All hunters in Supernatural have their reasons for why they do it. They all started because a loved one was killed by a supernatural creature"”demon, ghost, monster, it matters not. In "Adventures In Babysitting," we explore this"”and see the counter argument for why perhaps one should not.
Hunting has high costs. The initial loss that hurls a hunter into the life may be extremely painful and a powerful motivator, but as they continue to pursue it more injuries and losses are often incurred. Other loved ones are killed. Innocence is lost. Hopes for a normal life cease. The longer one stays in it, the more likely it is they will die on a job or accumulate enemies. Any of the vanquished creatures may have their own loved ones or allies that choose to hunt the hunter for revenge.
Revenge is a common reason for hunters to hunt. In this episode, it is a great motivator to Dean, after Bobby's death. Even so, it is a fast burning fire that will run cold before long. To survive, a hunter must have another reason to continue the practice. They must find their raison d'etre so to speak or they will meet their end quickly. It was Bobby's last words of wisdom to Dean.
In "Adventures to Babysitting," we see both Sam and Dean explore that wisdom in different ways. Dean, in his grief, allows himself to burn with revenge against Roman. He enlists Frank to discover the hidden message in the numbers Bobby provided upon his death bed. He struggles to find his composure, and more than ever before his old coping mechanisms are failing him. His masks slip, his grip on the things he keeps in his lead box are leaking, and he can no longer rely upon his typical bravado to power himself through.
He takes advice, seeking what he can no longer have with Bobby, from Frank about how to handle the life. Frank states, "Decide to be fine til the end of the week. Make yourself smile because you're alive and that's your job. And do it again the next week."
It's false advice that we see echoed in the end when Dean attempts, through a heavy heart and falling tears, a forced and pained smile. He is trying to swap out his old mask with this new and it fails just as badly. He is no closer to dealing with the issues he must face by adopting this than he was before. Revenge is his motivator, but it is leaving him empty and lost.
Dean also wishes to honor Bobby's sacrifice. He is determined and driven to discover what the numbers Bobby left behind mean. It, in many ways, is his way of keeping Bobby with him. We see this manifest in the physical when Dean handles Bobby's flask.
Sam, in a similar way, does the same. He is just as devastated by Bobby's passing. We see it in how agitated he is, pacing in the cabin, and in the sorrowful glance he gives Bobby's contact book. His soft spoken question if they should call those who knew Bobby pulls on the heart strings. And when Bobby's phone rings, Sam answers only to hear a young girl's voice on the other end. She is looking for Bobby and insists that she only talk to him.
As the brothers have had little progress on learning what Bobby's numbers mean, Sam tries to convince Dean to join him in helping her. Dean declines, and they separate to handle their cases. Upon arrival, Sam finds Krissy alone in a motel room. She is defensive, aggressive, and afraid---even if she does hide it behind sarcasm and bravado. She also lies to Sam, pretending that she does not know about the life or what her father was doing.
Sam feels that he should help her rescue her father. He does so in honor to Bobby, to thank him, and out of duty. He is finding his footing in the life with this case, even if he is using faulty information that places him in danger of not surviving it. While he may be going on a rescue mission to save another hunter, Sam acts as if Lee Chambers is a civilian. When the monster prepares to feed more from Chambers, Sam leaps into action, albeit verbally. He taunts, in an eerie echo of Soulless Sam, "No. I just want you to know how much I enjoyed cutting up your sisters."
Sam taps into that nature, hidden inside, in a moment of self sacrifice. Unlike Soulless Sam, he is doing so at his own detriment. The monster feeds on Chambers again and he dies, so, instead Sam offers himself to it in his place. It's the exact opposite of Soulless Sam's behavior. He would have worked on getting free and surviving, rather Chambers did or not. Here, his compassion merged with his calculating nature to give us a Sam willing to give all----including possibly his life---to save others.
Dean, meanwhile, scouts a field---the exact location Bobby's numbers led him. There, he helps Frank set up the surveillance to learn what the Leviathans are doing with it. When they return to Frank's hideout, Dean collapses into a heap and sleeps for 36 hours, missing a crucial call from Sam---in which Sam states, "Dean, hey. So I think this guy was hunting a Vetala. Um, Dad took one down back in the day. Says they're maladjusted loner types "“ like to knock a guy out, drag him home."
Dean attempts to then call, only to get Krissy. He arrives to her apartment and looks for the same information taped in the closet that Sam accessed. Krissy drops her ignorance act and demands that she go with Dean. Dean refuses, demanding that she hand over the information instead. She tells him that she burned it, but has it memorized, making certain that she has to go along.
Dean is reluctant to bring in a child. He didn't want Ben in the life, refused to allow him to touch his guns, and in the end watched him have to shoot demon possessed humans. This is a stripping of innocence, echoing his sentiment in "Defending Your Life," that "Hunters are never kids. I wasn't." Dean does not want Krissy, no matter how tough she acts, to become a hunter and lose what childhood and innocence she has left.
Krissy represents the two fold reasons why one should and should not hunt, just as she represents both brothers. Her pretended innocence points to Sam's before discovering the truth. She is stunned when she finds out that Sam did escape the life---even briefly---to attend Stanford. It seems to have not occurred to her that she could do something like that---while being a hunter's child. She, in that, presents the before the supernatural invades.
