Oh boys, you’re killing me!  I do admit, like the other reviewers here at this site, I wasn’t sure what to expect from “The Slice Girls.”  It looked like more irrelevant filler to me.  Boy was I wrong.  It’s one of the better Sam/Dean character studies to come from “Supernatural” in a while.  The last two seasons anyway.  It perfectly blended the MOTW story with the struggles Sam and Dean are facing.  That truly hasn’t been done well in recent memory.  
 
I got a little something different out of this episode than others.  There’s no doubt that Sam and Dean are both in very bad places.  But what I saw in the entire drama of “The Slice Girls” was Dean slowly coming out of his funk and on the road to recovery, while Sam is headed for a dramatic, really horrible crash and burn.  How so?  The signs are all there.  
 
Dean - On The Road To Healing

 
No, Dean’s not back to old form.  Not by a long shot.  He’s got a lot more of a journey to get there.  However, his behavior is more of a guy who’s trying to put things together more than avoid them.  
 
Whenever someone close to anyone dies, one reaction is to take stock of ones life.  Evaluate, see where you stand in this universe.  Dean has always seen himself as a nasty killer, someone who shoots first and asks questions later.  He’s been losing too much though.  He told Frank he’s only hunting because he isn’t leaving his brother alone.  He’s grinning and bearing it for Sam’s sake.  
 
Whatever his motivations for hunting, that isn’t going to stop Dean from looking at his place in this world.  He told Eliot Ness he isn’t sure why he does this anymore.  That means he’s questioning what he’s doing, rather than blinding following.  In “The Slice Girls” he right away acknowledged that drinking out of Bobby’s flask was grief therapy.  It is!  It’s not unhealthy either.  He’s keeping a connection to Bobby and going on in his memory.  He’s accepted his death and slowly moving on.   
 
The most encouraging sign that Dean is trying to find himself again is he went out to a bar to pick up women.  When was the last time he’s done that?  He came close in “Defending Your Life” but that wasn’t intentional.  I still remember him not feeling it all the way back to “My Bloody Valentine.”  He certainly wasn’t doing it in season six when he was pining for Lisa and Ben.  Something inside him has clicked that he does need to get out again and have some fun.  Good for him!  

 
Speaking of good for him, I did delight in FINALLY seeing Dean have a raucous and rough sex scene.  It only took seven seasons!  Talk about sheer joy for a fangirl (not to mention the very first time we’ve gotten full view shirtless from Dean), but it’s nice to see that not only Sam likes it rough.  Looking beyond that fun though (after several re-watches), this is a great step forward for Dean. 
 
I think Dean wants to have fun again, or at least loosen up a little.  Even at the coroner’s when he started making small talk about the great benefits package with being a Fed, it was a clear cut sign of Dean trying to get back to his old ways.  He’s tired of the weight of the world weighing down on him.  Since revenge can’t be in the cards right now (and it so will be someday), he might as well try to be loose.  Yes, some of that also can be attributed to him not caring right now, but it’s progress.    
 
Dean’s instincts aren’t all bad either.  He picked up on the weird signs at Lydia’s pretty quick.  He got into the case, taking on surveillance and following the Amazon women to their home base.  He even tried to navigate Bobby’s files, having defend to his brother in the process that “accidents happen.”  The smile on his face as he replayed the night in his head was pure, classic Dean.  There you are!  

 
Yes, there is the big issue in the end when he didn’t kill Emma.  That was not wrong.  After all, monster or not, she was his kid.  That’s Dean remembering his humanity.  He was right to give her a chance, and I think that if she did attack him, he would have pulled that trigger.  That was the last resort to him though.  He wasn’t there yet. 
 
I do believe this situation was separate from the other times that Dean has frozen recently and not gone for the kill.  It’s very true his head is not entirely in the game yet.  He’s got a way to go before finding his old self.  But in Emma’s case, this was not Amy Pond.  She hadn’t killed yet.  There was still that glimmer of hope.  The fact that Dean is drawing those lines is a very good thing.  
 
I always remember Dean telling Sam in “Jus In Bello” if that’s the way they fight wars he didn’t want to win.  Dean has always drawn a line in acting human, and I think here he was doing the same.  With Amy, she was a monster who killed and would probably do so again.  She crossed that humanity line.  It’s the same reason he let her son live, because he hadn’t crossed that line yet.  He was giving Emma that same benefit of the doubt.  Yes, that benefit was influenced by the fact she was his kid, but that’s okay.    

 
What I found most troubling about Dean’s behavior is that he’s totally clueless over what’s happening to Sam.  He’s so lost in his own grief, lack of enthusiasm for hunting, and trying to find himself that he’s not picking up on the warning signs about his brother.  Oh man there are plenty.  
 
Sam - It All Starts Now
 
This episode will be a marker in terms of Sam’s crumbling.  Sure, there have been the little signs, Leviathan Sam giving us a good picture of what’s in his head in “Slash Fiction,” Bobby and Sam’s talk in “How To Win Friends and Influence Monsters,” and Sam grabbing his hand in “Death’s Door.”  Those have just been tiny breadcrumbs though given to fans that’ve been waiting patiently for the inevitable breakdown.  In “The Slice Girls” I do believe we got a whole slice of bread this time! (I know, weak metaphor).

 
It’s very, very interesting that Sam is the one driving the car this week.  That has been used in the past to symbolize that Sam’s been put in a take charge situation.  The most notable episode I can think of that used this symbolism is “On The Head of A Pin.”  In both cases, Dean was too despondent and tired to care.  There’s a big difference between Sam in that episode though and Sam in this one.  In OTHOAP (oh yes, I’m acronyming it!) Sam was building his power and confidence, albeit channeling some really dark forces.  He took on the role of caretaker for both of them because he had too.  He didn’t think Dean was strong enough.  
 
