The Monster From the Black Alley
â€˜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?â€™
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 â€“ making it hard to breathe, my heart beating with such a fury that I imagine I can actually hear it. Okay â€“ 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 sheâ€™s home. Talking brings me down. The turmoil in my soul ceases a bit, becoming bearable. This-is-only-a-tv-showâ€¦. This-is-only-a-tv-showâ€¦. Doesnâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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 shouldnâ€™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 â€“ 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 donâ€™t have access to Grandpa Campbellâ€™s journal.
From the promos I expected a mix of comedy and tragedy, but wasnâ€™t prepared for the extent of tragedy I was thrown into. Not yet, of course. First weâ€™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 IDâ€¦ But sheâ€™s not here for a drink. Well, not the kind you get at the bar. She meets a vampire, doesnâ€™t know (as well as we donâ€™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.
Itâ€™s already a side blow to the Twilight series (a tad too long for those viewers unfamiliar with that franchise, Iâ€™d say, as they are missing out on the pastiche), and they use lines from the movies throughout the opening scenes (anyone whoâ€™s seen the films will notice how Roberts catches her red mobile (instead of the red apple in the first movie), the â€˜paper cutâ€™ and â€˜are you scaredâ€¦ you should beâ€™ and the wooden dialogue lines). Though Iâ€™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 thatâ€™s just me), I always thought that the books were not exactly well written, Iâ€™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 donâ€™t like the female lead of the films who has only about three expressions at her disposal to communicate her emotionsâ€¦ Iâ€™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 donâ€™t suffer any predicament. The classic difficulties to their lives, like sunlight, garlic, holy water, crucifixes, mirrors, etc. donâ€™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 disappearâ€¦ Velvet? Of course.
â€˜All you have to do is write bad poetry.â€™
She isnâ€™t the first one, we learn. There has been a string of disappearances of cute teenage girls. Yes, sounds like a case for the Winchester corporation which will delay Deanâ€™s coming home to Lisa for a while. And itâ€™s not drugs that causes the girls to vanish, â€˜itâ€™s so much worse.â€™ But â€“ also a kind of addiction. At this point it might be challenging to say which is worseâ€¦ weed or vampâ€¦
â€˜This is a national best seller! Howâ€™s that possible?!â€™ I just love this scene. The dÃ©cor of Kristenâ€™s room, the references to Twilight and Vampire Diaries, candelabra in the form of skulls, â€¦a screaming computer when you type in the wrong password. Fantastic! And â€“ Sam and Dean, you are so exposed! Dean knows Lautner, and Sam even knows what character heâ€™s playing. Come on, admit it â€“ you have watched the films, also. For research reasons only, of course. Sam, The Black Rose is not that strangeâ€¦ you obviously stayed in The Night Owl Hotel yourself, eh?
Actually, the vampires of this town are not exactly the brainy ones, are they? Their Alpha doesnâ€™t protect them as he should. Robbing a blood bank delivery? Leaving the driver dead in the street? Come on. If I was a vampire, Iâ€™d own a blood bank (and an undertakerâ€™s for practical reasons) to keep a low profile.
Following Samuelâ€™s advice our Winchesters find themselves in the bar, looking for the potential vampires responsible. Dean, though, is hit by a melancholy thought of memory â€˜When was the last time we had a beer together, anyway?â€™ but Sam doesnâ€™t pay attention to what he says. His eyes and mind are fixed on his mission â€“ finding vampires. And since the vampires here are looking for pretty faces to attract horny teenage girls Sam and Dean are just the right choices â€“ one brooding and at present somewhat menacing, the other forlornly beautiful. Perfect vamp material.
One (the real one) of them leads Sam down to a storage room. Alas, Sam is too well trained. He decapitates the attacker in a heartbeat, not even flinching. Dean follows a wannabe to an alley â€“ to a wonderfully funny and sweet scene: â€˜You wearing glitter?â€™ â€“ â€˜Iâ€™m only doing it to get laid, man!â€™ â€“ â€˜Does it work?â€™ â€“ boy nods â€“ â€˜Iâ€™ll be damned.â€™ Hilarious! And sad â€“ is that boy so lonely and desperate that he has to play this role to get a chance to meet a girl? Has no girl ever loved him the way he is, with his own teeth, no make-up and no dog collar, just his plain self?
