Whew, the fan pleaser. It’s about time! 
 
If season six has done anything to me so far, it’s widened a gap that’s been steadily growing between my inner fan girl and inner TV critic.  During the winter break I was having lunch with a fellow Supernatural blogger and she asked what I thought of season six so far.  I told her that as a TV critic, I gave the season a B+.  The complexity of the production, the direction, the storytelling, this show has continued to step up it’s game in a daring way.  A comparison with season three proves that. As a fan though, my grade was a C.  Let’s face it, fans come for the brotherly bond.  That indescribable connection between these two brothers that take ordinary stories and make them extraordinary. Take that away and something is missing. 

I like many other TV critics had a chance to mull over this one for a couple of weeks after getting a special preview.  I knew the instant I saw “Like A Virgin” that this one would be a tough one to review. Part of me was thrilled with it, part of me had reservations. It wasn’t until I saw it again on Friday (in full HD glory) that I was able to figure out why the discrepancy. The inner TV critic in me thought it was an average MOTW episode. The inner fan girl was telling my inner critic to shut the hell up. The brothers are back and it’s awesome. 
 
Yes, for the fan girl, “Like A Virgin” is a breath of fresh air. Instant relief from a long dry spell of brotherly hugs and both lighted hearted and earnest banter between the two. Dean is happy again! Sam is puppy dogging it again! I didn’t realize how much I missed all that until I saw it again. If anything, it reinforces by previous criticism that while the soulless Sam story was compelling, it went on about six episodes too long. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and I felt excited enough at the end where I’m dying to see what’s next. 
 
Then the inner TV critic steps in. This type of episode has happened before. A weak MOTW story coupled with a very strong brotherly story. Season four’s “Metamorphosis” comes to mind. The story layout is very typical, and the unique slant of dragons proves to be nothing more than a device for some great pop culture references and humorous scenes. (“What’s wrong with that?” Yells inner fan girl. â€œDean was hilarious!”). If anything, it’s the unique and stunning scene shots by director Phil Sgriccia that step up this episode compared to many others.   
 
So, with the two opposing voices in my head, how do I approach this review?  By letting both sides have it out.  
 
The Opener
 
Inner Fan Girl:  Oh yeah baby!  Classic Aerosmith!  “I’m baaaaaaack!  I’m back in the saddle again!...”
 
Inner TV Critic:  A song by an “American Idol” judge?  Really?
 
Oh yes really.  If you’re going to energize a fan base, do it to a rocking and well known classic rock tune.  I personally love old Aerosmith (anything before “Pump”), and once again they can’t pick a better song than this.  Why wasn’t “Back In The Saddle” on my classic rock “must have list” for this show?  The season six so far summary (say that five times fast) is great and take note, for the alpha vampire’s comments from “Family Matters” have made the highlight reel for a reason.  
 
So, they pick up where they left off, Sam screaming his fool head off in agony, right?  No and there’s no better momentum killer than doing a weak MOTW opening first.  The thing about these openings is we’re chomping at the bit for brotherly drama, we have been for eight weeks now (still grrring over last week) and we really couldn’t give a damn about another nondescript brunette in peril.  This scene is relevant to the story, but couldn’t it have come after Castiel chews out Dean?  Even the above mentioned “Metamorphosis” went for the brotherly drama first and the case came after.  That really worked. 
 
Speaking of Castiel’s first scene, this is drama done right. Sadly “Like A Virgin” is a loaded episode and while that’s always a good thing, it didn’t leave much room for Castiel.  The two scenes he’s in are great, and he’s none too happy with Dean right now.  This is a far cry from the season four Castiel and it’s so wonderful to see how much he cares about what happens to both Sam and Dean.  I find his angelic perception of the human soul fascinating. A shredded soul is worse than death. He seems to have a bigger grasp on its power yet what else was Dean supposed to do? Castiel makes his point clear, death would have been the better option. Lucky for us though, that didn’t happen.    
 
The Brothers
 
Inner TV Critic:  Cute, a hug.
 
Inner Fan Girl:  CUTE?? What show are you watching?  OMG, poor Sammy!!!!  He’s so confused yet relieved, yet still traumatized…he needs a hug! Just look at the way he clings onto Dean, squeezing him like he never wants to let go.  It’s “Mystery Spot” all over again!  He’s been through a terrible, terrible ordeal, stuff that can only be in someone’s worst nightmare, but none of that matters for he has his brother back.  All is well again.  And Dean...OH DEAN!  He’s stunned and knows something isn’t normal, but he’ll let it go.  His Sammy is back!   
 
