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Open Couch to Live Free or Twihard

Or

The Monster From the Black Alley


‘The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?’
(Alexander Solzhenitsyn)

 
My fingernails buried in the arm of my couch, a strange heat expanding in my body, coming from my chest and flaming down to my toes – making it hard to breathe, my heart beating with such a fury that I imagine I can actually hear it. Okay – note to self: this is a tv show. Nothing else. Calm down.

First impulse, as so often when I feel overwhelmed by a situation, is to ring a friend close to my heart, and luckily she’s home. Talking brings me down. The turmoil in my soul ceases a bit, becoming bearable. This-is-only-a-tv-show…. This-is-only-a-tv-show…. Doesn’t matter really. What this tv show does to my emotions is very real. And not for the first time I wonder: do I invest too much passion in this damn show? I probably do. And despite episodes like this one (and many before) I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

I leave it be, take out a book that has nothing in common with Supernatural, to remind me of the life I have apart from this show and that I shouldn’t let it get to me the way it does. Not easy. How many of you, kind readers, have felt something like this after watching an episode that left you breathless? But – I have fallen in love with these characters and therefore it hurts even more to see them like this. I reckon some of you feel like this. I have no cure. Then again, I don’t have access to Grandpa Campbell’s journal.

From the promos I expected a mix of comedy and tragedy, but wasn’t prepared for the extent of tragedy I was thrown into. Not yet, of course. First we’re led into a bar where Goths and others mingle and Emily Fang (yeah, right), who looks like a blend of Stephanie Meyer and Kristen Stewart, shows the bartender her ID… But she’s not here for a drink. Well, not the kind you get at the bar. She meets a vampire, doesn’t know (as well as we don’t) that he is a real one and not the kind of pathetic wannabe modelling himself after the most popular vampire in recent film history, Edward Cullen.

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It’s already a side blow to the Twilight series (a tad too long for those viewers unfamiliar with that franchise, I’d say, as they are missing out on the pastiche), and they use lines from the movies throughout the opening scenes (anyone who’s seen the films will notice how Roberts catches her red mobile (instead of the red apple in the first movie), the ‘paper cut’ and ‘are you scared… you should be’ and the wooden dialogue lines). Though I’ve read the Twilight novels and watched the films, actually enjoying them to some extent when dwelling in some kind of teenage romantic mood (and I do like the Vampire Diaries, though True Blood is my favourite at the moment, because those vampires embody more of their nature than Twilight does, but that’s just me), I always thought that the books were not exactly well written, I’d like to find an author with the ability to describe the inner states of her characters with more than just a few adjectives, and I don’t like the female lead of the films who has only about three expressions at her disposal to communicate her emotions… I’m mean, I know. But I have standards when it comes to acting I like to see lived up. And it may well be that my witchy side is triggered by the emotional turmoil of this episode. 

Plus: the vampires of that series practically don’t suffer any predicament. The classic difficulties to their lives, like sunlight, garlic, holy water, crucifixes, mirrors, etc. don’t exist. They are a more perfect version of a human being. Of course, hoards of teenage girls want to be like that. And, in this scenario of our favourite tv show they are the easiest prey. Where hormones rage there is no room for common sense, eh? Robert (nice one!) leads Kristen aka Emily to a place smelling like pee where she is to disappear…  Velvet? Of course. 
 

Comments  

elle2
# elle2 2010-10-27 15:08
Excellently done, Jas,

So glad you used your Open Couch to 'heal thyself' a bit as well.

I think we're due soon for a loosening of the secrets of Sam's mannerisms and I'm looking forward to the full reveal as it comes (which I suspect will be over several episodes but that's all right. As long as I get some bread crumbs I'll stay on the trail.)

This episode is growing on me although I haven't watched it again. I suspect that once it can be placed in the proper context of Sam's story as well as Samuel's and whatever else is going on it will rise considerably. Now, however, I am dearly looking forward to the Sam beat down by Dean...if for nothing else than to open up Sam's inner self and get some explaining going!

Thanks for making room for the couch this week.
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-10-27 15:49
Yay??! The Couch! Been looking forward to this and you do not disappoint. Still unsettled over this episode and it was my hope you’d write an Open Couch since I was certain it would assist in calming my disquiet. So double and triple thanks for putting so much time and thought into this. I know you are busy, and that you wrote this anyway is a direct reflection on your awesomeness.