In “The Slice Girls” Sam finds himself in the same position, but this time he’s just about spent all that inner strength he has.  He’s fighting inner dark forces instead of embracing them.  The extra responsibility is forcing him out of his very strict self maintenance window.  Caring for himself is hard enough, but having to cover Dean’s back now is proving to be too much for him.  We are just starting to learn what happens when things start to spill out of that umbrella of crazy he’s got going.  

 
Sam desperately needs hunting.  He desperately needs his brother to be by his side, both with their heads fully in the game.  It’s the only true reality he has left.  If anything else strays or seeps away from that structure, that thread he’s hanging onto will snap.  Just look at the opening scene.  Sam is driving, he’s going very fast and he’s clearly focused forward.  Pinpoint.  I do love the symbolism too of Sam’s fast driving.  It’s foreshadowing that he’s careening out of control, and when he does crash he’s going to crash hard.   
 
Even at the coroner’s when Dean tries to have his fun, Sam clearly wants to focus on the case.  This also mirrors his coroner’s visit in “Adventures In Babysitting” when Sam just glared at the vampire joke.  His pinpoint focus isn’t allowing even light moments.  
These are not a good signs.  

 
Another bad sign?  Throughout the case Sam is anxious, agitated, and not very trusting with Dean.  He’s not happy that Dean bails to go to a bar.  He thinks Dean’s obsessing over being dumped by Lydia rather than following an instinct.  He uses the word “obsessed” multiple times and tries to disguise his bitterness with snark.  I love how Dean at the university called him out on that with his comment, “I think you’re enjoying this a little more than you need to.” 
 
Sam tries to stay all business with the case but we get to see through some of his cracks.  He’s agitated when trying to talk with Dean on the phone about the new facts of the case.  When the facts of the Amazon women surface, he takes a moment to lecture Dean about “rolling the dice” on a one night stand.  Sure, Dean probably had that coming, but Sam in the past has usually been calmer and more forgiving of Dean’s mistakes.  
 
The scene that gets me the most though is when they’re in the motel room and the papers magically move.  Sam’s on board at first, even hopeful, getting out the EMF reader.  Once he figures out though that EMF is everywhere, they’re near power lines, and the window is open that’s enough doubt for his to shut it down.  Dean goes with the flask theory but Sam won’t even entertain the idea. 

 
Sam:  Concentrate on something else.
Dean:  Why?  
Sam:  Because it’s not Bobby.
Dean:  It could be.
Sam:   No it couldn’t be.
Dean:  Why not?
Sam:  Because we want it to be.
 
Sam isn’t exactly calm when he has this conversation with Dean.  He’s on edge and looks like he’s about to lose it.  He just can’t wrap his head around theories right now or wild hopes.  They’ve been disappointed too much, and he is grasping on too tight to his basis for reality.  If that doesn’t exist, then he’ll start to lose grip on everything else.  He can’t get his hopes up anymore. 
 
If Sam frantically rushing back to save Dean (after an unfortunate encounter with the blonde detective who’s really an Amazon that breaks his phone), doesn’t raise red flags, I don’t know what will.  He’s driving very fast, passing slower cars, running red lights, etc.  His body language says it all.  If he lost Dean, he loses everything.  Nothing else matters.  He also doesn’t have confidence in Dean right now to pull that trigger.  That feeling that Dean’s head isn’t in the game has been the elephant in the room that Sam hasn’t wanted to bring up for the last few episodes.  He’s expressed his disappointment instead through attitude and clever remarks (Dick Roman anyone?).  
 
The back and forth in the motel room is all nonverbal, but it speaks volumes (damn I love it when they do that!)  Dean is already talking with Emma when Sam arrives, holding the gun on her but not firing.  Sam gives Dean a minute outside, but he sees Dean continues to talk, giving Emma the shot to walk away.  He crashes in with his gun pointed, giving Dean one more chance to pull the trigger.  When Dean doesn’t, especially after Emma gives a false plea, Sam doesn’t hesitate in shooting her.  No more opportunities.  Dean is stunned.  Sam remains strong. Dean is saddened, Sam cannot understand why Dean couldn't do it.  Dean is not happy, even if he knows it was right.  Yes, I love interpreting the volumes that are spoken with all that nonverbal language.  


 
Ending Scene

The fallout all happens in the car.  This closing scene absolutely breaks my heart.  If this doesn’t paint a complete picture of Sam and Dean’s varying mental states right now, nothing will.  Sam’s driving again, and driving very fast.  He’s not speaking until Dean pushes the issue.  Sam is clearly angry and frustrated.  How can he giving Amy the benefit of the doubt not count but Dean giving Emma that chance be allowed?  Sam knows the answer is “kill the monster.”  Did Dean?  
 
Dean said he would have, Sam didn’t believe he would.  Who do you believe?  I believe Dean actually.  He would have done the right thing if he was pushed.  Sam has good reason to believe Dean wouldn’t though.  Sam’s been doing all the kills lately, watching Dean freeze during the action.  Sam’s “she wasn’t yours” speech mirrors Dean’s speech to Sam of “it wasn’t you” after the tragic events in “Unforgiven.”  Too much grey area to consider in a short span of time.  The on the spot decisions aren’t always easy.  
 
Sam finally makes his reservations known.  “Bobby was right.  Your head’s not in it man.  When Cas died you were wobbly but now...”  Yeah, what about now? Dean says,  “You’re just screwed up as I am, just bigger.”  That couldn’t be farthest from the truth.  Sam is way more screwed up than Dean.  Dean just can’t see it right now.  When he eventually does, it’s not going to be pretty.  

 
“Don’t get killed.”  Sam’s plea is simple and heartfelt and not what Dean wants to hear.  Dean claims he’ll do what he can.  “It means I’ll do what I can.  You can shut up about it.”  That correlates with his statement that they’ll get the Amazon women when they surface next time, “...if we live that long.”  Does Dean want to die?  I think he’s accepted that he can at any moment, just like Bobby, and he’s too tired to fight it.  Something will get him eventually.  That makes him passive, but probably not suicidal.  
 