Inner TV Critic: You got all that from a hug?
  


You have to admit, the hug is significant.  Sam doesn’t remember anything other than falling into the hole in “Swan Song.”  As far as he’s concerned, that happened yesterday.  He wasn’t able to give his brother that hug before going down, only a look of assurance that everything will be okay.  He never thought he’d see Dean again. Now he has that chance and there’s no freaking way he’s passing up the opportunity.  It is the same as “Mystery Spot.”  When put into that perspective, fan girl gets weepy.    
 
Bobby’s attitude is understandable.  His discomfort is a bit more than Sam trying to kill him.  It’s that Sam is still a loose cannon.  He could explode at any minute now, although he doesn’t know what to do about it any more than Dean.  It’s almost like he’s with Castiel on this one, that death might have been the better option.  He can see much better what unhinged Sam is capable of.  His attitude is meant to reflect the unease and doubt with Sam and Jim Beaver pulled it off perfectly.  
 
Dean on the other hand, you can’t blame the guy for hoping this is a clean slate.  He’s desperately wanted his brother back ever since he found out Sam was soulless and even before that, probably when Sam said yes to Lucifer. He even went through terrible heartache and took extreme measures to just get things back to the way they were.  He must believe that everything is set right.  Sure deep down he knows better, but considering how hard the last year and a half has been, he needs to believe in the fantasy.  Dean’s always been a “in the moment” kind of guy.  The moment right now is good and he’s going to enjoy it.  It’s exactly how you’d expect Dean to react.
 
Come on, you have to admit, going on the road, going back to the old ways, it made you happy. The heart to heart in the Impala, when Dean confesses he was with Lisa for a year, but won’t tell Sam he’s the one that broke them apart. The clippings on the tacky motel room wall (another mural?), the fast food, the research including the return of John’s journal, it’s all bliss for a fan, as much as it was for the Winchester brothers.
 
Dragons
 
Inner Fan Girl: The whole “damsels in distress” thing is uncomfortable.  Is that how young virgins act?  Crying, passive victims?  I just pegged young women to be tougher than that.  After all, how many of these girls grew up on Buffy?  Maybe they were singled out just for that reason, because they haven’t practiced “What Would Buffy Do?”
 
Inner TV Critic:  Stop over-speculating! It’s a TV show.
 
Inner Fan Girl: (sheepishly) Sorry.  
 
The MOTW story is pretty weak.  When dragons were mentioned in the episode summary, part of me had to think, how is a low budget show going to pull that off?  They didn’t really.  I’m not sure what fell apart. Maybe the story the way it’s plotted is too textbook. Or maybe ruthless (and almost faceless) monsters terrorizing innocent young women is depicted a bit too realistically. It’s clearly unsettling. Maybe it’s also that we didn’t learn enough about these creatures. Why they exist, why they might want “mother” back, and how they’ve managed to take on human form, etc.   
 
As far as I can tell, the dragons existed for the great setup of jokes and clever one-liners. There’s a wealth of pop culture to pull from. Middle Earth, Dungeons and Dragons (the 12 sided dice line), World of Warcraft, The Never-Ending Story, and of course my absolute favorite, Hogwarts. When Harry Potter references can be worked into this show, by Bobby nonetheless, it can’t be all bad.  

What is the rock cooking?
 
Inner Fan Girl:  OMG!  Dean’s showdown with the sword and the stone is pure hilarity!  Can’t stop laughing!  ROFL!
 
Inner TV Critic:  Bwah!!!  (wipes tears from eyes).
 


Well at least we’re on the same page about something.  When a 14th century sword bound into stone meets 21st century Dean Winchester, the results are sure to be unexpected.
 
I absolutely love Dean in this episode. He’s had a really rough year and it’s so wonderful, so refreshing, so joyous to see him finally smile, relax, and be pleased with how things are going. We got to see some of that confident swagger and fighting spirit that’s been missing for a long time. He even got the pot of gold at the end! Has that ever happened? He got so many great lines, my favorite being his answer to where he got the sword. â€œComic Con.” Ha! I remember the aisles of sword vendors there (seriously). I can’t remember the last time Sam and Dean enjoyed an entire episode of light hearted banter. â€œClap Your Hands If You Believe” tried, but that wasn’t really Sam and it was very cynical humor (still funny, but different). 
 
