"Well, this is a new one." I'll say! Here it is a few days later and I'm still reeling.
I loved "Hello, Cruel World," only slightly more than "Meet The New Boss." Both have been great and man am I excited about this season seven. I haven't been this enthused about the start of a Supernatural season since season four, my favorite season so far. Just two episodes of season seven have brought us more heart stopping thrills and emotional rollercoasters than all of season six.
There are several reasons why I loved this episode, and one is not the fact that I'm wondering why it took seven freaking seasons to show Sam and Dean being rushed to a hospital in an ambulance. It's Creature of The Black Lagoon meets A Beautiful Mind. In other words, a mish mash that can only be pulled off with brilliance by Ben Edlund.
In this show we often get a great monster of the week story or one enticing and tear jerking family drama, but it's been a long time that both have been pulled off so perfectly in same episode. Both stories blended together very well. This script is flawless and captivating from beginning to end. You knew it was an Edlund script from the second it came on the screen. "Black Water" by The Doobie Brothers? Bwah, the sardonic musical choice again. ("Space Oddity" is still my favorite).
The Leviathans are a creepy lot, aren't they? Their plotting is patient and diabolical, and their horrors far more subtle, which makes them about a hundred times more dangerous. They're old, they can't be killed, and some of them are pretty darned creative too. They're also organized, and that can't be good for humans and the hunters that have to face them. Take that Mother of All!
On the other side, the Winchester drama continues and everything continues to fall further down the rabbit hole. What makes their situation so fascinating this time is that it's not just Sam and Dean and their heartfelt exchanges in the Impala. Bobby is a big part of this now and holds the sanity for both of them. They are all looking out for each other, and finding out more and more that since the angel in their pocket is gone they're all alone in the world. It's really hard to believe that just a year ago Bobby kept Dean out of his life and let him think Sam was dead. I can't imagine these three without each other.
A Beautiful Mind
We all knew that there would be consequences when the wall in Sam's head fell. There were enough warnings. Still, we really didn't know what. Taking a page out of A Beautiful Mind works. Sam is haunted vividly by the one being he fears the most, Lucifer. He's the hallucination that won't go away and constantly pokes at him until he can't take it anymore. No matter how often Sam tells himself it isn't real, Lucifer won't go away. Sam doesn't know what to believe.
I don't know about everyone else, but when I see a large delusional man spend his quiet time cleaning his guns, there's just something not right about that. Very eerie. I'm no expert in the case of hallucinations or schizophrenic behavior, but Sam Winchester has never been suicidal. There's a difference between being self-sacrificing and just plain blowing your brains out. Sam is only willing to die for a purpose. So why is he being pushed into thoughts of suicide through this psychotic break? Why is he cleaning those guns all the time? Is this really a subconscious wish, or is there more to this story than we believe? Could this really bad acid trip be more than just a broken psyche?
Through his hallucinations serious questions are raised. What will Sam do if he never gets better? He's ruled out "professional help," for a regiment of antipsychotics don't sit well with him. He wants to believe things will get better, but a bombshell hits. "You are never going to be okay Sam." That's his deepest fear right there and it just about kills him when he thinks Dean is the one saying it to him. It makes sense to him in a way since Dean has said hurtful things in the past. Dean would never say that now though, knowing how fragile his brother is. Sam can't iron that out though, not in his state.
I never believed Sam wanted to die. Every time Lucifer tried to suggest it, Sam would get angry. In the most extreme case, firing his gun all over the warehouse, flipped out crazy angry. Just before Dean arrived in the warehouse though, my mind changed. Sam thought about it. All that taunting from his hallucinations about how he can't be fixed, how he'll never get better, how there's no way out, he was at his breaking point. We know Sam feared he was too far gone just by his talk with Bobby. He's scared. Even his tripped out psyche knew that in order to end it all, Dean had to be absent. He had to go somewhere remote so Dean wouldn't find him. Lucky for him, he didn't know about the GPS Dean turned on his phone.