So, to sucker punch us one more time, the closing closeup on Sam shows in heart breaking fashion Sam’s current place.  He’s really scared.  Without Dean, he has no chance.  Stone number one is beginning to crumble.  Yes, I got weepy.  

 
The Bigger Picture
 
What did I take away from “The Slice Girls?”  I’m not so worried about Dean and my stomach is in knots for Sam.  What’s even worse is Dean doesn’t even see how bad Sam is crumbling.  Chances are that WHEN (oh yeah, the signs are there) Sam has his big crash, it’s going to take Dean by surprise.  I do wonder how he’ll deal with it.
 
What’s bothersome though is Sam and Dean are dealing with their grief in different ways and not in tune with how the other is really hurting.  At this point, they’d die for each other, but they’re not close to being on the same page.  
 
The Other Stuff
 
In focusing on the character study, I didn’t really paint a good picture of what I thought of the episode overall.  As I said before I really liked it the melting of the MOTW while finally moving forward the character arcs a little, but this episode was lacking some fun.  Oh yes, there was the bombastic sex scene brilliantly mixed with the gruesome and very gory murder (those Amazon women have some flair) but that could only lift the episode so far.  I really felt the struggle of both Sam and Dean this time, and as emotionally compelling as their struggles are, they’re also completely depressing.  I’m still looking for something uplifting, something that’s going to give these guys hope and a purpose.  Seeing where their characters are going though, I doubt that will happen anytime soon. 
 
The car they had, if anyone is interested, is a 1971 Buick Riveria.  It’s known for it’s “boat tail” back end.  That car sticks out worse than the Impala!  It always floors me that Dean thinks he can get away with sneaky surveillance in a car like that.  

 
 
This episode marked the directorial debut of Jerry Wanek, long time co-producer for “Supernatural.”  His claims to fame have been the often outrageous and wildly creative set designs.  He is the master of the tacky motel rooms.  I think he did an outstanding job with “The Slice Girls” going for some very fun angles with the camera.  He had fun with extreme closeups for sure as Dean and Lydia were connecting in the bar.  Here’s a few of my favorite shots though:  



 
Overall grade of “The Slice Girls,” a B.  A vast improvement over Eugenie Ross Leming and Brad Buckner’s prior stinky scripts of “Shut Up Dr. Phil” and “Route 666.”  All I want to see now before things get really heavy is Sam get beat up by some clowns.  Yeah, I’m sick like that.  

  

Comments  

Mieke Trudeau
# Mieke Trudeau 2012-02-08 01:55
Great review. I have been less unhappy with season 7 than you have been, I believe, but I have shared many of your concerns about the lack of arc and focus. This episode made it all click for me! I all of a sudden see the thread, the way it is connecting and a path ahead. Something I have been missing before now. This whole season is about this inner journey of the boys. That is why all the external stuff (i.e. people, car etc) is being stripped away. It has been very subtle, maybe too subtle and decidedly dark and depressing, but it is there. It was quite a revelation for me and quite a relief. I am looking forward to what lies ahead and am hopeful for another season. Thank you for your words and for sharing your Nashcon experiences with us.
rmoats8621
# rmoats8621 2012-02-08 01:59
Hey, Alice! This was a great review. I'm glad you liked the episode, too. Boy have I hit the rewind button on the DVR to see those scenes of Dean and Lydia. They were HOT! :D

Just curious...Did the bar scene remind you a little of Heart? It reminded me of that episode...which til this day is one of my favorites. :lol:

In regards to this episode, the writers have come a long way and I feel that they're finally understanding what Dean and Sam are all about. They definitely did a much better job on this story than their previous two...although Dean's love scene in Route 666 wasn't all that bad! It seems that these two writers are the only ones that have written about Dean going all the way except for Kripke in Heaven and Hell with Anna.

Overall, I give this episode a B+. I liked it, but didn't love it.(except for the gory scenes and that HOT scene) Oh, and to tie this episode into my theory...Dean got another thing checked off his list...He became a biological father even though it didn't work out as I think he knew it wouldn't.

On to clowns....Boy, my daughter is not looking forward to this one. She's never liked them and has hated them since seeing the movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space. In that regards, I agree with her. That's one gross movie! ;-)
NOLANOLA
# NOLANOLA 2012-02-08 02:06
EMMA WAS NOT, NOT DEANS KID. THE M.E. SAID THAT THE CHUNK OF FLESH HAD NO HUMAN DNA. HE IS JUST A MEANS TO AN END.

THIS ALSO HAPPENED ON ANGEL WITH CORDY.

BUY I MUST SAY I LOVED THE WAY DEAN AND SAM PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND THE SMILE AND THEN FEAR ON DEANS FACE. PRICELESS
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2012-02-08 10:31
You brought a new dimension for me on this episode. This is why I love this site, so many divergent views of the same episode, it allows us to catch on to things we don't necessarily see the first time round.

I don't think Dean is suicidal, I think he has made his peace with dying on the job though. And that's what is worrying Sam the most. He knows that without Dean, he will be lost. That thread he's hanging onto is very close to breaking, and when it does, it's not going to be pretty.
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2012-02-08 13:49
Alice, you've opened my eyes. My biggest irk with this season has been the total lack of any HellDamage on Sam. The season started out so strong and then just sloped downhill with so little hints about Sams mental state. I was afraid they've taken the SoullessSam route aka pushing things a bit too far for too long. Allthough I would have liked to see some slips or signs that all is not well sooner, I'm very happy that this episode came along. And your review :)

See, I've been such a gloomygus about the brothers and their relationship (and their characterizatio ns even, but that's the writers who I'm looking at) that I skipped over all the signs that you so geniously have pointed out here. Sometimes, I need a review that can open my eyes and put to words the thoughts that are roaming around in my head. You have done that Alice, so thank you. You have brought some of the love back that I thought I'd lost.