You aren’t going to get more classic than Dean taking on the Excalibur challenge. Every single bit of that setup was perfect. The acting, the direction, the lighting, the dramatic score in perfectly placed parts, it all amounted to something out of this world. And funny. Side splittingly, fall on the floor funny. Fans REALLY needed a laugh like that. When Dean takes on said stone with the 21st century answer of plastic explosives, beaming over his victory only to find it went very wrong with the broken sword, his reaction couldn’t have been more perfect. â€œ You’ve got insurance for this, right?”  Not the right time to ask by a long shot. I’ll definitely be pouring tons of detail and praise into these scenes in my full length recap. 
 
Well that didn’t take long
 
Inner Fan Girl: (cries)  Poor Sam. He can’t enjoy the moment like Dean. When he learns the truth from Cass, I could see his heart just drop into his stomach. It’s so gut wrenching. He’s crushed, remorseful, feeling guilty, and it wasn’t his fault! It just isn’t fair he has to carry all these burdens.
 
Inner TV Critic: Yeah, I got to admit, Jared Padalecki played that beautifully. 
 


I applaud the producers for not dragging out Sam remembering things. We know the history. All lies, whether told by Sam or Dean, come back to bite them in the end. I’m thrilled in this case it’s sooner than later. The fact that Sam figured out something wasn’t right almost immediately and didn’t press Dean for answers, giving his brother the benefit of the doubt, is a plot twist I greatly appreciate. He does trust Dean. We are back to that growth from the end of season five.  
 
Furthermore, when Sam learned the hard truth that he was really walking around soulless for a year and there’s a wall in his head separating the bad memories that could kill him, he doesn’t want to run from that. He’s willing to face up to his atrocities and the fact it wasn’t really him isn’t an excuse. This is the same Sam indeed that accepted responsibility for releasing Lucifer and went down that hole into Hell to fix it.  However, this admission to Dean, along with the fact that he did go poking around behind Dean’s back, is foreshadowing of what we suspected about Sam all along, he most certainly will scratch at that wall. 
 
Oh, one more thing, why didn’t Sam hug Castiel? That’s a clear indication Sam’s soul is back. Sam wasn’t being honest with Castiel and a hug would have given away his guilt over it. RoboSam would have given him the hug without thinking twice.  
 
Mother of All
 
Inner Fan Girl: Meh.
 
Inner TV Critic: It definitely creates possibilities and opens up a new realm of mythology to ponder, but in this episode, meh. 



 
So why open up a new world of mythology to explore? I’ve always loved the notion that the origin of monsters was never explored and that in this new chapter of “Supernatural” they are going there. From what’s revealed here though, how is Purgatory different from Hell? Is this just a new version of Hell with monsters instead of demons? I suppose that’s what the rest of the season is going to dig into and I’ll watch with interest, but not enough time was given to the rising of “Mother” in this episode to generate that much excitement. â€œLike A Virgin” in some ways tried to do too much, but that could be due to the first half of the season not giving this story enough time to build.
 
So what’s the overall grade? A for the brotherly moments, B- for everything else. Not sure where that averages out, but if you’re willing to overlook all the technicalities and go for pure entertainment value, that grade comes out on the higher end. Next week looks like a continuation of where Sam and Dean left off, with Sam’s past coming back to bite him. Can’t wait to see how that plays out.  
 

Comments  

Rose
# Rose 2011-02-07 14:23
Loved your review, Alice - kinda like Siskel and Ebert from the old days!

As for me? I was fangirl all the way with this episode! Let someone else play critic and yeah, there's always stuff to nitpick but I was in shear Supernatural heaven with the return our "Sammy", right along with Dean.

Can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. I'm jazzed again for my favourite show. All hail the return of Sammy!!!
Yirabah
# Yirabah 2011-02-07 14:34
I love it how you let your two personalities talk this out.

My inner fan girl loved the brotherly part of the show of course. But just like your critic I am disappointed at the dragons. Was hoping for something more. Though I don't know how they could have pulled that off on a low budget show. And the "mother of all" story line was cut extremly short. Nearly seemed like they thought of it the very last moment and just tried to squeez it in somehow.

You forgot one pop culture reference. The new name for Robosam. T1000. The model name for the robo in Terminator 2.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-07 15:02
Alice,

Great review, I truly enjoy 'hearing' from both the fangirl and the critic; well done.