No wonder, the vampire stories of today have so many followers. People today, especially teenagers, are very much lost in a world that demands a lot of them. There are new commandments today that rule Western societies: Be happy!, Use your time to an optimum!, Think positive!, Be successful!, Manage your body!, Be the best!, Market yourself!, Never wilt!, Stay young!
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 â€˜perfectâ€™. Diving into a fantasy world of the glorious undead, all the blemishes you might have, disappear. You become a stunning, desirable, flawless beauty or a strong, handsome, impeccable guy. Itâ€™s the classic avoidance schema. You donâ€™t have to face your â€˜faultsâ€™ (if you like to call them that), but imagine to be someone, something else. However, itâ€™s a fragile position. The moment that ivory tower of evasion crumbles, you are left with your â€˜pitiable, lackingâ€™ self. And the character you modelled your ideal on doesnâ€™t hold a strategy how to overcome the inevitable despair and fear. Itâ€™s not the most recommendable role model.
â€˜Youâ€™re prettyâ€™ â€“ â€˜Sorry, again, pal. I donâ€™t play for your team.â€™
Dean, my dear, you donâ€™t know it yet, but in a moment you will play for his team. The elder Winchester is caught off guard, still a bit rusty, and getting beaten up by the curly vamp. Ah â€“ all is well: Sam is already rushing to his brotherâ€™s rescueâ€¦ Is he?
There is so much happening in his face within a few seconds â€“ worry, decisiveness, fascination, schemingâ€¦ and pretending to save Dean. Itâ€™s the same interest Sam displayed when Castiel tortured that boy in an earlier episode. And that smug, self-righteous smile. Sammy, I love you. But at this point you deserve a damn good thrashing.
I canâ€™t believe my eyes. I just canâ€™t. What is happening to my favourite character here? The creators of Supernatural do their very best to twist that knife in my flesh. This Sam makes it hard to love him. And I bet Jared is having the time of his life portraying the character, playing against type which he does wonderfully.
I still believe that Sam is suffering from an extreme form of PTSD with a coping strategy you might call emotional detachment. When a person experiences terrible horrors over a long period of time, their personality can change, as I have written about in earlier articles. So â€“ what happened to Sam in hell? In Luciferâ€™s cage?
Plus: we have been told that to ingest the amount of blood Sam needed to keep Lucifer contained would change him forever. I am inclined to believe that the significant changes in Samâ€™s nature and demeanour stem from those gallons of blood he had to consume. All that demon blood must have left some imprint of sorts, perhaps some boost of power or increase of strength? He appears, after all, much like an Alpha hunter himself right now.
I know, from my professional point of view, that a character change so significant is possible after a horrific ordeal. The psyche takes over, in order to protect the soul from noticing the damage there. I assume that many of you probably are not familiar with the phenomenon of posttraumatic stress disorder. Slowly, there is a rising awareness of it among people not working in the mental health field, but still many probably canâ€™t imagine that such a shift of character might be possible.
I donâ€™t want this article to become another lecture on PTSD, as I have described it thoroughly in other articles (feel free to check them out on my writerâ€™s page), but let me assure you that such a substantial change is possible. Iâ€™ve seen it countless times in my field of work. Iâ€™ve seen people react in ways no one would have believed logical.
My thought is still that Sam must have endured indescribable horrors in hell. Different from those Dean encountered. Enough to change his nature so significantly. Itâ€™s the biggest hope I have (since then there actually might be helpâ€¦ get thee hither, Sam. I think I could make some time for you) because I need a good explanation for why Sam is behaving in this insufferable manner. I need an answer that is psychologically believable and true to the character. And, yes, I need it soon.
Trauma, at its core, is the ultimate loss of control over a situation, be it an accident, abuse, torture, etc.. One important part of coping is creating a neighbourhood of security and control. People then very often cling to aspects of their lives where they will find the impression (at least) of being in control. Sam, I believe, does that, too: in keeping himself in shape, in staying focused to an almost scientific approach that is willing to sacrifice others for experimental reasons, and simply in hunting he creates a life he presumes heâ€™ll be capable of controlling.
