Article Index

One of Supernatural's greatest strengths is its ability to weave a Monster of the Week into the fabric of the overarching season story. "Heart," "Metamorphosis," and "A Very Supernatural Christmas," are all prime examples. "The Slice Girls" is no exception. Inside the grotesque and disturbing story of Amazon women is Dean's story. It's reflected in much of this monster's nature---in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

 

The Winchesters are brought to town in pursuit of a grisly case. Men are being thrown so hard against walls they break them. Their hands and feet are cut off brutally. A bizarre symbol is etched into each of their chests, like a calling card for a serial killer. It's unusual enough to get Sam's attention, and since he's the one driving, that is where they will go next.

They arrive in Seattle and easily settle into routine, posing as FBI agents pursuing a serial killer. Upon talking to the forensics officer, they learn that the flesh found in one of the victim's mouths is an anomaly itself. Dean, who would rather pursue Dick Roman, tries to blow this case off, but Sam quips, "Yeah, uh, "didn"™t match anything human" usually seals the deal for me."

Sam has buried himself in work for awhile now. This episode's monster may not be connected to him as so many have been in the past, but his story shines in this as well. He has thrown himself into the hunt, always moving, always ready for the next case. He cannot stop, or he will find himself facing his own demons.

Much like his brother, he will not talk about or acknowledge the issues that plague him. He may have owned up to them when necessary, but he has taken to avoiding them at all costs. He runs, he works, he hunts, he researches---and lately he drives. Anything to chase off and out run the hallucinations that lay beyond the fringes of his consciousness. It's fascinating how, as an undercurrent, Sam's storyline runs through it like a dark thread.

He expresses frustration, hides his need to work from Dean in quips, such as, "Dude, you're obsessed," or "she gave  you her number?"  Sam may have fessed to his hallucinations, but he feels that he must not burden his brother. So, he works. He chases down the evidence at the forensics lab, talks to the professor, and handles the leg work for much of the basics of the case---all while Dean is caught up in the middle of it.

Essentially, Sam has learned that if he stops moving, he dies. The search for Dick Roman, or any weakness he may have has gone cold, and therefore a determent to Sam's outpacing of his nightmares. It's not much different than Dean's handling of Hell in season 4, a marathon of hunts that string them both out and test tempers.

While Sam is left to research, Dean heads off to the bar. Unlike his difficulties in "Defending Your Life," he lies smoothly and picks up Lydia. They head back to her place and spattered amongst their sex scene are cuts to another victim meeting his untimely end.

Dean, unknowingly, has slept with one of the Amazon women---the very thing they are hunting.

Dean possesses Bobby's flask and holds it dear. He, however, forgets it at Lydia's, and has to go back and retrieve it. A ho hum case for Dean suddenly becomes extremely personal as he enters her home and finds that the woman he spent the night with has a young child. What's even more disturbing is that it seems that this child can speak like an adult. Instantly, Dean's hunter radar goes off, and he focuses on trying to figure out more about Emma.

Emma's short life---a mere three days---reflects Dean's life through a strange prism.

She has no childhood, becomes motherless, endures painful training, and is forced to kill her own father in order to live and become a full member of her tribe. Her death, is also an echo of Dean's.

Emma, due to her monster nature, has no childhood. She will be an adult in a short three day period. While Dean himself is not a monster, nor did he endure such a rapid growth, he too had to become an adult rapidly. He lost his childhood the moment his mother was killed by Azazel and John thrust a baby Sam into his arms. At the tender age of four, he shouldered responsibility for his little brother and the life in a single instant.

As Dean watches over Lydia's house, he watches in shock as a little girl, no longer a baby, is handed from Lydia to two women. The little girl's name is Emma, the same as the baby he saw in the play pen a few hours earlier. He follows them to a building, where Emma is let out and disappears inside. Upon return to Sam, he explains what he saw.

In Emma's scenes, we see her and other girls in a room with two women. One of them is the same woman Dean saw take a then five year old Emma away from Lydia. She states, "On this special night, you join an exceptional family. You are ready to take your places alongside us and learn our traditions."

They are forced to eat a tribute piece of flesh, drink some milk, and most of all, endure a branding that marks them as members of the Amazon tribe. It is their training prior to completing their blood sacrifice and entrance into full adulthood.

It may be brief, but it is a stark reminder of Dean's own upbringing under John. We know that he was aware of hunting and what their father did at a much younger age than Sam. He had to in order to protect his little brother while John went on hunts.

Emma, as she flinches from the brand, is told, "Fight it, Emma. As with all you do, courage is everything.

Dean has often buried his own pain---physical or mental---so that he may finish the current hunt or protect Sam and others.

It isn't until Emma arrives to kill Dean that we learn just how much she reflects him. In her pleadings, she speaks falsehoods about herself, but truths about Dean. The dialogue has taken all of the things he's hiding from"”-childhood, hunting, training, even Hell, and thrusting them into his face in a simple statement: "They stick you in there, and you trust them. It's all you know. And you don't question what they want you to do "“ terrible things. That's why I had to leave. They tortured me."