Interesting that Bobby is more on the Castiel line of death might have been better. Quite the change from WTLB when Dean would have rather let Sam die than be a monster while Bobby was of a different line, let Sam have the blood or risk death. I think here Dean would have killed Sam had Death not decided to 'earn a fruit basket.'

Soulless Sam six episodes too long...yep, in total agreement. Ah, well, 'tis done, I can ignore the entire first half outside of WAB from here forward.

You and Yume have the same theory as to why Sam didn't hug Castiel and that theory makes more and more sense to me each time. Like you said, another indication that Sam is well and truly back. Which is why I applauded the choice in Clap Your Hands as to why Sam didn't drink the beer; it's not really Sam and he wasn't pretending anymore and now he won't hug because he's going to 'use' Cas for information; yep, Sam is back.

Don't know how they're going to deal with the whole 'scratching at the wall' that we know is going to happen and not have Sam being a puddle of drool on the floor unless it has something to do with Death's cryptic comments about a soul being stronger than Dean gives it credit for. Perhaps time and the healing of being with the people that love him will ease the crush of what happened. It must have for Dean for while he suffered and still suffers he hasn't gone the way of a puddle of drool...of course all that liquor is still a problem. :-?

Great review and hopefully the fan girl and the critic will continue their partnership for it makes for really great reading.
Raelee514
# Raelee514 2011-02-07 15:06
I think the show has stated that Purgatory is where, ghosts, demons and monsters(vampir es, shapeshifters, ect) go when they die/hunter's kill them.

So everything is there.

And also is why I think Mary might be there.
Bevie
# Bevie 2011-02-07 15:13
Wonderful review Alice - can't wait for your recap.

As for me, I was fangirl all the way. This episode I couldn't have cared less for the MOTW. I've waited 2 and a half years for this brotherly bond returning and the awesome hug Sammy gave his Dean. Loved the loving looks Dean was giving Sam as he used his puppy dog eyes during his interviews, and Sam's disapproval of Dean stealing the girl's diary delighting his brother enormously. Just everything I have looked forward to since Lazarus Rising, which was great but was spoiled a bit for me when the first night Dean was back from hell Sam sneaked out on him and went with Ruby the bitch. It's been such a long time coming the MoTW could never spoil the reunion for me.

I'm going to love season six now just because of this event and am able to unclench my stomach muscles and enjoy a few episodes before the bad stuff starts again. (hopefully)

Can't understand why Cas has a stick up his butt about bringing back Sam's soul. I always assumed the soul was what heaven was most concerned about. Cas has always been a glass half full about everything though, so maybe its just that. Still he is an angel and surely the soul is most important to him? It should be. I'm wondering where Jimmy's soul is when Cas is fighting his heavenly war. Hope it isn't in purgatory. Doesn't look like a nice place to visit!
jillyanne
# jillyanne 2011-02-07 15:42
Love your review Alice :)
As a fan of the show rather than a 'Samgirl' or 'Deangirl', I have to admit the squeeing EOF (equal opportunity fangirl) rampaged right out of her cage for this episode....sorr y, not too worried by a less than gripping MOTW (for this episode at least).
The bottom line for me was the brilliant performances of both Jared and Jensen throughout. It was great to see the old Dean re-emerging, and slightly the worse for wear Sammy back (great to see the less emo version : I'm sorry. I screwed up. I'll fix it. Now let's get on with the case.
No doubt in Unforgiven we'll see a more emo Sam when he finds out Dean and Bobby weren't RoboSam's only victims, but for now the writing and Jared's performance were perfect.
I think I've managed to cram my inner fangirl back in the cage now, so I'll be able to give the next episode a more balanced viewing.
Loving S6...just wish they'd hurry up and confirm S7
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-07 17:06
Alice, I loved your review in terms of inner fan girl and tv critic! And I agree on the weak MOTW part, really, I expected more of the dragons, they didn’t thrill me at all, I have to admit. I’m also not yet thrilled about Mommie Dearest. I am curious whether this is going to be the big bad now.
But – just as you described it wonderfully – I did love the episode! I felt such warmth in me watching those beautiful brother scenes, from the hug to the ‘I’m sorry’, it felt like kind of warm blanket I’ve been missing.
I’m kinda too tired right now to write anything coherent (it’s about 11pm over here) and considering that I have another long day ahead of me, I should probably head to bed now
I loved your review! And I’d like to second Elle2’s opinion – the relationship of fan girl and critic seems very productive…
Love, Jas
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2011-02-07 17:48
I'm thirding(?) your technique of inner fangirl/inner critic. This was fantastic!