So, infiltrating a vampire nest with a hunter-become-vampire might just appear as the best and most cunning plan of allâ€¦
But I also believe there is more to the story than traumatic experiences in hell â€“ did Sam strike a deal in hell? Is someone blackmailing Sam to get to the Alphas (hello bad ass angels?) or elseâ€¦? Is Sam imprisoned somewhere and there is an impostor in this handsome skin? Is he paying the price of having been ridden by an angel? We know that people who have been hosts for angels donâ€™t end up in the best state imaginable. Having the devil in you â€¦ what does that make of you? Something like this? I shy away from speculation in regard to this show and need to halt my trains of thought. I have been wrong so many times before, since the writers seem to always manage to prove me wrong. Yet, I hope for a solution that will bring back some of the Sam I have loved from the very beginning.
He crushes me. He scares me. He makes it hard for me to love him. And most of all he leaves me worried out of my witsâ€¦
â€˜Samuel is gonna kill me when he gets here. â€¦ Yes he is, â€˜cause Iâ€™m gonna ask him to because you wonâ€™t do it!â€™
â€˜Sammy?â€™ The look on Deanâ€™s face is just as painful â€“ he realises, slowly, what happened, I believe. His eyes speak of resignation. Of defeat. Because he knows what it means for him to have swallowed vampire blood â€“ he needs to die. Plain and simple. There is no fear in his face, not at this moment, but something utterly deserted.
His transformation to a vampire is remarkably done here, in a dense, compact atmosphere to thick you could easily slice it up â€“ even the slightest noise annoys him, he can hardly stand the light. The security of carrying a death sentence is growing on him. But Sam keeps assuring him, keeping calm â€“ because he knows (and Iâ€™m quite sure of this) that there is a cure and that Dean wonâ€™t die or have to be killed. I also believe that Sam is certain that Dean will be capable of restraining himself from taking a sip of human blood that would complete the transformation. However, experiencing the moment a human being is transformed to a vampire through Deanâ€™s eyes is utterly terrifying. Itâ€™s not glorious like in those novels todayâ€™s kids love to devour. Itâ€™s painful, disturbing, like a paranormal migraine no meds can cure.
But Sam is curious. His inquisitive mind wants to know how it feels to become. This is another strange nuance of Samâ€™s demeanour. He appears to not be interested in Deanâ€™s emotional state but his physical. He seems to know more than we do. But Deanâ€™s attention is set on saying good-bye to Lisa before itâ€™s too late, that is: before he gets into such a condition of undead mind that he actually might hurt her.
And a few moments later he stands in her bedroom not unlike the book cover he mocked earlier. Heâ€™s trying to explain but fails miserably, sounding too much like Pattinson which might freak him out in addition to the whole matter. He only manages to puzzle and scare Lisa. And I donâ€™t blame the woman. The man you love turns out in your bedroom, confused, menacing and, well, sexy as hell (forgive this shallow remark), behaving in a way that actually makes you feel in danger. He is dangerous. His announcement of his looming death is devastating to her.
At this point I believe that Lisa will leave Dean eventually. Or Dean will break up with Lisa. I canâ€™t imagine them having a future in this world. And this leaves me sad. I like Lisa. Sheâ€™s the kind of woman that could actually make this relationship work. But show me the (mentally sane) mother who will allow her child to be threatened and not do anything about it?
We will have to leave that to the writers, of course, but I fear Lisa will have to go. I would like the storyline of her leaving him or vice versa better than having her killed off and become a part of the Supernatural tradition of female characters not surviving the Winchesters.
Samuel turns out to be here to save Dean, given the chance. I am still recovering from Deanâ€™s resigned â€˜okay, do it.â€™ This is just as unbearable as Samâ€™s attitude. And round and round this show twists my gutsâ€¦.
Oh, Dean, so desperately brave. He will go and look for his sire in the nest and get the blood needed for the turn-back potion. Itâ€™s not a fun walk, but the only way. Heâ€™s probably scared to hell but still in need of doing this. Who else could.
He can smell the nest. Yes! Heightened vampire senses. It wouldnâ€™t be bad to have a vampire on their team, would it? Hunting could be a lot easier with someone playing Lassie. I havenâ€™t much time to dwell on Deanâ€™s courage as the following scene between Sam and his grandfather sinks another blade in.