Not a whole lot to add since I’ve vented elsewhere and you’ve said things rather nicely. Still at a complete loss as to what to believe about Sam. I appreciate your further insights into PTSD, but am relieved to find you also think something more should be going on. If that, that thing who looks like Sam really is only and just Sam, then one would imagine that he would have rushed to save Dean out of pure, ingrained and trained habit. PTSD Sam on autopilot. But he didn’t. He just…arg!

Dean’s killing of Boris, wish that fight had been shown, though I love the reveal. Amazing. It may be surprising Dean won, but Boris seemed like a guy devoted to self-indulgence and pleasure. (still shivering *ew* over his pass at Dean) He may have been 600 years old, but who’s to say that those 6 centuries were spent fighting other vampires? Sure, maybe one or two, but his size and eventual age could have won him the name of alpha. The only fights he may have really had were against people, to include hunters, but still people. Cut to a fight against a young, hungry (therefore on edge) hunter/vampire who has spent 90% of his life in combat, 40 years in hell, and has one intensely focused drive. Bye bye Boris!

Ditto on all the compliments to the J’s acting. And Ditto to all the heartrending. Big Ditto on Sam needing a slap! If it is Sam, fully Sam or whatthehellever he is.

Strangely, I’m still evolving more toward Samgirl than away. Yes, I’m angry/sad/confu sed/grieving/fu rious/screaming “WHY?!”; but…well, just but. I went through my mad-at-Sammy stage in Season 4, but eventually came to understand and forgive and love him again. Maybe it’s just because I am so, so sure that this isn’t really Sam in some way, shape or form. I mean, yes, it is him (99% sure) but also not him. And I have faith, that when our Sammy, Dean’s Sammy, comes back to us, all this will haunt him in ways that will rip at his soul. (Yes, it is a tv show.) I cannot love him as he is, but I will love him for who he was and who he will be in the future. He is frightening, cold, terrifying, distant, creepy, menacing, bloodcurdling, chilling and oh so very beautiful. Somewhere there is a lost Sammy, weeping for his brother. Him I’ll love and wait for faithfully.

Cannot believe how this episode gets me going! Well done show, well done.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-10-27 17:41
Elle2 and Yvonne, hey girls, you're fast with your comments, wow!

Elle2, well, I'm selfish that way,writing for 'the couch' is always helpful to me, too, apart from being fun. This was not exactly funny, as the episode still keeps twisting me round. I love it, but I also dread it.

I agree with your thought that Sam's 'secret' will probably be revealed over a few episodes. That's okay with me, as well, but I need at least something soon to hold on to...

Yvonne, dear Sam girl in the making ;-), so (too) much praise, dear... True, I would have also loved to see the fight of Dean and Boris. How does a guy of six centuries fight? How did Dean outsmart him? He guillotined him good.

let's hold on till we find out why Sam became who he is right now. Love how you describe him here. There are so many facets to that man. I also hope to find some of the Sammy I have loved from season one.

ohooooooooo... Sammy... kitty kitty kitty.... come out come out... kitty kitty kitty...

I'm sleepy, so I get silly...

Thank you so much for commenting! Love, Jas
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-10-27 20:29
I feel so much better. I thought the only person crazy enough to lose sleep on a TV show was ME. Thank you for this online therapy. ;-)
CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2010-10-27 22:12
Thank you, Jas - I enjoyed reading this :

(a) "Being yourself is not exactly an option if you are young and believing all kinds of magazines and books wanting to teach you how to be ‘perfect’. Diving into a fantasy world of the glorious undead, all the blemishes you might have, disappear." I like your insight on the pressures youths (and probably even some older individuals) face in trying to be "perfect".

(b)I also liked your analysis of how Sam's reaction to Dean turning into a vampire. Sam can't seem to fathom what Dean is feeling, emotionally.

It might have been Sam's plan to have Dean turned into a vampire (when the opportunity presented itself, and when Sam knew that there was a cure).