I was all fangirl over this ep. Don't think I would have cared if the MOTW had been Oscar the Grouch and Elmo, Sammy was back, Dean of old was back, the LOVE was back!

"I absolutely love Dean in this episode. He’s had a really rough year..."

Only one small disagreement. It's been a bit over a year of roughness for Dean. Poor guy. ((((Dean)))) Which made it all the more sweet to see a bit of the old Dean. When was the last time? Monster Movie? "Big Pretzel!" Or maybe Yellow Fever? "I'll hunt. I'll hunt anything." I suppose Heaven and Hell might count. "You're stealing my best line!" Or I could bring up the "Chocolate!" in Hammer of the Gods.

But these are all only glimpses. Seeing Dean being all out and out The Dean again, was amazing.

And seeing Sam again!? Well, if I start down that happy trail, I'll be fangasoming at novel length.

So dragons? What dragons? Mother of All? Pfft! No idea what anyone is talking about. It's the brothers, the car, the music...it's Supernatural!
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2011-02-07 18:36
To be honest, I was too much blissful to even notice that there were monsters in this episode. All I know is that my boys are back together and they love each other. :D It's season 2 all over again. Not even Valdemort would have caught my attention. :zzz
nancyL
# nancyL 2011-02-07 19:17
Love this.

I agree the Soulless One wore out his welcome by 'All Dogs..', by then we knew he was soulless, had no love for Dean, he was pretty much a robot, terminator, T1000, etc. He needed to go. :lol:

I found myself saying, who cares about dragons and virgins, I want more Sam and Dean reconnecting. :lol:

'... we really couldn’t give a damn about another nondescript brunette in peril.' LOL :lol: :lol: That is so true.

'Dean is happy again'. DAH. All Dean needed was to have his Sammy back. All we needed was to have Sammy back. :lol:

Alice, when Sammy woke up and practically tackled Dean, I also thought 'Mystery Spot' (my absolute favorite episode of all time). He had one thing in mind and god help anyone who stepped in between him and his brother. This is what was missing from the 'reunion' in 'Exile', Dean was thrilled to see Sam, but the Soulless One was pretending to be happy to see Dean. Here, Dean was ecstatic to see the resouled Sam, and Sam was ecstatic to see his brother, healed from the beatdown that he remembers putting on Dean, even though it was beyond his control.

Alice, the return of John's journal, that right there is a sign (hopefully) that things will get back to at least the second season normal.

You know that Dean wouldn't say anything about the missing year and a half of Sam's life, he is just pleased as punch to get Sammy back. Bobby wouldn't say anything in respect to Dean's wishes, but of course, he won't be happy about keeping quiet. It is good that Sam found out and it is good that he found out from Cas. Cas will tell him the truth without sugar coating it.

Dean vs the rock. Dean was not going to let the rock beat him. He was getting that sword one way or another. Okay, it was a bit damaged, but he still won. :lol:

Saw the clip over at Buddytv.com for the upcoming episode, and the Soulless One is back in a flashback with Gramps. It will be interesting to see the flashbacks and to compare that to the genuine Sammy.

The brotherly moments definitely get an A+, while the dragon and virgin story get a C.

Damn, I just went crazy here, and this is just your review. Sorry, I will try to keep it shorter when you do your recap, but I am not promising anything. :lol:
Traci
# Traci 2011-02-07 20:08
I think you summed it up perfectly!
annielicious14
# annielicious14 2011-02-07 20:24
Nice Review! You might want to get some help with that personality disorder! tee hee though you're both funny! :lol: I'm so glad the boys are back but I totally glad that The Dean is back! I love that character so very much!

In case you did'nt get anything from all my ramblings ..... I loved your review!

Thanks!
Judy Smith
# Judy Smith 2011-02-07 20:26
I don't know if anyone mentioned this, but this isn't the first time that dragons disguised has humans has cropped up. I don't know if anyone here reads the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. (if you don't then do, highly recommended.) Anyways in book three Harry Dresden encounters a dragon, who has taken on the form of a human. So the fact that SN did that doesn't really surprise me.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-07 20:31
I was a bit turned off by the mewling virgins who all pretty much even looked alike. The "mother of all" I think would've worked better with some tougher-looking woman -- or girl -- who had her own reasons for celibacy. She would have been scarier/more interesting if we'd got a bit of a look at her character before her transformation too, I think.