Sam can go there again. Dean may have talked him off of the ledge this time, but was it enough? As history has proved, Dean can't always be there. As a result, we're left with a lot of questions about Sam's mental state. Can he be pushed to suicide? Will he learn to ignore Lucifer's presence, much like John Nash in A Beautiful Mind? Is there something really going on here more than a battered and broken psyche that can see through the cracks? Could Lucifer actually be controlling him somehow? Hee, there's 21 more episodes left in the season to explore that. I think I might be batty by the end of this season.
Sam's also got some confidence issues and is a little afraid to hunt right now. He knows his little crack up at the laboratory at the beginning of the episode wasn't good. He let Dean and Bobby down and can't be relied on. But it seems that now he might have another serious complication. Is it possible his confidence will suffer greater over the Leviathan attack? Was his seizure in the ambulance a result of Lucifer and those Hell memories flooding through, or the fact that he was cracked in the noggin by a tire iron? Either way, could he feel like he let Dean down again by letting himself go down at a crucial time? Maybe, Sam does struggle with guilt a lot.
On a side note, was anyone actually freaked out over Sam's condition in the ambulance? I know we've seen seizures with him before, but I was actually scared about it this time. Intercranial pressure is nothing to sneeze at. That's bleeding and/or swelling around the brain! That's some serious shit. Remember Dean in "In My Time of Dying?" That. The alarms on the medical equipment going off added some effective drama too. Yeah, I know, he'll recover. Likely faster than Dean and his broken leg. That looked nasty. But still!
You're Fine (sarcastic overtones)
Dean isn't so well himself. I know that the scenes with Castiel's loss were short changed, but there wasn't a lot of time to mourn. I think of it this way though. Dean has experienced so much loss in his life. He's a little tapped out by now. Sure, it hurts, but he can't let it stop him. As he told Bobby, his mailbox is full. This is the guy that's lost everyone close to him in his life. Even Sam. He had to live for a year thinking Sam was dead, but he went on. Kind of interesting though that his last straw falls with Bobby, not Sam or Castiel, isn't it? I'm hoping that little reminders pop up here and there about Castiel for Dean, the stuff the just stings a little. Finding the trenchcoat or seeing an angel statue. I don't think our time with Castiel is over.
With Dean stress isn't so obvious, but signs are there. He's fraying at the edges, more than we believe. One early sign comes when he's interrogating Sam over what he's been seeing. Dean is pretty unnerved by Sam's behavior, especially when they get to the Satan part. He had to pour a drink by that point. Every question he had, Sam had all the logic lined up. "You can't torture someone who has nothing left to be taken away," and "It had to be a mess Sam, or you wouldn't believe it was your life." Then he noticed Sam looking at the center of the room.
Dean: Wait, are you seeing him right now?
(Sam, on the brink of tears, nods.)
Dean: You know that he's not real, right?
(Sam sees that Lucifer looks real to him).
Sam: He says the same thing about you.
Dean's horrified reaction is clear. He's in way over his head here. Even Bobby is spooked enough where he has to leave the room. Dean knows this isn't something he's going to be able to easily fix, like reversing a spell or a curse. His brother is experiencing a severe mental break and not just some flashback stress. This is far beyond what he experienced after his time in the pit.
However, when Sam is having his worst episode, Dean knows exactly how to talk him down. Through his experiences, Dean has learned to tell real pain from old pain. Part of this could be from his time as a torturer, but he knows. I do wonder if Dean was reluctant until now to share this because it opened old wounds for him from his time in Hell. Dean's never dealt with his trauma well and the memories still haunt him, but he's at least been able to differentiate what's real and what's past. Just as Sam pulled Dean through last week with Castiel, Dean returns the favor. It's what these guys do best. I still tear up over "Believe in that, you've got to believe me. You make it stone number one and you build on it."