But Sam clearly did not anticipate that since Dean thought he was going to die (Dean didn't know about the cure until Samuel came), Dean would "sneak" out to say goodbye to Lisa. Sam didn't anticipate this (Dean leaving to say goodbye to Lisa) because he clearly didn't get what Dean was going through emotionally.

(c) "But show me the (mentally sane) mother who will allow her child to be threatened and not do anything about it?" I liked (and still like) Lisa, and I do hope that Dean does reach a resolution with her and Ben. But you are right, things do look grim for their relationship at this time.

*****

It is a big risk protraying Sam in this light for this Season. I imagine that it can backfire if not properly handled, particularly since many fans of Supernatural (me included) would like to see the brothers back together again soon, sharing the brotherly bond we come to expect.

And it doesn't help that so far it appears that no one - not Dean, Samuel, Castiel or perhaps even Sam himself -seems knows what is wrong with Sam.

The line between keeping fans intrigued and frustrating your fans isn't always clear - nor an easy one to toe.

While a story line like this involving Sam (one of the principal characters in the show) undergoing a complete character transformation can be gloriously rewarding and entertaining, there are also many ways the story line can go wrong (e.g. suspense dragged out too long, resolution of conflict not satisfying etc)

I believe Alice pointed out that this Season's Supernatural is definitely not on auto pilot - it is definitely breaking new ground, and taking risks to do so. But from what we have seen so far (the first 5 episodes have been, in the main, largely enjoyable), I think we can have confidence that this Season may well be the best yet.

And yes, as depressing it was to watch this episode (for me anyway), I have to agree that it was a stunning one in many ways. :-)
brotherlylove
# brotherlylove 2010-10-28 08:05
I didn't particularly like the episode. I was bored at times, especially the first seven minutes but I felt it served its purpose in creating more doubt and questions in our minds (and Dean's) about Sam, Samuel and the alpha's.

I agree the Lisa/Ben storyline looks to be at its natural end, which I couldn't be happier about. I think there are much bigger, important and interesting issues to be dealt with this season and the Braedens don't really fit in with the actual supernatural story or the brothers story any more really. They were only ever really a stop gap for Dean while he didn't have his brother and while he couldn't connect to him as has been the case for the first 5 episodes of the season. I'm hoping we might get a break through on the Sam front this week which will ease the pain of (possibly) loosing Lisa/Ben for Dean.

I also thought it interesting that Dean knowing or at least believing that he was about to die didn't choose that moment to confess his love for Lisa but rather chose to say 'thank you'? It only furthered my belief that Dean only turns to Lisa/Ben when his relationship with/his faith in Sam is faltering?

Kudos to Jared for an outstanding performance this week, I cant get over how he manages to convey so many things in just a look or how he's managed to create this NewSam/NonSam all the while giving the barest hint that Lovable/old Sammy is still there somewhere. He doesn't get much screen time but he uses it wisely. Also have to praise the writers for doing such a great job with this mystery of Sam storyline, risky yes but so far its paying off as can be seen with the constant 'what's up with Sam?' chatter. The fandom haven't seemed so excited, nervous, riled up in quite some time. Theres a buzz about the show that has been missing for a while, so well done writers on that front.

That being said I do hope we get some answers in regards to Sam and soon, I love a god mystery but I think dragging it out would only be a mistake. It's the brotherly chemistry that has always been the pulling power for this show and it has been distinctly lacking so far this season-for obvious reasons and with intent. So far fans have enjoyed the mystery and build up and waited patiently for the return of SamAndDean but I fear fans will only hold out for so long. I've noticed there is a lot of hope pinned on this next episode 'You Cant Handle The Truth' as being the one to start the ball rolling on uncovering the Sam mystery and getting the brothers relationship back on track. I hope it doesn't disappoint.
Karen
# Karen 2010-10-28 08:27
Hi Jasminka
After this episode and what’s to come, I think your going to need a bigger couch.
My initial reaction to this episode was heartbreak, shock and disappointment.
I really thought the dividing of the brothers relationship had been put behind us from last season, but I guess Sam wasn’t the only thing to be resurrected.
I was in no way expecting Sunshine, Rainbows and Unicorns and having them Tra-la-la-ing together in the Impala. However I had expected to see the love, trust and respect of these two grown men working together as a team.