I agree with you here, sadly, Hollywood has this mindset that virgins are helpless, uninteresting, wallflowers without an ounce of courage or adventure and that there must be something mousy and simpering and childlike (pink walls and stuffed animals) Tis a shame for not only is that simply a cliche (as in not based in actuality) but because they decided to adhere to it, they've actually hurt a role that could be and should be awesome.

Heck, even Nancy from Jus In Bello had more gravitas than this one here. Hopefully that will get a makeover in the menace department once whatever her name is (the actress) actually gets something to do with the part.

Still, the boys are back, frankly, the big baddie can be the Stay Puff Marshmellow Man for me as long as the boys are back...come to think of it, that Stay Puff Marshmellow Man did have a hint of menace about him.... :P
nancyL
# nancyL 2011-02-07 20:46
elle2, the staypuff marshmallow man was f@@king scary. He (it) gave new meaning to the term 'when food attacks'. :lol: No amount of pepto or tums was going to take of that big ass marshmallow. But think of the size of the smore you could make. :P
Ra-e
# Ra-e 2011-02-07 22:16
loved this review! I agree with you on most of it.. and love the BUFFY reference.. mythical arch was a miss but everything else was perfect.. the brothers are back! I didn't realize how much I missed Sammy till he was back! :)
Suze
# Suze 2011-02-08 04:31
I'm solidly in the uncritical fan-girl faction ( my brain has been firmly nailed-up in the cupboard under the stairs so I can appreciate Primeval in all its stupid glory without any pesky logic getting in the way of the time-travelling dinosaurs and laughing at Becker's hair ) The hug and the return of the eyes-of-meltyne ss more than made up for the Eh?-What-The-F* ck-Are-You-On-A bout? qualities of the rest of the MOTW/bargain bucket of snivelly virgins tosh. Since when has Virgin = Drippy Whiner anyway ... When you're that age it takes a lot more stroppy bloody-mindedne ss to NOT have the squelchies with some spotty oik ...

Who cares though, Sam's back! Hurrah! Joy unconfined!
Junkerin
# Junkerin 2011-02-08 09:19
Hi Alice
Do you hear often diffrent voices in your head? You should go to a specialist or just tell your TV critic to shut up :lol:
I loved your review.
And I have an idea why Cas acted the way he did on Dean: Cas thought Sam sacrificed himself in order to prevent the Apocalypse and aczepted the price witch means Sam stays in the cage because there was nothing he can do about it.
sonia mary
# sonia mary 2011-02-08 11:54
fique feliz adorei. ser fan girl e muito bom pois assim com certeza tudo para o bem de jared jensen. com tanto elogios para jensen tenho que fazer finalmente justiça jared esta demais simplesmente 10
magichappening
# magichappening 2011-02-08 16:23
Dragons and virgins and Sam, oh my! (Screw the first two though, tis the Return of the Sam!!! HAAAAAAllelujah , hallelujah, hallelujah). Loved the two points of view review and overall loved the episode. My inner fangirl runneth amok.

The hug (THE HUG, ‘You got all that from a hug?’ Brilliance!), Dean’s one-liners, the return of Sammy… so much goodness, so little time. Jim Beaver was excellent and I totally sympathised with Bobby’s wariness. And the way Sam’s voice broke when he found out he had had no soul, broke my heart. Jared really blew me away with that scene.

(I don’t quite get why Sam did not hug Cas, although with Cas in his role as Devil’s Advocate par excellence I certainly wanted to smack him, so maybe that was it).

But Dean vs. the Sword in the Stone could be taken as a metaphor for the series, as someone else pointed out. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t accept it. And when you end up with half of what you wanted, you make do and get the job done (I love Dean Winchester).

With such a satisfying return of Sam, as other commenters have noted, I can completely forgive the blah dragons (apart from initial teaser shadow). And while Reign of Fire style special effects would have been amazing, as you point out, budget-wise twas always going to be human representations . This could have worked I think, but casting Stunt Dragons Numbers 1, 2 and 3 …

And in the same vein, particularly in juxtaposition to the Winchesters Reloaded, the damsels-in-dist ress story paled in significance (Really? Something flying above you and you run from UNDER trees to an OPEN field? Question: Who does that? Answer: ‘Damsels’. Ergo, definition? Damsels: Human females devoid of basic survival instincts). But given that it was Medieval Creatures Week, if they were going to use swooning females any week I suppose this was the one. Twould have been fun, though, to see the ‘Welcome to the 21st Century’ take...