Samâ€™s reaction as Samuel claims that he knew about the cure and risked his own brother smells of the cat being caught with the bird in its mouth. He gives right back, his defence an insult to Samuel (who actually cares about his grandson and carries the torch of family in this episode) and then he leaves, avoiding eye contact. Not the kind of behaviour Iâ€™d expect from an â€˜innocentâ€™ person. Watching him in this scene you notice again how clear of empathy Sam is. Not even his protest carries any emotional colour.
Given that Samuel spent a huge part of the past year with Sam and being a good and experienced hunter, grandpa trust his instincts. He feels that something is way off with his grandson. Plus: he remembers talking to Sam about the cure. And Samuel believes Sam to be capable of risking his own brotherâ€™s life to get â€˜a man on the insideâ€™ and to the Alpha, since Samuel has had the chance to observe the young one closely during their time together. What is it he has seen so far? I donâ€™t think the Campbells are the kind of people that would trust others without having a good look behind the faÃ§ade first.
Oh, Deanâ€¦ heâ€™s the perfect vampire. Why? Because he is completely at the outside now. He might find a home with the nest, were he to change his mind, but else he doesnâ€™t belong anywhere anymore. He canâ€™t go back to Lisa who has provided warmth and safety of soul for him. He canâ€™t really return to the Campbells or Sam since he isnâ€™t human anymore and in constant danger of attacking one of them sooner or later or be killed himself. He has no home anymore.
The vampire as an archetype is probably one of the strongest ones from the imagination of the nineteenth century, standing for various themes such as isolation, repressed or open sexuality, the lure of the antichrist, perhaps irredeemable, but compassionate, and, of course, alienation, racial prejudice, consumers and consumed, the loss of faith and â€“ as a result the loss of humanity.
Dean desperately tries to hold on to his humanity, withstanding the urge for blood to the best of his abilities, while Sam has already given in for a greater cause: consuming gallons of blood to gain victory over Lucifer in Swan Song. At the time Sam didnâ€™t do it because he was hungry for blood. He did it out of hunger for doing the right thing and saving the world. It was a power issue, eventually. Being the one to prevail, to prove to his brother, his family that he was worth their trust. Need for acknowledgement and redemption. (I canâ€™t help but wonder: is there a part of Sam experiencing some kind of satisfaction over Deanâ€™s taste of blood?)
Just as a demon blood consuming Sam vampires penetrate frontiers between life and death, good and evil, heaven and hell. The natural boundaries there dissolved and renewed with Samâ€™s sacrifice. Itâ€™s probably a very fitting manner to expose his current, morally debatable attitude in a confrontation with vampires.
'These are the best days in the last 600 years to be a vampire.â€™
These vampires here embrace ferocity and bloodlust channelling those into their gang-like essence. Their nest in fact is a pack, led by an alpha wolf who is only an adjutant to the real Alpha who is in need of pretty recruits like Dean to fit the current vampire ideal â€“ the brooding, beautiful, seductive teenage wet dream.
Here, Dean is offered a place to stay, the kind of home he would need were he to remain a vampire. Well, beasts of all kinds care for their own. The company line might be to not kill people anymore, but Dean instantly becomes Roberts hero with his intuitive lie of having drunk â€˜so many peopleâ€™ on his way to the nest. â€˜You gotta tell me what thatâ€™s likeâ€™
Have I mentioned how much I am in awe watching Jensen perform here? Well, I am. Heâ€™s tragic. Heâ€™s lonely. Heâ€™s greedy. Heâ€™s terrified. All there in one controlled face. Heâ€™s giving Dean the kind of determined desperation you would expect him to ooze at a point like this, doing his best to manipulate the six hundred years old vamp Boris. Who, by the way, is just another arrogant, misogynistic dandy. The girls are kept in cages â€˜till theyâ€™re compliantâ€™? Iâ€™m gonna do a happy dance when Dean plays ball with your slimy head. ..