I hope the season will get better from here on. Atleast my attitude has shifted and into a good direction, and that's a good thing.

This review was very spot on and excellent. Great job!
Airbat
# Airbat 2012-02-08 15:01
Hi Alice. great review. I am a little concerned that I seem to have missed all the "Sam"-signs you pointed out and only in retrospect I might see it as you do.
It can only be because of two reasons a) I am not paying attention anymore after being dissappointed to often this year or b) the writing wasn't that clear for everyone to pick it up on the first sight. Anyway, if this are the first signs I am glad about them, even if I missed them. As we all know Sam is about to crash in 7.17 and we don't have many episodes left until then. My biggest fear was that they just abruptly turn Sam's storyline on again (like they seem to have stopped it in 7.03). I'd wished they ease us back in and actually show us some of that crumbling before it actually happens. Sick as is may sound, but I wanted to see his suffering so I could feel bad for Sam.
At the moment I can emphasize with Dean, because I saw his suffering and downward spiral over all this episode right to his lethargic state he's in right now. I cringed at the drinking, I wanted to hug him when he was desperate and sometimes even wanted to Gibbs-slap him over the head. What ever the feeling was...point is, I always had a kind of feeling towards Dean. I have problems to do the same with Sam. All I saw up till now (aside a little hand rubbing) is that Sam is doing fine, Sam is calm, Sam is capable of working, Sam is fine. So I just can't emphasize with his feelings of hell in his head because I never get to see it - even if my logic mind tells me that I should.
Bevie
# Bevie 2012-02-08 15:07
I loved your review Alice! The relationship issues of both the brothers was spot on with mine. I've not been disappointed with this season so far, and have been sad when reading reviews that put the show down when I was enjoying it myself. We don't all see things the same way, do we?

As for the writers, I thought they have always portrayed the brothers very well, especially in this one and the much hated Route 666. The evil truck was not the best MOTW but the brotherly banter and teasing and Sam realizing that Dean actually loved Cassie was done very well and I never get tired of the brotherly parts of that episode. (or the love scene for that matter) :-*

I'm sure Dean would have certainly shot Emma if Sam had not shown up and she continued to threaten him. No doubt at all.

Loved the way Dean caught on to Lydia and kept on their track. I guess he couldn't miss the clue of the baby talking like an adult. Something HAD to be up! Sad that Sam thought Dean's marbles were missing.

They both want Bobby to be near but Sam is in denial about that as he has lost hope and Dean is his LAST hope, and losing him would be the end of Sammy. I feel so bad for Sam. I want them both to find a little joy in their life and in their job again. Let them have some real laughs and smiles again some time soon? (God, I miss Bobby!) :cry:
francie1
# francie1 2012-02-08 15:09
Hi Alice I'm new to your site and I have to say it was your wonderful revues which hooked me completely. I have watched Supernatural from day one and love it. Thanks to your fantastic website and writers I can't believe how much of the show I've been missing. It's like, Hey, I didn't catch that! Wow, how did I miss that! When I rewatch Slice Girls (and I will, many, many time) its with a new perspective each time. You do a great job. Thanks!

By the way, this is the first time I've commented on the web on ANYTHING! See what you've done? LOL
Alice
# Alice 2012-02-08 23:58
I love reading comments from first time commenters! It's quite a rush, isn't it? Welcome to the site, and I'm so pleased to read you enjoyed the episode (and our reviews).

There's just something about this one that had way more than it appeared. It makes for a challenging but fun review. I also think it's going to be a big setup for what's to come.

I hope you choose to comment more in the future!
Sharon
# Sharon 2012-02-08 15:18
Thank you for the review Alice. It hasnt changed my mind I think the writers have done a very poor job for Sam this season and that we shouldnt of needed to be searching for signs he is not ok but your reviews are always interesting and good to read.
My feelings towards the show more than likely wont change but I do want to start watching again so thats something.
Karen
# Karen 2012-02-08 15:27
Hi Alice
I really liked this episode, I found it very intense and captivating.
I also found this to be very focused on the brother’s emotional and mental state.

Sam seemed so erratic and desperate at times, like he was really struggling to keep it together.
I can see why Sam chose not to believe that the spirit of Bobby was with them. He’s barely able to distinguished what is real as it is, never mind adding in the possibility of Bobby’s ghost hanging around. This would have him always having to question whether it was Bobby’s spirit or a Lucifer hallucination that did something. And imagine the mind games that Lucifer would play on him if he was to believe Bobby’s spirit was is in the picture?
His plea to Dean not to die really got to me, I took this as his cry for help.

I’m so glad you thought Dean might be getting a little better. I too saw some reminisce of the old Dean in this episode, but I thought maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part to see our Cheeky Badass Hero again. BTW was it just me or did Jensen look very young throughout this episode, especially during the sex scene.

All season I have been picturing both brothers standing side by side on the edge of a cliff, each with an out stretched arm across the others chest desperately trying to stop the other from either jumping or falling, meanwhile fighting not to either jump or fall themselves. I long for the day when they find their inner strength to help each other climb their way off the cliff’s edge.
Ginger
# Ginger 2012-02-08 16:58
Nice review, Alice. I'm of two minds on Dean; either he goes the way you see him going and gets better, or he spirals down further and flips out. The interesting thing that you brought out is that, although both brothers worked the case out in their own way, Dean was actually two steps ahead of Sam on this one once he got engaged. That could mean he's getting better, or it could mean that no matter where Dean is at in his head, his hunter instincts are always there.

Whichever way Dean ends up going, I think Dean does know that Sam is no better off than he is. I think part of Dean's problem is that he knows Sam is screwed up and he knows that this time he can't fix it.

I found Sam the same as you did, except I think that since Sam is seeing hellucinations all the time, he thinks Dean's drinking and seeing things is causing Dean to do the same thing about Bobby. And I don't think for one minute that it is Bobby's ghost that is being foreshadowed. I think it's Cas. I'm really curious about that aspect of the season.