But who cares if there be dragons and virgins of questionable interest? The boys are back in town! I am reserving judgement on the Mother/Jasmine- alike as Supernatural usually has a cool spin on things, the Samwall has great and ominous potential and we have ten more episodes to go and one of those is a Western! Bring it on, mate! :D
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2011-02-08 19:46
I am definitely in the fangirl category! Sammy is back, complete with those irresistible puppydog eyes, & Dean was smiling! Oh, how I've missed those expressions!
I'll ignore the weak MOTW & the new "big bad" for now,& just revel in the glory that was Dean vs. the Sword in the Stone.
fanotheboyz
# fanotheboyz 2011-02-08 20:28
I loved your review! I loved the episode, cheered for the boys, but had my critical moments too. Sam Winchester IS amazing. Who else can be comatose for 10 days with an IV (put in by whom?), fully clothed, wake up, have enough strength to navigate creeky basement stairs, and show up in the living room looking freshly showered and shaved? Then, to top it off, Dean gives him 2 beers! Yeah, great idea there. But at least, after accomplishing all that, there was a great hug; I'm still disappointed that there was less emotion than I would have liked, and not a single tear shed, but it was fuzzy.

Loved Bobby in this episode. Very believable. New love interest is...interestin g, but I like 'Cobbler Lady' better! I don't think the doc can bake and we all know Bobby likes a woman who bakes!

The dragon didn't do it for me, or the new BAD (I agree with Aerospina that she's Eve), but I think that'll develop over the rest of the season, so it didn't bother me.

I loved Dean's expressions in reaction to "Sammy" just being "Sammy" again. He was spot-on. Dean vs Rock was amusing but we all know he's done plenty to prove his worthiness to have that sword. I guess the rock didn't agree.

Overall, it was very enjoyable and I love that the boys are back. I'd say my fan-girl and my critic within duked it out and it came out a draw!
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2011-02-08 20:55
It's funny that you mention that because, you know, it did occur to me that Sam didn't have a shower or shaved in 10 days, and even so he appeared full of glory, all fresh and beardless. Unless, of oucrse, Dean bathed and shaved him in his sleep... Either way, I hate beards (sorry Bobby Girls) so I'll let it pass, because who wants a beard hiding Sammy's adorable features? :-)
Pragmatic Dreamers
# Pragmatic Dreamers 2011-02-08 21:28
So much to love in this episode. Hugs! Poop faces! Snark! Puppy dog eyes! Brotherly banter, uncomfortable Uncle Bobby, secure swords and Mother of All MOTHERS! Excellent stuff and so refreshing (although, as always, the willing suspension of disbelief comes into play.. see daisyfresh Sam and the no-time-elapsed trips to San Fran from Oregon, and to South Dakota from Oregon.) My only quibble is Sam's guilt over what he did as Robo-Sam. Paraphrasing: "I feel like someone slipped me the worst Mickey of all time, and I woke up to find the city on fire, and the Zippo in my pocket.. So, yeah, it's kind of my fault, but I'll fix it" Isn't that pretty much what happened with Ruby, the demon blood and releasing Lucifer? He got conned and manipulated and used (and RoboSam was used to try to find Purgatory) and then decided he had to make amends. To me it seems like the same storyline with different words. But we have 10 episodes left (and hopefully more.. fingers crossed for season 7) to see if it goes down a different path. I hope so, otherwise it might be just a tad repetitive. Although if they decided to repeat some shirtless scenes (and maybe add a few new Dean shirtless scenes, even short-sleeved Dean scenes!) I'd probably be okay with it!
Brynhild
# Brynhild 2011-02-09 19:11
Quote:
My only quibble is Sam's guilt over what he did as Robo-Sam. Paraphrasing: "I feel like someone slipped me the worst Mickey of all time, and I woke up to find the city on fire, and the Zippo in my pocket.. So, yeah, it's kind of my fault, but I'll fix it" Isn't that pretty much what happened with Ruby, the demon blood and releasing Lucifer? He got conned and manipulated and used (and RoboSam was used to try to find Purgatory) and then decided he had to make amends. To me it seems like the same storyline with different words.
I don't agree. In that case Sam was completely there. Yes, he had been manipulated and all, but he WAS THERE. Fully aware of what HE was doing, if not of all the plotting and the manipulations from angles and demons. He had his soul that should have been his moral compass to understand that giving in to "power" (every kind of power) is a very slippery road, because "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely", and doing it for "the greater good" is not a justification.

