering "comfort" to Cupid after they "hurt his feelings" (chiefly funny about this was Sam and Dean nominating Cas to do this and offering silent nods of encouragement).   The actor playing cupid did an excellent job - he was so innocent and jovial and then so sad at being accused by the boys. Humour notwithstanding, the link to last week's reveal that Mary and John were destined to be was wonderful. Way to twist that knife in poor Dean's heart. 
Famine - "Consume, consume. A swarm of locust in stretch pants."
This horseman surpassed War and then some. Famine struck me as a weak MOTW when I first learned he would be arriving in this episode. War was excellent, and I'd anticipated a similar character in Famine, thus nothing particularly special. Not so. This character was truly horrific in visage, voice and vice. The writers did a superb job fashioning Famine and the effects he had on the community around him. Starvation as a metaphor in all aspects of physical satiation, from drugs to food to sex was clever (high on the ick-factor, but clever) and a fine vehicle for Sam and Dean's personal struggles.
Addiction - "Wait your turn."
With Then reaching back to Sam's previous temptations, we were tipped off early that Sam's affinity for demon blood was about to come roaring back. Like the tell-tale-heart, it's interesting that Sam identifies the demon from the taunting; teasing pulse and one has to wonder if this is simply because his desire is in overdrive, amplified by Famine's presence, or if he is always this sensitive to demonic presence. Sam's continued struggle with his desire for demon blood this season is enthralling. His internal battle and deep fear of giving in to the desire to drink is real and painful to watch. The pulsing heart beat tantalizing Sam is equal both frightening and foreboding. The raw pain and shame on Sam's face when he tells Dean to lock him down and begs him to hurry devastating.
The return of Sam Winchester's psychic powers was done with dramatic flourish all the way through. The half-crazed, slow-burning rage on Sam's face as he confronts Famine is powerful, as is the power-drunk expression he adopts while exercising the demons. From his first taste of the she-demon's blood to the ruddy stains on his chin as he literally tears Famine apart from the inside out, Jared carried this chapter of the on-going addiction storyline and carried it phenomenally. I was shattered when Sam drank the blood. This emotional overload feeling amplified moment to moment, through the end of the episode as Sam screamed and called for his big brother. Oh Sammy.
Empty - "That's one deep dark nothing you got there, Dean. Can't fill it. Not with food. Not drink. Not even with sex"¦You can't win and you know it but you just keep fighting, just, keep going through the motion. You're not hungry, Dean because inside you're already dead."
For some time now, Dean has been choking down his own emotions and fear about coming days in order to do what he knows must be done in the face of the apocalypse. In Sam, Interrupted, Dean instructed Sam to "take all that crap and bury it, forget about it, because that's how we keep going" and we know from history that this is Dean's M.O., multiplied by the emotional toll and intensity of the situation. It's fair to hypothesize that at this point in time, Dean has buried quite a bit in order to keep moving forward.
Dean's struggle and the subsequent comments about "going through the motions" brought to mind a Buffy the Vampire Slayer storyline in which the title character struggles with her own calling (slayer of evil) after a traumatic time. In the infamous musical episode, she declares the following:
Every single night, the same arrangement,
               I go out and fight the fight.
               Still I always feel this strange estrangement,
               Nothing here is real, nothing here is right.
               I've been making shows of trading blows
               Just hoping no one knows
               That I've been going through the motions,
               Walking through the part,
               Nothing seems to penetrate my heart.
In direct contrast to the singer of this song, whom I would argue definitely qualifies as "dead inside"; Dean is full of anger, sorrow and sadness - all of which generate a reaction from him. So it seems that while Dean could perhaps be said to fighting as a way to avoid his feelings (which has been his M.O. from day one), if he were truly empty inside and "˜going through the motions' then the weight on his shoulder's wouldn't be slowly but surely killing him. The conclusion of tonight's episode saw Dean buckling under the crushing load and for the first time in an immensely long period, we witness Dean Winchester asking for help. The last time Dean reached out in such capacity it was an emotional phone call to his father while en-route to Kansas, to the home where his childhood died. Do I believe Dean is dead inside? No. Raw, shredded and broken absolutely, but not dead.
Plea - "Please. I can't - I need some help. Please."
Dean's emotional plea for help at the end of this episode says to me that Dean cannot possibly be dead inside. Going through the motions, as it were, would not elicit the tearful reaction to his brother's relapse and the request for help with the increasingly heavy burden upon Dean's shoulders. Nor do I believe this "emptiness" is testified to by Dean's rage at Cupid and the notion of his parents being a big project for the cherub order.  One of the shortest scenes in the episode, this was arguably the most anguished. Comfort not even at the bottom of a bottle, Dean turns heavenward while the Impala stands stalwart at his side. For a moment, I thought Dean was going to do the unthinkable and utter that innocuous three letter word that would surrender his corporeal form to Michael. What actually came out was more crushing than a yes would have been though.  Tearful, pungent agony dripped from Dean's plea, verification that he is anything but dead inside.  
Five Weeks
Wow. In a very short period of time, we've had three emotionally charged episodes and now, emotionally spent, we're left to wait five long weeks to see if someone answers Dean's call for help. Sorry Olympics but even if you are in my own country, you're not going to tide me over. I hope everyone's Hellatus Survival Kit has been restocked!