This season has been so much better than S6. We know what the mytharc is, although they haven't gotten to that part of the story. We know what Sam is going through, and there is really no mystery to that. We know Dean is spiraling, and that may or may not be wrapping up right now, but his arc is somehow connected to the mytharc, and I am curious about that.

It could be that something Dean does or something that happens to Dean is the trigger that sets off Sam's breakdown. I am curious about that, too.

Where you see Dean not realizing how bad off Sam is, I kind of think that one thing that both of the arcs are doing this season is to show that despite the brothers not being emotionally together, I believe this episode made it clear that Sam is just as co-dependent on Dean as Dean is on Sam. By that I mean, Sam thinks Dean is cracking up because he's drinking too much and seeing things, and this is why he's freaking out. And Sam is literally the only thing Dean has left in his life. Dean has to find some reason to be doing what he is doing other than Sam, because he is waiting for the other shoe to drop with Sam. After all, it always does.

It was a depressing episode and I am impatient to get to some action and at least a hint of a win. Overall, though, with the exception of the Becky episode and the brothers being comic relief in the Dr. Phil episode, I am liking the S7. I believe Sam meeting his greatest fear, clowns, this week is foreshadowing for him to overcome that and take his Luci hellacinations head-on.
emm
# emm 2012-02-09 00:18
I agree with you, Ginger. I think he, more than anyone, is uniquely qualified to understand how hell can damage a person. After all, he clearly never fully recovered, so I doubt he believes he can really do anything to help Sam, especially when neither of them are in a place where they can confront their own issues, let alone each other's. He's simply waiting for the shoe to drop with Sam, as we know it inevitably will (not that this is Sam's fault, but it's the nature of things that he's not going to be able to keep the circus under the tent forever).

I also agree that the boys' emotional distance from each other is a big obstacle this season. They're both in such a bad place they really can't help each other, and I remain unsure of what's going to turn that around. If Sam is sliding down, he can't help Dean, which means Dean has to find a way on his own to fix himself, which is no easy task. Poor Sam. Poor Dean.
Gwen
# Gwen 2012-02-08 17:56
What a wonderful review, Alice. Thank you so much. It was a breath of fresh air to come here and read the fabulously empathetic and sympathetic reviews and comments from folk here towards Sam. Poor Sam really is beginning to fall apart. As someone who's been not so patiently waiting for such signs since 7.02, I was quite giddy with excitement after this episode. He looked so scared in that last scene, if he loses Dean he really will be utterly and completely lost. And no wonder Sam refused to consider Bobby being around as a ghost; reality is an ever present problem for him, he has to concentrate on the visible and the concrete, he can't let himself start to consider things that might or might not be.
I also took the episode as a sign that Dean is recovering, albeit slowly and this also makes me a very happy camper. I really want the badass hero Dean back.
trinaaron
# trinaaron 2012-02-08 20:34
I too think the cracks are starting to show with regards to Sam. Any mention of Bobby seemed to make him agitated, and his fear of losing Dean was palpable.

I'm not exactly sure where Dean's head is, but your argument that Dean going to a bar the way he did is a sign that he may be on the upswing makes a lot of sense.
MisterGlass
# MisterGlass 2012-02-08 20:37
Insightful review, Alice.

My initial reaction to this episode was not very favorable, because I didn't think the MOTW added much.

Once I began to see past it, however, I realized how impressive a look at the brothers' states of mind this was. Both are in trouble.

Dean is still clearly depressed. As you said, he has been struggling since at least "My Bloody Valentine". He has still had goals to work toward though: saving the world, protecting Ben and Lisa, getting back Sam's soul. I have felt that since he broke with Lisa in "You Can't Handle the Truth", and since Sam's soul was returned, he has been wandering. Dean always wanted a family after having lost his mother, and being as much a soldier as a son of his father. But everytime he comes close to that, he loses it. He lost Ben and Lisa, Cas, Bobby, and has been on the verge with Sam too many times. The Leviathans, Sam's wall, and Amy just pushed him farther.

This episode still felt numb, but Dean's commitment to following Frank's advice actually does seem to be helping. Dean is still lost, but he does not seem suicidal. He's starting to deal with what his life is going to be. I do not think he's out of danger, though.

Sam scared me. Dean was despairing, but Sam was desperate, especially when he burst in and shot Emma. It was the right thing to do, and I'm glad Dean didn't have to do it. I think Dean would have, but not until the last possible moment.

However, I had flashbacks to Sam shooting Jake, and killing Alastair, and Lilith. He can't go on this way.
Sweet
# Sweet 2012-02-08 22:18
I think the writing for Sam this season has been so subtle as to be almost nonexistent. Viewers are stuck playing guessing games while seeing nothing substantial and while not getting it laid out as a real season long story. They did this to Sam in season 4, also. When Sam needs the writers to be in his corner the most, the writers abandon him, and the audience.

That being said, I thought this script had more real brother and brotherly moments in it than almost the entire season before it. Finally, the brothers were talking about their lives in a real way. Real drama instead of the usual drama avoidance.

I thought Sam was very professional in this episode, very much the Hunter. He was hugely protective of Dean, just like he always is, and has been since season 2 at the very least.


My disappointment with Dean this season is that not only does he fail to notice if Sam really doing all that well (and because of the writing, Sam looks more fine than Dean in basically every episode since episode 3), but he's not once even asked Sam in a kind and decent way, how he's doing and holding up. Sam said he wasn't okay at the end of AIS, and Dean didn't care that Sam was not okay; he cared more about practicing fake smiles. I haven't liked Dean at all this season, and that is my sad truth for the show right now. Did I really have to wait all the way up to episode 14 or 15 to see Dean care about his own brother, while Sam gets no emotional credit at all for bearing Dean up all this time, at his own expense as well? What about the great weight on Sam's Shoulders? Are we not supposed to notice it ever, that it's the same weight Dean carries?
emm
# emm 2012-02-08 22:53
I agree that Sam's story has been shorted this season. I am a Dean fan, and I have to admit I was clearly at a loss as to why Sam was behaving the way he was this episode. Sam has been written as just fine, so I didn't understand why he was suddenly so dismissive and angry (IMO) of Dean throughout much of the episode. I was grateful to see Alice's article, because it did explain things for me very well. It really made me see things from Sam's perspective, and it made me sympathize with him more.