And yet, they are also falsehoods about Dean---they are the lies he tells himself.

Emma's death also reflects Dean's deal in a startling way.

Comments  

vivian
# vivian 2012-02-09 15:32
Quoting Far Away Eyes:

"Emma's storyline may have ended with her being killed, but that does not have to be Dean's fate. Emma states that “I don't have a choice,” and while that reflects Dean's current mood, he has choices---if he attempts to look for them."

Great review! You know, today, on my way home back from work, I was thinking the same thing (yes, I frequently daydream about Supernatural): even if it doesn't feel like right now, they do have a choice, and I believe they can find a third answer in between "to hunt or not to hunt". Haven't they already found one in the most extreme situation, the Apocalypse? They were given just one scenario, to say or not to say yes to Lucifer and Michael, and the consequences of their choice, but they remain true to themselves and found a third way - their own.

It's the same here: they don't necessarily have to follow the script set forth by John: they don't have to hunt their whole lives and renounce everything afar from it, till they die bloody. This is also, in a way, fight destiny/fate, and they are good at it.

I think once they realise that, they only need to discover what they really want for themselves and fight for it, as long as their fear of having lasting connections (within or outside the hunting world) due to the danger of the hunting life.

And yes, this is my personal wish, because I would hate a fatalistic finale with one, or the two of them, dying, even an heroic death, fighting evil. I would be too much heart broken and I already had a lot of this feeling during all 7 seasons! (and counting). I've already seen they die (several) times - I want my boys heroes and alive and happy!

So, I am watching their journey and their strugle very hopeful for a different end (preferably after season 10), and I would love to see what they will discover inside themselves.

By the way, another thing occured to me: maybe Misha/Castiel will be a psychiatrist that helps Sam with his hellucinations and, at the same time, help Dean out of his depression, especialy concerning Castiel lost/betrayal. What do you think?

Thank you so much for the opportunity to express myself, and get this things out of my chest! I love this site!! I read and love all the reviews.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-02-09 16:00
I am pleased that you liked my take on it.

I remember walking away and letting it settle in my mind, and thinking just how much the MOTW fit Dean's storyline and character so well.

I think you're onto something. They were facing an "either/or" decision in season 5, and instead, they tore up the script and did it THEIR way. Dean has to find that other way to get back on track. I think it's significant that Sam did ALL of the driving in this episode. It's symbolic of the control Dean has ceded in his life to everything around him.

I don't know much about the spoilers as I avoid them, but I do think Cas will play a role in Dean's storyline when he returns.

Thanks for the wonderful comments!
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2012-02-09 15:50
That was a great review. I dearly loved this episode. And yes, you're absolutely right, Emma's speech mirrors Dean's life to a tee! I really liked the young actress playing Emma, I thought she was exceptionaly good. Even though we know as viewers that she is playing on Dean's emotions, she conveys them really well. And I believe Dean would have shot her no matter what, but for a fraction of a second it did look like he would let her walk. Sam is the one who saw both Amazons eyes change, so he knows the evil that is lurking.

I really thought this episode showed off both brothers really well. We know Dean is depressed and drinking a little too much, but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Whereas Sam is just all work, like you said so well, like a shark.

By the way, I loved the gore, it was super creepy.

I'm so looking forward to Friday's episode, looks funny and scary.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-02-09 17:58
I'm glad you liked my take on this one.

It struck me, as I watched a second time especially, that she's the mirror being held up for Dean to gaze into. I think Dean would have followed through. He knew what she was, even if it hit him hard. I think he knew it had to be done, too.

I'm glad you liked the shark analogy. It just seemed to fit Sam right now. He doesn't seem to sit still much this season, and the times we see him do that he ends up talking to Lucifer.

I'm looking forward to clowns and unicorns, too. I bet it'll give me nightmares. I am so with Sam. I hate clowns.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2012-02-09 21:33
Awesome review Far Away Eyes. Your analogies were spot on.

I really liked the idea of Emma reflecting Dean's childhood issues back to him. He summed it all up when he said "Actually, she, uh, she was, really. She just also happened to be a crazy man-killing monster. But, uh, hey. ." He wasn't talking about sharing DNA. He was talking about who he is, how he views himself, the choices he makes and actions he takes.

I am completely confident that Dean would have killed Emma. He was waiting to see what she was going to do next. If she'd made a threatening move, she would have been toast.

To me, he seemed very much in control of the situation. It wasn't until Sam came into the room that he seemed to waver a bit. I think he might have been worried about what Sam was going to do next and that upset his plan of attack a bit.

In a hockey analogy... The goalie was set to stop a straight-on shot, and then the defense deflects the puck and the goalie can't make the save.