He was manipulated via his desperation to do something good with the evil inside him, but also his desire for revenge. And even if he was manipulated, he wasn't dumb, nor stoned, he had choice freedom all the time. And regularly he choose "the 'right' path", like Ruby said. He choose to trust Ruby, he choose to using his powers (figting evil with evil), he choose his pride and self-assurance and desire for revenge and for being in control over trusting, or at least hearing the advices of his loved ones, and doubting or questioning a little what he was doing.

So yes, he was responsible then for what he did. Because, manipulated or not, it was HIM who did it.

But RoboSam wasn't HIM. Or at least wasn't ALL of him. He (the real Sam) wasn't and is not aware of what his soulless body did during that year and a half. He couldn't control that body nor influence it in any way. So this time he's not really responsible for those actions. Or, better, he feels himself responsible like an owner of a dog that escaped or was stolen and while away killed someone. Responsible, but not really "guilty".
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2011-02-09 20:12
Precisely, responsible but not guilty. That's why I'm not feeling very warm towards Bobby right now. In my mind, I understand his reasons, but in my heart I'm disappointed with him. How can he blame Sammy for what RoboSam did? That only happened because Sammy's soul was stuck in Hell, where he went because he sacrificed himself for the whole team, like Dean said. Dean too was affected by RoboSam's actions, yet he's capable of making a distinction between RoboSam and his brother. So why can't Bobby? :-?
Brynhild
# Brynhild 2011-02-10 05:14
Because it was Bobby who felt the knife at his throat. This is not something you get easily rid of.

I don't think Bobby is "blaming" him. Although he was of the idea that RoboSam was still "Sam", or at least a part of him (what he technnically was), from the beginning, so maybe he's not totally certain that "that" Sam could never return. Like the ones here who hated this season so far and now are still not so sure the show will come back to what they loved to see, Bobby is very very very wary. He's going to wait and see what happens from now on, before relax and trust again.

But anyway, even if he was certain that RoboSam was a separate being from "Sammy", after an experience like the one he went through, you just can't see in the eyes the one who almost killed you. You just can't. It's not that you're blaming him, it's a psychological issue: in your mind, at least at the bottom of it, you link that face to that knife. You're scared of that face, because you watched that face hovering on you holding a knife at your throat. Even if the man with that face wasn't "himself" at the moment, and moreso when you loved that man. You have to reconcile the deadly stare with the loving look, and you need time to do it. Bobby needs this time.

Dean... well, he was always in a sort of denial about Sam (until it didn't hit him in the face in Season Four). Especially now that he has his "real" brother back he won't think about anything that could spoil his happiness, at least for the moment. Anyway he never was truly convinced that RoboSam was really his brother, like he said several times, and now he's more than eager to think so. He would deny every hint at the fact that his "Sammy" could retain something of RoboSam in him.

His fear (dread, I would say) of the "non-human" traits of his brother was there since the first season, with the psychic stuff, and it was ever his more profound and scarying fear, a fear that came almost true in the fourth season, that he had to face and learnign to live with in the fifth and that in this first half of season six came really and totally true, crushing him to the bone, taking every steady (or even unsteady) foundation of his personality and self-assurance from him (BTW, I think Jensen did a wonderful job showing the devastation that such situation brought to his behaviour and demeanour).

Now "Sammy" is back. His brother. His beloved little brother, cleaned and bright like a black slate (or "like a virgin"). And he won't listen to anyone doubting about that. He can't. Because after a long long time he feels like he's breathing again, he's living again, he can be himself again. He can't let something like memories or fears or doubts ruin this feeling. Otherwise, he'll have to face his fears again. And at the moment he can't do it. Dean needs his time to adjust too.
CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2011-02-09 04:00
Excellent review. :)
Karen
# Karen 2011-02-09 08:55
Hi Alice
As usual I just loved your review, especially your multi personality disorder.
I would have to say I am full on Inner Fan Girl.
Just having the Brothers Back is all I cared about in this episode.
I’ll let my Inner TV Critic poke its head out next episode...Well maybe.