I have to ask, and I don't mean to be flippant or arugmentative-- When has Sam been bearing Dean up at his own expense this season? Don't get me wrong--I genuinely believe Sam loves and is concerned about his brother, but I have mostly seen Sam watch Dean self-destruct feeling helpless, due to the maginitude of Dean's issues and the weight of his own. And I don't blame Sam a bit for that, because he has so much to deal with. But at the same time, I don't understand why, if you admit that Dean is carrying the same weight, he is somehow supposed to throw it off and ignroe it when Sam isn't able to battle beyond his issues to truly help Dean? Again, I am just trying to understand. As for Dean not caring about his own brother, I'm afraid we will have to agree to disagree.

I think the biggest problem for me between the brothers this season is the emotional distance. Yes, they are together physically, but they clearly aren't relying on each other for emotional support. They're both holding back from the other, and while both are clearly concerned about the other, neither is able to take a step to truely bridge the gap. I'm not sure what is going to change that at this point.

Still, thank you for the article, Alice. I enjoyed it.
Sharon
# Sharon 2012-02-09 02:23
Quote:
I think the writing for Sam this season has been so subtle as to be almost nonexistent. Viewers are stuck playing guessing games while seeing nothing substantial and while not getting it laid out as a real season long story. They did this to Sam in season 4, also. When Sam needs the writers to be in his corner the most, the writers abandon him, and the audience.

That being said, I thought this script had more real brother and brotherly moments in it than almost the entire season before it. Finally, the brothers were talking about their lives in a real way. Real drama instead of the usual drama avoidance.

I thought Sam was very professional in this episode, very much the Hunter. He was hugely protective of Dean, just like he always is, and has been since season 2 at the very least.


My disappointment with Dean this season is that not only does he fail to notice if Sam really doing all that well (and because of the writing, Sam looks more fine than Dean in basically every episode since episode 3), but he's not once even asked Sam in a kind and decent way, how he's doing and holding up. Sam said he wasn't okay at the end of AIS, and Dean didn't care that Sam was not okay; he cared more about practicing fake smiles. I haven't liked Dean at all this season, and that is my sad truth for the show right now. Did I really have to wait all the way up to episode 14 or 15 to see Dean care about his own brother, while Sam gets no emotional credit at all for bearing Dean up all this time, at his own expense as well? What about the great weight on Sam's Shoulders? Are we not supposed to notice it ever, that it's the same weight Dean carries?
People dont see it and why should they the writing has never allowed them to .Deans life and issues is something we have all been privy to. Sam is hidden behind Deans pov or some mytharc mystery and even now when he does crack somebody we all know returns .Every season they do this with Sam why what is necessary about it? . Not only that but when they did bother Sam was either selfish or wrong .
What put me off this season is that yet again Deans problems took centre stage( I dont blame Dean for that )while Sam is something going on in the background dealing with something far worse and a audience cant relate or care for a character like that.

Alices review has put a different view on Sam this episode but Alice cares about Sam to do it to look deeper and go beyond the surface , how many general fans even those who dont come online will do that? they will go by what they see .
lala2
# lala2 2012-02-09 06:33
Really good post!

I don't dislike Dean this season, but I am sick of his angst, emo attitude. The writers need to move on from that plot.

And I also agree that the "signs" w/Sam are far too subtle! If it weren't for me reading spoilers and knowing Sam is headed for a breakdown, I don't think I would suspected anything other than Sam is sad about Bobby's death. Sam seemed quick to anger and very concerned about Dean at the end, but he still didn't seem to be falling apart to me. The writing for Sam is pretty much awful, IMO. As you said, since 7.03, Sam has seemed perfectly find and functional to me.

I do have a problem w/the writers not having Dean ask Sam more about how Sam's coping. They honestly and truly broke up the season - so much so that Dean is solely focused on himself now b/c it's Dean's arc. Sam has to share his arc - if it even lasts that long - w/Castiel, so is that when Dean will suddenly be concerned about Sam and how he's coping?

I'm not slamming Dean. I'm slamming the writers for this disconnected, awful writing and direction. And as you said, Sam lost all the same people Dean did! It's like the show doesn't even consider that. How can I sympathize w/Dean when Sam's supposedly hallucinating on a daily and functioning okay. All that does is make me want to slap Dean and tell him to snap out of it. If they had told both brother's stories at the SAME time, there wouldn't be this disconnect.
Cindy
# Cindy 2012-02-09 11:10
There have been a few instances where Dean has asked Sam how he's coping. Earlier in the season when Dean asked, Sam said he was doing fine. Just a couple of episodes ago, Dean asked and Sam said he was not doing fine. So Dean knows that Sam's not doing well. There's just nothing he can do about it. And when Sam finally has his breakdown, I don't think there's going to be anything Dean can do about it.

So my question is, what do people want Dean to do? He's shown concern, he's asked how Sam's doing. Not in every episode, but he's asked. And even if he were to ask every episode, he'd continue to get the same answer.

Sam also knows that Dean's not doing so well. But there's nothing he can do about it. I don't blame Sam for not being able to help Dean. Why does it seem like people are blaming Dean for Sam's issues?

I get that people are unhappy with the way the Sam's story is progressing. That's fine. But I've seen on a number of sites, people taking out their frustrations on Dean. Belittling Dean, saying he doesn't care about Sam, implying that he's whiny, selfish, self-absorbed.