I wish Dean was more careful. But heâ€™s doing what he can. That one drop escaping his attention almost seals his fate. But some strange whispering voice (reminding me of the secret voice of Sauron) we donâ€™t understand stops Boris from crushing Dean. All the vamps drop to the ground, eventually Dean, having one of the creepiest dreams Iâ€™ve seen in a long time. First night after watching that episode, those twin vampire girls haunted me in my sleep.
We are given pictures but no answers. Who is the dark, long-fingernailed man? An angel? A friend of Luciferâ€™s? Are Alpha vampires born and not sired? Did all the unconscious vampires have the same dream â€“ that was in fact an instruction where to go: cover the region surrounding Chicago? Create new vampires as they go? Create an army of the undead?
Ah, bless you, Dean. However â€“ how did you best a vampire who had six centuries in his bag? Has Boris done nothing but chew gum during all this time? I doubt it. A vampire to survive that long must have acquired various skills and was most probably an excellent fighter. Well, this whole thing â€˜is bigger than you and meâ€™. The only reason why Dean survived, to my mind, because the Alpha (or whoever spoke to the vampires in that angelic, Sauronesque manner) wanted him to survive.
â€˜Looks like your brother has some Campbell in him, after all.â€™
Dean is breaking my heart here. And yet I canâ€™t take my eyes off of him. His tired, almost resigned form down there in that hall, foot resting on Borisâ€™ headâ€¦ in all probability crazy with hunger and not taking a sip from those plastic bags surrounding him. Brave lost boy.
As Samuel is preparing the cure Sam is there, eager, methodical, and all he is interested in is what Dean did see. He doesnâ€™t ask how he, Dean, feels, he is focused on another task â€“ finding the Alpha. Iâ€™m grateful that Dean shuts him up, because I donâ€™t know how I would bear any more of that bleakness, devoid of the emotional support he used to offer to Dean whenever necessary.
â€˜Lâ€™chaimâ€™, to life, he says, cringingly, and swallows the potion Samuel mixed for him. Oh, yes, he will live. But after turning back with vomiting black goo and the vampire in him dying a agonizing death he might have wished, for just a moment, to have died earlier. This looks horrific. And the vision of his last minutes before being turned burns in his memory (and ends in about the closest close up ever, much like that one on Janet Leigh in Hitchcockâ€™s Psycho). He knows that Sam stood there and did nothing while Boris was feeding him his vampire blood. After watching that scene over and over I finally saw an instant where it actually might have been possible for Dean to actually catch a glimpse at Sam, through lidded eyes and half conscious. And those images were stored in his unconscious, to be triggered in a moment of sheer agony.
As Dean returns from the bath room, cleaned up and somewhat his former self, Sam greets him with a tight hug and â€˜Hey, Dean, how do you feel?!â€™ â€¦ oh, yes, I forgot. This is the new Supernatural. All Sam wants to know is what Dean saw in the nest, his air all strategic excitement for good vampire intelligenceâ€¦ the Sam I encountered over the last seasons would have rushed to his brother, expressing relief and concern.
Instead, what we get is someone closely resembling a lying cad. His â€˜Iâ€™m sorryâ€™ and â€˜of course, Deanâ€™ are stereotypical, clichÃ©d phrases devoid of the emotion that would usually accompany them and make them genuine.
I love Sammy. I always have. But this Sam is giving me a hard time loving him. Iâ€™m trying to imagine how I would react to a guy I love like that in real life, if I experienced similar moments of being let down or deceived. My natural reaction usually is to listen to the otherâ€™s explanation. To listen whether I find any truth there, since loving someone means to embrace his dark side, too. At least to me it does. And, well, Iâ€™d most likely give him one good slap.
But slowly Iâ€™m reaching a point where it becomes too hard to bear this development, although I am so very proud of Jaredâ€™s marvellous acting skills. Again, he shows a lot of courage by treading this path which is tough for an actor to dismantle a well-loved character in this manner.
I donâ€™t want to lose faith in Sam, but Iâ€™m going to need a good explanation. And soon. Because this emotional turmoil Iâ€™m getting thrown into since the first episode of this season is messing me up. This show entered my soul in a way I had never expected and I didnâ€™t protect myself well enough. Watching the writers pile even more agony, guilt and torment on the protagonistsâ€™ shoulders is more than I want to ingest every week. It might be only a tv show, but it does something to me.