Her attitude and behavior inside the monster's lair demonstrates her reflection of Dean. She is cocky, self assured, and swift to action---and yet, much like Dean, it is all a mask. Dean sees through this and calls her on it, remarking, "Well, I hate to break it to you, but it's all over your face "“ you're scared."
Dean echoes this sentiment when he hesitates, not once, but twice. It's an odd moment for him to do so, but in some ways it makes perfect sense. Dean is watching a child---a 14 year old---kill a monster in a brutal manner. He is watching not just a violent action, but he is witnessing the loss of innocence. It is a punch to his gut in some ways. It reminds him of when Ben lost his own---but more importantly when Dean himself lost his very innocence. He is watching another child end up in his situation, trapped with no way out.
At the hospital, Dean says to Lee, who is protesting quitting, "I know. Your family. That's the same reason you should get out now."
It makes one think, wonder, if a family member's murder is the reason to hunt, shouldn't the family left alive be a reason not to? One could argue that another supernatural attack could come along to finish the rest off, but chasing after it most certainly will. And yet, both arguments are strong. Sam took on this hunt to help a little girl get her father back. Dean convinces that same father to quit the life so his daughter can have one.
If no one does the hunts, then who would get the loved ones back for those ill equipped or prepared to handle the assault? Sam exhibits this side of the argument beautifully. His determination and drive to return a father to a daughter, to stop a monster from killing more innocent people, points to the very reason the Winchesters truly entered and stayed in the life---saving people, hunting things, the family business.
Despite the desperation and grief consuming Dean, a kernel of hope is encapsulated in the conversation Sam and Dean share in the car. He says to Sam, "Yeah. It's nice to walk away from someone and feel like they could be okay."
This is a win---a small one---for the Winchesters. It might seem insignificant next to the losses and the trials awaiting them, but if Dean can grasp onto this and hold on tight, he won't have to listen to Frank's advice. There is hope in what they do, it is simply waiting for them to see it.
Kevin MacNally reprises a cynical and sarcastic Frank Deveraux. He is more caustic in this episode than the last. Underneath his abrasiveness, MacNally shows that perhaps Frank cares about Dean---at least in terms of killing the Leviathan to keep himself alive---when he says, "You look horrific. When was the last time you really slept a night?" He gets a lot of snappy punch lines, such as accusing Gwyneth Paltrow of being a Leviathan. His speech about his own loss is heartbreaking. In this, we see Frank reflect Dean's inability to work through the grieving process.
Madison McLaughlin gives us a brave yet frightened Krissy Chambers. She allows us to see just how much bravado is in Krissy, and yet her cry for her father reveals the truth: that she is indeed a frightened child. She is witty and smart, and the way she delivered her lines showed how much skill she has for one so young. I particularly adored her scenes with Jensen in the car and at the end. The fist bump tease was endearing to me, and showed their chemistry well.
Paula Lindberg and Meghan Ory play the monster duo in this episode. They set up a perfect bait and switch, while one drugs the victims in the diner and the other waits outside, teasing the quarry through the windows. They were snarky. Marlene's remark that Chambers was "Cabo Wabo," gave us a clue that perhaps she wasn't all she seemed. Sally's snarky line, right before Sam's sacrifice, cut deep, "Strong silent. Fine. I don't need much entertainment with my meal."
Ian Tracey gives us Lee Chambers, an echo of John Winchester. He has become a hunter after his wife's demise, and he takes his young daughter with him, leaving her behind in hotel rooms to fend for herself. It is clear from her conversations with Dean that he has been training her. He is driven to hunt to avenge his wife---but we see him change his mind when Dean confronts him. Tracey's small nods and shamed expression in the hospital room indicates that perhaps he realizes that what he is doing is causing harm to his child. Hopefully he'll stick to being retired and give Krissy the chance to go on to college.
Jensen provided a conflicted, grieving Dean. His sadness and anger showed in his interactions with Frank. Jensen showed Dean's exhaustion well, the way his eyes narrowed and his body relaxed in the chair. Dean's anxiety at possibly seeing another child killed in front of him showed in his shocked expression and visible hesitation. Dean claimed not to have any patience left to Frank, and despite snapping at Krissy to "Eat a cookie or something," Jensen showed that perhaps there was more left in the tank for Dean. His character has always had a soft spot for children, and here again we see Jensen bring that trait to life. His fist bumping and teasing showed that he had easily connected with her, and if Dean had not been under such distress and grief it's easy to see that these two would become even faster friends. I found it moving, especially on a rewatch, to see Dean's forced smile and tears at the end. Jensen conveyed so much with a simple gesture to me, and its forced nature falls in line with what Dean is doing. Its power only grew with multiple watches.
Jared gave us a concerned and compassionate Sam. He, much like Dean, is not handling Bobby's death well, and we see this in his tone of voice and actions. Sam spoke softer for much of this episode---first with Dean and then with Krissy. Even so, Jared made Sam flip a switch, and draw upon the colder, calculated personality we witnessed in Soulless Sam. To see Sam employ it in a moment of self sacrifice highlighted just how screwed up Soulless Sam had been. Jared's scene at the end in the car was just as heartbreaking. Seeing Sam confess that he is not okay and that he just wants to work, before nestling against the car window just tugs. They may have found some kernel of hope to latch on to if they only take it, but there is a lot of pain and hurt both brothers must face first.
Now who's ready for Gangster Dean? I know I am!