I too had to keep reminding myself it’s only a TV show and to get over it already. And to remember that this is not my story to tell, it never was. I’m a viewer and it’s up to me to either stay on this ride or get off.
And since I’m the stubborn and fiercely loyal type, I gave myself a smack in the head and have bucked myself in for the remainder of the ride.
I also have to give credit to the articles and the comments given on this site.
Seeing the enthusiasm and positive feedback really helped me through my snit.

I have since re-watched this episode and I have to say it was a good episode(except for the beginning, just alittle too drawn out). It was very dark and creepy and gave the feeling of watching an actual horror movie. And of course Jensen and Jared were fantastic. I truly love these two.

I have to agree with you about Lisa and Ben. I think we’re seeing the last of them very soon, which is sad, because I really thought they were good for Dean. However as a mother I could not risk having Dean in my life, no matter how much I loved him.

So what’s up with Sam?
I’m truly stumped. Is he possessed, an impostor, sold his soul, suffering from major PTSD, has a split personality or having Demon Blood side effects.
Or is it a combination of things?
All I know he’s all over the place. He’s cold and strategic but yet does show emotions. He was annoyed with Castiel for not contacting him. He showed panic in the grocery store when Bobby-John started crying. He was impressed Dean’s fatherly instincts and with Ben’s Wendigo mask. He did look legitimately worried/scared when Castiel informed he didn’t know who brought him back and confirmed Raphael’s plans on initiating the apocalypse again.
I’m starting to believe it’s more than just one thing. I think your right that PTSD is a major factor, but I also think there is something supernatural going on as well.
Thanks for the couch session Jas and I apologise for the long rambling.
Julie
# Julie 2010-10-28 12:03
Thank You Jas,
I know this was not an easy one to write, but as soon as it finished I also knew it would inspire an open couch article.
First how wonderful is this show ? What a testament to the team that produces it that one scene can produce such havoc and mayhem, and elicit such comments from so many relatively sane people as has happened in the last week. Also producing a desire in me to actually climb into the tv and protect, comfort and slap the characters ( no need for guessing who gets what) Do you think they realise the trauma and sleepless nights they cause? I am not like Elle 2 and some other people, when an episode especially effects me I re watch , again and again, Swan Song was another that had the same effect, I think it is some sort of effort on my part to get things straight in my head and I have watched this one A LOT!
I never bought into the Twilight thing , I bought the first 2 books ( 2 for £7 in the supermarket) and read the first chapter of the first one and thought , No. Then a little later I decided to try again, perhaps it was me, the wrong time to read/ wrong frame of mind but No, for me, I was right the first time , and my reaction to these books was exactly the same as Deans `Bestsellers?` So naturally never saw the films either , BTW the hype around Robert Pattt( how many tts ) also totally eludes me ! Even so, as you would have to live in a cave to escape all the hype and merchandising , I loved the prods and pokes at Twilight at the start of this one, it really made me laugh but I am guessing that the more familiar you were the funnier it got . On subsequent watching I do find the lead in a little long but didnt feel this on my first watch at all.
Then came THE scene totally out of the blue and I think it is the most shocking scene on the show ever , God Knows that is saying something as there has been quite a bit of competition , but I have never watched with such disbelief and sheer horror before. Strangely though afterwards it didnt freak me out as much as other people, I am sure this is because i was still clinging onto my mantra as I have from EOMS `It`s not Sam`, This got me through the fact that Dean was left for a year to go through the hell of grief when he could have been spared this, the real Sam knew what he himself suffered when Dean was ` downstairs`, surely he would not put his brother through this. Then the way Bobby John was possibly used as bait ( I think now this was the case too) The real Sam would not do that. Also the creepy fascination with which he watched as Cas tortured the kid in TTM . Who or what this is I have no idea as , as I have said, given up trying to second guess as always wrong .
Now as the big `truth ` episode gets closer I get more scared of what this one will reveal. We have seen even Dean is now sure `It`s not my brother` I hope we are right and this is not the real Sam as how do you find a way back from this betrayal if it is ?
I must add that even from my totally biased opinion, Dean was wonderful here, how ridiculous that you can be so proud of a fictional character! I just loved the fact that even as a newly converted vamp he was still Dean and did the right thing , even if the visit to Lisa was misguided, he went not only to say goodbye but thank you for briefly providing the home and family he has longed for since he was four years old , he resisted the urge to feed and the scenes taking out the nest were amazing, that final shot of him sitting with his foot on the decapitated head is destined to become an iconic image I am sure. Many times he broke my heart in this one with just a look or that simple `OK do it`. And there was another curve ball Grandpa Campbell. He totally threw me as he obviously does feel deeply for his grandsons ,still not trusting him though.
The last few minutes with the horrific cure and the final scene by the Impala made for very difficult viewing and they were almost too painful to watch .
Now we just wait for the answers to the weird dream sequence and what will be revealved in the up coming truth episode , I fear we are going to have to wait a whole lot longer before we get the full picture and I have no doubt we are also going to need this couch a lot more , glad to be able to share it with everyone and sorry this was a long ramble.
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-10-28 15:14
Jas, how glad I was to see you back with your couch. I believe that the couch is needed more in this season than in any other previous.