I still live in hope that we will be given a satisfying answer. Soon.
By all means weâ€™re given an astounding episode that keeps the minds of its audience reeling, with fascinating cinematography and nuanced lighting. A story that depleted and finished me to a point I was hardly able to breathe. That alone is amazing for a show that has never ceased to amaze me for more than five years now. And the acting here canâ€™t be commended highly enough. I am stunned, really.
Iâ€™m left in about the same state of confusion as Dean is. Noticing the changes in Sam, trying to make sense of them, being utterly shocked and betrayed and somewhat disheartened at finding what he is capable of.
Iâ€™m chewing on essential questions that shake the foundations of our show. For five seasons now it was built on the importance of family and the power of the unconquerable love of the brothers. â€˜In the end they chose familyâ€™ was one of the closing messages of Swan Song.
There are elements of it here, but the core of Supernatural, the caring relationship of the Winchester brothers, has suffered serious harm to an extent of almost becoming unbearable.
I do hope that Luciferâ€™s words in The End that no matter what they did they would always end up at each otherâ€™sâ€™ throats with Lucifer as the victor will not hold true in the twisted version of a break-up of the brothersâ€™ deep bond.
Personally, I will try to calm my mind and wait for the next episode before losing heart, as I trust there will be some answers there. Well, I need them. I suppose we all do.
â€˜It is those we live with and love and should know who elude usâ€™
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.
Not a whole lot to add since Iâ€™ve vented elsewhere and youâ€™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 didnâ€™t. He justâ€¦arg!
Deanâ€™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 whoâ€™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 Jâ€™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, Iâ€™m still evolving more toward Samgirl than away. Yes, Iâ€™m angry/sad/confu sed/grieving/fu rious/screaming â€œWHY?!â€; butâ€¦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 itâ€™s just because I am so, so sure that this isnâ€™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, Deanâ€™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 Iâ€™ll love and wait for faithfully.
Cannot believe how this episode gets me going! Well done show, well done.
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
(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 â€˜perfectâ€™. 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.
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.
After this episode and whatâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 itâ€™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. Iâ€™m a viewer and itâ€™s up to me to either stay on this ride or get off.
And since Iâ€™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 weâ€™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 whatâ€™s up with Sam?
Iâ€™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 heâ€™s all over the place. Heâ€™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 Deanâ€™s fatherly instincts and with Benâ€™s Wendigo mask. He did look legitimately worried/scared when Castiel informed he didnâ€™t know who brought him back and confirmed Raphaelâ€™s plans on initiating the apocalypse again.
Iâ€™m starting to believe itâ€™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.
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 Â£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.
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.
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!
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 ...
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...
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!
Leslie, I can imagine and relate closely to the reeling of a SamGirlâ€¦ And it goes on and onâ€¦
AndreaW, donâ€™t worry. Losing sleep over this show doesnâ€™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 itâ€™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, itâ€™s been mostly Lisa who invested a lot in this relationship â€“ moving house at Deanâ€™s request, taking him in despite all the issues she knew he was carrying, finding excuses for his erratic behaviour. Perhaps Dean just doesnâ€™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 â€˜long ramblingâ€™ necessary, dear! All this â€˜itâ€™s only a tv showâ€™ is not helping anymore. I canâ€™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 Samâ€™s issues are a combo of PTSD, Soul issues, etc. The answer probably is never simple.
Julie, I donâ€™t think they care about the sleepless nights they cause. They are, indeed, some kind of monstersâ€¦. And they probably count on our attachment and pride of these fictional characters. Weâ€™re like flies glued to their spiderâ€™s web.
Ramble away, dear, thatâ€™s what this couch is here for! I agree that we will get several episodes that will slowly unravel Samâ€™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 canâ€¦ I think itâ€™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 showâ€¦
Suze, I guess the Rubicon is indeed passed â€“ 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 couldnâ€™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 depictedâ€¦ I hope by now you will have found some peace in your sleep. But â€“ I reckon, it will get much worseâ€¦ Anyway, this couch will be open day and night.
Lara, I want my Sam back, too! I canâ€™t put it more eloquently at this momentâ€¦ I miss the sweet, compassionate, loving, caring Samâ€¦
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