There have been many times where Dean has put aside his issues to be there for Sam. Maybe Dean's at a point where he just can't ignore his issues any longer. Maybe he needs to take a look at himself, question why he hunts, do a little soul-searching in order to once and for all move past some of his issues.

The writers seem to be finally going somewhere with Dean, as far as his issues are concerned. My hope is that Dean's soul-searching finally allows him to start to heal. It's been a long time coming.
Sharon
# Sharon 2012-02-09 11:36
Quote:
There have been a few instances where Dean has asked Sam how he's coping. Earlier in the season when Dean asked, Sam said he was doing fine. Just a couple of episodes ago, Dean asked and Sam said he was not doing fine. So Dean knows that Sam's not doing well. There's just nothing he can do about it. And when Sam finally has his breakdown, I don't think there's going to be anything Dean can do about it.

So my question is, what do people want Dean to do? He's shown concern, he's asked how Sam's doing. Not in every episode, but he's asked. And even if he were to ask every episode, he'd continue to get the same answer.

Sam also knows that Dean's not doing so well. But there's nothing he can do about it. I don't blame Sam for not being able to help Dean. Why does it seem like people are blaming Dean for Sam's issues?

I get that people are unhappy with the way the Sam's story is progressing. That's fine. But I've seen on a number of sites, people taking out their frustrations on Dean. Belittling Dean, saying he doesn't care about Sam, implying that he's whiny, selfish, self-absorbed.

There have been many times where Dean has put aside his issues to be there for Sam. Maybe Dean's at a point where he just can't ignore his issues any longer. Maybe he needs to take a look at himself, question why he hunts, do a little soul-searching in order to once and for all move past some of his issues.

The writers seem to be finally going somewhere with Dean, as far as his issues are concerned. My hope is that Dean's soul-searching finally allows him to start to heal. It's been a long time coming.
Dont you think that focus on Sams issues are long over due? we have been dealing with Deans issues pretty much since season 2 and although if that is the case the writers finally move Dean past them (although it isnt something I would expect) the point or problem is some have is that what Sam is dealing with this season is on different scale than Deans depression. Now while I have no problem with the writers dealing with Deans problems again it has meant Sam has not had the focus he needed considering what he is coping with. Maybe to some it is making Dean look self absorbed and caught up in his own world and that is why he is getting that accusation .


For me my hope was this season was for Sam to finally after so many seasons with no mytharc in the way that his issues would get a pov. That in putting Sam through all that they have, that it would be a priority rather than a side issue to Deans pain .IMO Sam this time is dealing with too much for it to of been so vague and detatched this year. I know not everybody will agree and thats ok but after season 4 and onwards Sam doesnt have a in built sympathy or understanding with the audience that Dean has and more than ever now he deserves and needs that. I am not sure writing his story this way will give him that .
Cindy
# Cindy 2012-02-09 12:47
We've been dealing with both brothers' issues since season 1, not just Dean's. I don't worry about the writers dealing with Sam's hell issues, because I figure that the writers will deal with them the second half of the season. They've been giving us hints and clues that all is not right with Sam, and I'm sure he's headed for a breakdown.

I guess I'm just happy to see Dean finally dealing with some of his issues, because he usually ignores them, so he can deal with saving the world, saving people, or saving Sam. All last season, Dean dealt with everything but his own issues.
Brynhild
# Brynhild 2012-02-09 19:44
Quote:
Sam doesnt have a in built sympathy or understanding with the audience that Dean has
Don't know, maybe it's because I see very much of myself in Sam, but I never had a problem in figuring out which his issues or motivations or fears or pov were. When there were contrasts between him and Dean, I could understand BOTH their pov, BOTH their reasons. In S1 and 2 I could feel his fear to be "different" from "normal" all along his struggle to be different from his family (=John). I S3 I could see his fear to lose Dean, his progressive slip on the road of the compromise, of "the ends that justify the means", his desperation in thinking his future without the one person who was really "family". In S4 I could understand all his motivations, the mixed feelings of revenge, pride, need to be the master of his own life, the fear that Dean could see him differently not only for what he was doingg, but for what he WAS, the will to help his brother to cope with his post-hell issues and the exasperation for not knowing how to do it, that resulted in his accusations to Dean of being "too weak" (never dealt with somenone depressed? never been so frustrated, because you just don't seem to be able to help him/her in ANY way, that sometime you just would like to yell at him/her of just quitting to whine?) and his decission to do "what was necessary". All along S5 I could sense his growing desperation and rage in feeling himself trapped in an (apparently) inevitable destiny, doomed to it by his "curse" or "disease", I could feel his need of "redemption", I could feel his need to be trusted again by Dean, his resignation to his "freakiness" and in his last request to Dean I could recognize him trusting his long lost hope of normalcy to his brother.

I never had a problem in empathize or sympathize with him, even when I didn't approve his choices, because I could see from where they came.

Maybe I projected too much of myself on him? Maybe I was seeing what just wasn't there? Maybe I imagined all of this?
NOLANOLA
# NOLANOLA 2012-02-09 01:29
I THINK EVERYONE IS MISSING THE POINT.

LET IT BE KNOWN I BUY EVERY DVD ON THE TUESDAY THAT IT IS AVAILABLE. yes angels on twitter, it matters 1st week buys.

YAL ARE MISSING THE BIG PICTURE! YES SAM AND DEAN ARE GOING DOWN. BUT REMEMBER IT IS FOR A REASON.

THEY ARE LEARNING HOW TO DEPEND UPON THEMSELVES.
OLD MAYBE, BUT IT SEEMS TO MATTER TO THE WRITERS THAT IT BE KNOWN.

JENSEN HAS MENTIONED THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE OUT FOR THE BROTHERS, THE THELMA AND LOUISE OUT, OR TO SAY, GOING OUT SWINGING, OR DYING OF THEIR OWN
CHOISE !!