I can only say that the first time I viewed this, I was completely blown out of my skull by "that scene" and didn't know what went on for the rest of the show. After watching a second time I can see what a really great episode it was.

So brooding and dark and eliciting such emotional reaction in the viewer as never before. :shock:

Couldn't sleep afterwards with my incredible disappointment in the Sam character that I USED to love.
Yes. I no longer have any love in my heart for this cold emotionless simulacrum calling itself Sam. Not only did he endanger Dean's life by standing and smirking while Dean was turned, but he destroyed Dean's trust perhaps forever and mine also (if indeed that thing is really our former Sammy). Not only that, but he cold bloodedly destroyed any happiness Dean has had or would have with Lisa and Ben. How could the Sam we know, even with PTSD and the pit experience he had, ever sink so low?

I'm with Julie. I just can't believe that thing is Sam at all, but some kind of impostor. That is the only way that I can ever trust or like Sam again. That he is being held somewhere else and impersonated by whatever is walking around with his face. For a year he has worked with Gramps, who would not have noticed whether his mannerisms were Sam or not, as he had never encountered his grandson Sam before.

This is upsetting to me (yes, yes, I KNOW they are fictional characters, so what?) as all the love I previouly bestowed upon Sam and Dean now goes 100% completely to Dean, and that is such a shame.

Come back, the real Sammy! The one who loves his brother and would die for him. The one who despaired when Dean was killed every day for over 100 days and then was really gone, turning Sam into a walking automaton. The one who wept many many tears when his beloved brother was slaughtered by the hellhound and nearly went insane trying to get Dean back from hell. :sad:

Can't believe the writers would crucify this character and not have a believable solution to rectify it. If it is just another "Dean, I'm sorry" solution, I can't buy it. To trust Sam again, there has to be no part of Sam inhabiting that body.

Whatever happens, never think I won't be watching as I could never now, refuse to watch. That would be impossible for me as I am completely invested in these two brothers to ever refuse to watch.

Didn't mean to make this so long either, sorry guys! :sad:
Suze
# Suze 2010-10-28 17:54
Right, budge up you lot ... Next week had better be good, that's all. I've had it up to here with the What's-Wrong-Wi th-Sam saga. A bit of Good-Guy-Goes-B ad is fine ( I loved Evil Willow in Buffy ) but a little goes a long way. Flawed heroes are more interesting, OK ... But not that bloody flawed!

I have a nasty feeling the show's just crossed the Rubicon as far as the famous Bond Of Brothers is concerned and I'm really hoping that they find a way to re-wind tomorrow and make it all a bad dream or something instead of a bad taste in the mouth.