Dean's up against a lot though, and the idea of handling this intense burden alone is something he can't bear. I'm not sure Bobby could have known it would take his own disappearance to get Dean to admit he's had enough. Can you imagine Bobby hearing Dean say in a voice mail after a Leviathan attacks him and burns his house down, "If you're gone, I swear, I'm going to strap my "beautiful mind" brother into the car and I'm going to drive us off the pier. You asked me how I'm doing? Well not good." Dean's frustration is clear in the ambulance too. No matter what he does, he can't win. It's because of him that he and Sam are being hand delivered to the Leviathan wounded and helpless. What choice did he have though given his broken leg and Sam's serious head trauma? Ah, the wicked catch 22. Ben Edlund, you magnificent bastard.
"Hey, what am I? Chopped brains on toast?"
This episode shows Bobby at his most fatherly. I love it since Sam and Dean both need some looking after right now. He knows Sam and Dean are on edge and it's time to placate. He steps in when Dean comes in hard on Sam for not telling them about his hallucinations. Notice how he steps in and finishes the bandaging of Sam's hand while Dean does the sterilizing? It's tag team wound care! While Bobby's definitely concerned about Sam and will keep an eye on him, Dean is his main worry. He isn't going to take Dean's "horse crap" either that he's fine, even calling him out on the fact that he got angry when Sam did that to him. Given Dean's joking reaction over his concern though, Bobby was able to crack a small smile and break out the "idgit" line, realizing Dean isn't too far over the edge yet.
Bobby is called upon again by Sheriff Mills to save the day. It's really cute, even if she's on those happy pills, how she fondly regards him as her hero. Bobby needs that kind of appreciation about ten times over, and he looked like he enjoyed it, "roofies" driven and all. I'm so glad she didn't die.
I'm so dying to see Bobby's reaction about losing his house. I know the cliffhanger is setup to make it look like he is MIA and possibly dead, but really that was more for our benefit to see Dean freak out over it. He's okay I'm sure, so how is he going to handle this little threat? I imagine he's got some payback to dish out. I'd love to see how all three men go on now that their safe haven is gone.
The Technical Stuff
I'd be remiss if I didn't the praise some of the technical aspects of the episode. Guy Norman Bee once again did a great job as director and is proving to be a useful mainstay for the show. This popular guest director keeps up brilliantly with the quick pacing of this loaded script, but still captures shots that pack a wallop of emotional punch when needed. The floating trenchcoat and entire warehouse scene had me in tears. Let's not forget the creep factor either. The scene that stands out for me is the horrified Sheriff Mills watching through the door window while "Dr. Sexy" helps himself to his human liver snack. The story is told merely by expressions through opposite sides of the door window. That's a way to sell a horror story. The scenes integrating Mark Pellegrino (Lucifer), sometimes there, sometimes not, had to be the trickiest to shoot. They were pulled off perfectly.
The visual effects team earn huge kudos for the lake scene as the Leviathan bust out of their sunken vessel (kudos for making Misha look as gory as possible too). The whirlpool and blast wave of black is awesome. As for lighting, Serge Ladoucer as his team again had those pitch perfect moments. The entire warehouse scene was so well done. Here's my choice for the week though. Just amazing.
It's not an Edlund script without Biggersons! Now they have a pie bar. "It's like a salad bar, but with pie!" Why wasn't there time to show Dean at the pie bar? I demand to see that in a future episode.
"You want to do couples yoga or do you want to get back to hunting big bads?" Now there's the snarky Dean Winchester we all know and love.
"I really think Prince William has found the right girl." Aww, even Lucifer loves the royals!
"You having a little bag lady moment?" Bobby is getting so many great lines, isn't he? With Castiel gone, he has to pick up some of the comic relief. Here's another. "Well, either Sheriff Mills is having an Obama care insured opium dream or something's eating folks down at Sioux Falls General Hospital."
Overall grade, another A. I considered A+, but the season is young. The drama, the action, the tension, all have been ratcheted up to 11. I can't wait for next week, which not only picks up where the hospital drama left off, but is an another episode directed by Jensen Ackles. Given the fact that Dean has a broken leg, that's going to free up more directing time. Expect a Sam centered episode, especially since Colin Ford is guesting.