Comments  

Randal
# Randal 2010-02-14 05:51
I'm wondering if people are taking the 'dead inside' bit in too literal a fashion. I think he's beyond spent, but disdain for chick-flick moments aside, who's more emotional than this guy? Dead? Hardly. Lost in a no man's land of tangible darkness? You bet.

Like I said in Robin's review (I love getting everyone's take on these episodes, keep 'em coming, all!) once Cas said that having faith is a good thing. Not that we'll necessarily see him sooner rather than later, but I have to think that numero uno was listening at the end. That wasn't lip service, that was 200% I Really Need Help.

All three are fantastic at playing that angel-out-of-wa ter dynamic which would be so easy to turn into heavy-handed cheap thrills. It feels natural. Now we just have to wait for a freaking month for the stretch run. Ugh.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-14 14:01
Elle,
It’s interesting that you touch on the Tell-Tale-Heart , as the character of Sam has often reminded me of one straight from a Poe-poem which, in fact, has inspired me in more ways than one and made him my muse.

Dean is not dead of course, all the pain there screams life –devastated, broken, hopeless. I believe he is somewhat dying by now, as all the efforts he put up to do what is right, are being thwarted by celestial powers. It’s funny, I just sent Alice an essay on that matter, because those words Famine threw in his face wouldn’t leave me alone.

I don’t think Dean can take much more. For almost five seasons now (well, five Winchester years) he fought and fought and could not save the ones he loved. The enemy seems to be one step ahead, and Dean’s hope was about to falter sooner or later. Come on, who can actually take what he had to digest over the past years? In this state, if he doesn’t find hope again or help in whatever way, he will say yes.
Everyone expects him to be he hero we’ve encountered, even he himself does, but those expectations are too high to meet right now. Look at him. There is hardly any defiance left. The pain he must be in right now seems to be all consuming. And who could be surprised? He is human, after all, in the best sense. And as such – I do hope – he will find hope again. Or, if the writers decide so, he will become a part of the celebrity death match in the end.

Great review, Elle, heartfelt and moving, thanks. I’m with you – Hiatus Survival Kit restocked.
Love Jas
Karen
# Karen 2010-02-14 22:09
Hi Elle

Loved the review...and yes I'm working on my Hiatus Survival Kit.

And in walks Doom and Gloom.
Definately Ben Edlund at his best...and talk about gross.

I don't know how much more these two can endure.
Once again my heart aches for both of them.
Will they ever get a break.

I think what bothered me most was the fact that Sammy still has the blood addiction.
How much blood would it of taken before Sam was totally dependent on the blood.
How much blood would it of taken for Sam to YES to anything or anyone just to feed his addiction.
Was Famine testing Sammy...danglin g the carrot....see how far he would go.
Is this how Lucifer got Sammy to say yes in 'The End'.

I'm starting to get scared for our boys.
Call me old fashion, but I want a happy ending.