Sorry, here endeth this weeks rant ...
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2010-10-29 00:07
I am so glad that you & your couch are here, Jas!
I am WAY too invested in this show & these fictional characters. Not since Frodo & Sam & the Fellowship have I loved any characters so much. My feelings about this episode echo those that have already been expressed here. I have gone to bed thinking about this show, & I wake up thinking about it. I am fiercely loyal & will be there to the end, but I need some answers soon! I want our Sammy back & I want some happiness for Dean. I want to see the brotherly bond return.
That is all.
Now I really should get some sleep. If I could just get that image of Sam watching Dean being turned out of my mind...
Dawn
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-10-29 21:16
Hey Jasminka!
Loved your article, you've said it all.
Loved this episode. The opening scene was a little confusing, though. I've never watched one single vampire-tv show or movie nor read the books, so I was thinking "Huh? Is this Supernatural? The dialogue don't fit." But as soon as we learned the character's names - Kristen and Robert - I knew "Ah, parody! Awesome. This is Supernatural." Wished to have watched at least one Twilight to have enjoyed this scene more ;-) By the way, I totally agree on your "media corrupting the Being Yourself" theory. So true, so sad!
Well, this media - read: the Supernatural tv show - has been invading my life, surely. I, too, feel with the characters. I cry for Dean, and I fear for Sam. And can't wait to have the story resolved. What will happen to Dean and Lisa? I was so happy for Dean finally having a home and family, and Lisa is so awesome. What the hell is going on with Sam? I want my Sam back! I want the brotherly love back!
And aren't these guys some incredible actors, or what
:-) ?

Jas, thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!
Lara
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-01 06:52
Leslie92708, AndreaW, CitizenKane2, Dany, brotherly love, Karen, Julie, Bevie, Suze, BagginsDVM and Freebird, so sorry for responding this late to your elaborate comments. I’ve been outrageously busy.

Leslie, I can imagine and relate closely to the reeling of a SamGirl… And it goes on and on…

AndreaW, don’t worry. Losing sleep over this show doesn’t make you a freak.

CitizenKane2, thank you! I agree with your point of how risky it is to depict a character in this manner, especially a well-loved one like Sam. Also risking the whole brotherly relationship. I love the show as it is, but it’s getting emotionally a tad too taxing to stand it all. Even when they were fighting before, we always knew that they would eventually be together again. At this point, I am, sadly, not so sure.
It was a stunning episode by all means, getting the fans into a reeling mode. Well done, show.

Dany, this episode, even though there has been another one by now, is still in my head. I suffered through it. Did I mention how much I love/hate this show?

Brotherlylove, you have some very interesting points here. Perhaps Lisa is only what you described for him. From my point of view, it’s been mostly Lisa who invested a lot in this relationship – moving house at Dean’s request, taking him in despite all the issues she knew he was carrying, finding excuses for his erratic behaviour. Perhaps Dean just doesn’t deserve a woman like that. Not until he starts giving some more of his soul.

Karen, hey, my couch can be expanded. No apologies for the ‘long rambling’ necessary, dear! All this ‘it’s only a tv show’ is not helping anymore. I can’t distance myself from the emotions racing through me watching it. I have never experienced the like with any other tv show.
Even in the wake of the last episode, I still believe that Sam’s issues are a combo of PTSD, Soul issues, etc. The answer probably is never simple.

Julie, I don’t think they care about the sleepless nights they cause. They are, indeed, some kind of monsters…. And they probably count on our attachment and pride of these fictional characters. We’re like flies glued to their spider’s web.
Ramble away, dear, that’s what this couch is here for! I agree that we will get several episodes that will slowly unravel Sam’s mystery. And then some. A part of me is looking forward to the Winter hiatus, as I expect to find some peace of mind then.

Bevie, happy to be of service whenever I can… I think it’s a testament to the amazing talents of the writers and directors that this show achieves to mess up our souls to this extent. And I understand how hard it is to like this Sam.
I believe the answer is a complicated one. It never is anything else with this damn show…

Suze, I guess the Rubicon is indeed passed – after this and the last episode, I have no idea how they will get the brotherly bond on the road again. I wish they could, as I would love the show to be about two loving brothers again, not about two hating brothers. That, I think, I couldn’t bear to watch

Dawn, they are not that different from Frodo/Sam, are they? I mean in regard to the intensity in which they are depicted… I hope by now you will have found some peace in your sleep. But – I reckon, it will get much worse… Anyway, this couch will be open day and night.

Lara, I want my Sam back, too! I can’t put it more eloquently at this moment… I miss the sweet, compassionate, loving, caring Sam…

Oh, dear, thank you ever so much, dear fellows! I am deeply honoured that you felt inspired to share your thoughts and emotions with me and all the other readers here!
Kudos to you, Jas