I also like that you see Sam's coping mechanism harkening back to Dean's actions in Season 4. Gotta keep moving. In fact, both brothers have adopted the Fake It 'Till You Make It approach, but they're expressing it differently.

I'm another person who saw flashes of old Dean, and even some hope for him in this episode. But my fears for Sam intensified. I felt some of the driving scenes were flashbacks to the Sam who drank the demon blood. One shot was so reminiscent of Sam's face as he drove to save Dean in OTHOAP. I almost thought his eyes were going to go black!

Grief is so complex. We all navigate it differently. It's ironic because it's a time in our life when we probably really need to reach out to each other, but it's just too hard to do.

I think we're finally starting to see Sam crumble, and that's pretty sad.

Thanks!

Pragmatic Dreamer
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-02-09 21:53
I'm glad you liked my take on this episode.

I think you're right. On the surface, it's easy to say that Dean acknowledged Emma as his biological child, but you're right. He was talking about himself and how he sees himself. It breaks my heart, because underneath his bravado, his sarcasm, and his "give 'em hell attitude" is a compassionate and kind man. He is a good person, and he does good in the world. He just needs to see it.

I think you might be right about Dean and killing Emma, too. He wanted to test her, see how long before she made her move, and would pop her one before she could throw him. Dean, unlike the other men in the episode, KNEW what she could and would do. I think he knew the longer she talked, the easier it would be for him to trap her and keep her from succeeding and getting him first.

I just noticed, in a rewatch and connected to the rest of this season, how much Sam is acting like Dean did in season 4---especially when it comes to memories of Hell. He keeps working because if he doesn't he'll have to actually deal with what happened to him in the Cage and he can't. I think you're absolutely right that Sam is crumbling and falling apart. It'll be heartbreaking to watch, but I think he needs to in order to push past it. I only hope that his crisis will give Dean the power to deal with his own issues as well. He needs to face his to help Sam, after all.

Thanks for your wonderful comment!
LEAH
# LEAH 2012-02-09 21:58
I didn't like this episode as much as everyone else did but I did enjoy your review. I sort of got caught up in the idea that there was no satisfactory way to resolve the dark storyline that has played out this year. Your comment about Dean needing to find reasons within himself to go on, not just because of Sam or anyone else, really resonated with me. I'm crazy about this show and look forward to each new episode. Maybe the end of the tunnel isn't so dark! Thanks.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-02-09 22:10
I think Dean will find his way out of his dark hole. He'll have a hard battle, but this is the first time he's ever faced the thought that he should live for himself, not for Sam, not for John, not for the world, not for Bobby, not for the family business, for DEAN. And until he finds whatever THAT is, he will flounder some and it will be dark.

I'm glad I could provide some of that hope for you. I saw it in the way he swiveled instantly and pointed his gun at Emma. If he had intended on dying, there was his chance to let the monster take him out. He didn't take it. That means there's something inside that is giving him drive. He'll pull himself out. I feel confident in that.
purplehairedwonder
# purplehairedwonder 2012-02-10 00:24
Ha, your review really did hit on a lot of the same things my coda did, didn't it? I like that we picked up on the same ideas for the most part, though I hadn't given much thought to Emma reflecting Dean's minimal childhood. It makes sense. I more latched onto the responsibility aspect of what she represented; she was biologically his, yes, but she would never be his like Sam was--and continues to be.

And I'm in complete agreement with where Sam is at this point--keep running to outpace the demons and when he stops, that's when they'll catch up and take him down. I see Sam as the type of person who's always, in one way or another, been on the move. He fled the family business (to Flagstaff, to Stanford), he left Dean to find answers about his powers in "Hunted," he left Dean to find himself at the beginning of season 5, etc. That seems to be a consistent coping mechanism for him, only now it's to the extreme considering the problem.

That just contrasts with the more "grounded" Dean, who buries things rather than runs from them. But whereas things will catch up with Sam when he stops, things will explode under pressure for Dean. Of course, the exception was Dean's hunting spree in season 4, but he backed off of that eventually since it seemed to exacerbate the underlying issues. I foresee Sam somehow being forced to stop, which will cause all his demons to come crashing down on him and it's going to take Dean doing some unpacking of his deeply buried issues to help his brother--and in turn, help himself. It'll be interesting to see where the writers take this, at least.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-02-10 06:10
The pieces started to fall into place for me as I looked at Emma's story and compared it to Dean's. She seemed to hit each note of his life--from childhood to training to Hell. I also think you're right, though, that she does represent responsibility for Dean. I'd also wager, in some ways, much like Amy represented Dean's view of himself as the monster, Emma does, too.

I've noticed that Jared's made Sam much more frantic this season. I think the last two cases he's had Sam pacing or moving around when working, when in the past Sam would sit during research and questioning and the like. Now he's moving almost all the time. I do think that the walls will tumble in on him when he stops moving, too.

And I think you're probably right. Dean will have to face and deal with his own problems if he intends on helping Sam. It'll be good for him to do so, too.