B4 THIS IS OVER HOWEVER WE DO NEED ANSWERS!! YES I SAID IT !!!! ANSWERS PEOPLE, writers, DONT LEAVE US HANGING IF THIS IS THE LAST SEASON.

YES I AGREE WITH ALICE AND HER KNOWING OF THE BROTHERS AND ALL THINGS UN-BALANCED! THAT IS HER JOB. SHE DOES SO WELL =D

THANKS FANDOM. I HAVE QUIT EVERYTHING EXCEPT WINFAMLY BUSINESS. =D

THANKS TO RHONDA MOATES FOR SAYING KUDOS FOR ME SAYING AGITATORS NEEDED TO CLEAN THE WASH. THANK YOU GINGER FOR ALWAYS SAYING WHAT SOME OF US FEEL.

THIS SITE KEEPS ME GOING. I HAVE STOPPED TWITTER TO AN EXTENT, ALWAYS MONITORING, BUT HOPE TO ALWAYS BE WELCOMED HERE AT MY FIRST AND ONLY SITE.

BLESS YAL, ALICE AND STAFF. =D =)))))
Ginger
# Ginger 2012-02-09 10:31
You're welcome, Nolanola. I don't think this is the last season. In fact, it is not unrealistic that the show will go longer than that. We should thank our stars that the show is on the CW and hope that station is able to continue. The new president seems to be making some good financial decisions for the station.
Brynchild
# Brynchild 2012-02-09 10:43
I agree that we have been watching too little from Sam's POV this season (and the last), so is very difficult imagine what's going on inside his head, how messy it is.

But, as far as this episode is concerned, I could see ALL the signs Alice described in her review BEFORE Alice wrote this review (you can read my comment to Sofia's review). And this is from a "Deangirl" (in fact, I'm a "bi-bro", but I've got a little more sympathy for Dean). So I'm a little surprised that so many "Samgirls" obviously missed what for me was so blatant. Very curious, indeed.
Ginger
# Ginger 2012-02-09 12:00
I agree with you Brynchild. I thought this episode did extremely well in showing where both brothers are at. I'll just throw out there that I am always mystified to hear people don't think Sam's side hasn't been well-covered all throughout S1 thorugh S6.

Sam's story has been a little light this season, but not missing, and I still think that's because it is not connected with the mytharc in any way and probably won't be, since Jared is going to be taking a lighter workload as the season draws to a close.

I also expect to see Sam deal with his greatest fear; clowns, and then he'll confront his biggest problem; Luci in his head. That seems like a logical progression to his story this season, but in the end, it all has to come back to something connected to Dean. It always does. With the two of them being so emotionally detached this season, and with it being made pretty clear that Sam is just as co-dependent as Dean is in this episode, that plot can't be left dangling.

It's also about time in the season that they start building a clear plot for the Levi, since Robert Singer said that story would be played out in the final quarter of the season.
rmoats8621
# rmoats8621 2012-02-09 12:13
I agree. Both brothers have had a lot of issues this season that are being explored. It does take time. These issues didn't just suddenly appear and they've been around in some form or another for years. Remember, the writers only have 41-42 mins per episode of air time and usually a MOTW to deal with too. I really dislike all this Samgirl and Deangirl nonsense.
cd28
# cd28 2012-02-09 14:17
Nice review. Your analysis has inspired me to rewatch this episode sometime soon.

Regarding whether Sam and Dean are OK, I wasn't getting a strong vibe on Dean one way or another, but it was hard to miss how on edge Sam was. As I was watching, I was making a connection to season 3, when Sam got very frustrated and angry at Dean because Dean wasn't trying to save himself. Dean was passively suicidal then, and Sam is seeing the same thing happen again.

Sam needs Dean as much as Dean needs Sam, but I don't think Dean has ever accepted that, and it frustrates Sam when he can't get Dean to understand that. Dean's always seen Sam's ways of dealing with things (such as leaving home) as an indication that Sam would be fine without him, which isn't true. When Dean brought Sam back from the dead in season 2 because he couldn't live without him, Dean just assumed that Sam would be fine going on without him. Because of his self-esteem issues, Dean seemed almost blind to how it was affecting Sam. Sam is on the edge now himself and can't be strong for Dean the way he was in season 3, so I understood where the anger was coming from.

But even though I got why Sam was acting how he was, the jumpiness in their characterizatio ns from one episode to the next didn't work for me. I need more consistency and more of a gradual change in their emotional states.
Shelby
# Shelby 2012-02-10 00:01
I think that neither one is capable of helping the other at this point. I also feel that one is not in better shape than the other. I DO, however, suspect that Dean will "buck up" yet again and enough to help Sam when the other shoe drops, because that's what Dean does. It is his prime directive, if you will, and no matter what he's going through he will bury it, again as he always does and has in the past, to help Sam. This is easy to predict, IMO. The more important question to me is will they give us any real resolution to Dean's issues this time around or will they just sweep them under the carpet again and as they've done numerous times already, only to pull it out again when the need arises for something that they can label a "storyline" for Dean. I would be fine with them carrying it over into S8 as long as it looks like we WILL get some kind of real resolution and movement regarding Dean's issues-and whether that resolution/movm ent is triumphant or tragic, if by some slim chance it might lead into a meatier storyline for Dean also in S8, THAT would "make" this season for me. *fingers crossed*
Kelly
# Kelly 2012-02-11 16:02
I have to admit after Plucky's episode the idea the Dean's getting better is looking more likely, which I was sceptical last week. He definitely seemed more like his old self. He even laughed! I wondered what Sam's crashing will do to him, though?
Nitewoman7
# Nitewoman7 2012-02-12 17:40
I really enjoyed this episode and thought the plot was intriguing. I had hope Emma would turn out not becoming an Amazon woman and go to Dean for protection. Would give Dean a reason to live for other than just Sam. He would so be a wonderful father. But Sam killing Emma to save Dean gave him the chance to
understand why Dean had to kill Amy

From Sofia's review