Really? You really want to read a review of this episode? Seriously? I know it's written by Jeremy Carver and we have this countdown going but, ugh, really?
Don't mind me, I'm just whining. There's only one episode that contends with this one for the worst episode Jeremy Carver ever wrote. That's the last episode I reviewed, "Long Distance Call." I do think this one takes the prize, but these things are subjective. Luckily, I get to review the good episodes in season 5!
I'm taking a lot of these bullet points from my original recap of this episode back in season four. When I recapped this episode, it was the first and only time I did what I call "vigilante recapping." I recapped scenes that I wished were in this episode. I even confused a lot of people when I claimed to have gotten an "extended" cut of this episode that included scenes The CW forgot to show. I gave descriptions of those scenes. Some got the joke, but others thought I just plain lost it. When recapping an episode like this, temporary insanity is a side effect!
I'll include some of so called those "missing scenes" in this recap too, just so it's interesting. Because this episode is dull.
Let's plow through this thing:
- Opening scene. TV, man (more like derelict), dinner and beer, lights go out, ghostly looking psycho girl comes out, he screams, blood spatter. Does that sum things up pretty well? Good.
- As I explained in my "Long Distance Call" review, I tend to hang out in the shallow end of the pool a bit longer than I normally would with bad episodes. Like I never leave. Here it is the first shot after the teaser and I'm have an awesome dip. Sam is sleeping in the back of the Impala. The dude is 6' 5". Impalas are roomy, but they're not that big! He's even too big for most beds (you'll see that in the next episode, "Death Takes A Holiday"). I'm sorry, was Sam and Dean talking about something? I didn't notice.
- Sam and Dean find a dumbwaiter. Sometimes these jokes write themselves. No, it's even worse. Sam say what it is, Dean calls Sam a know-it-all, and Sam actually gets offended. Dean backs off, and if I squint hard enough, I think that was a sign that there's some tension among the brothers. In season four? Noooooo.
- You're a kid that just moved into a new home. You find there's a strange mysterious being living in the closet and wanting to play ball with you. You a) play ball with her, or b) GET THE F**K OUT!! Yeah, the kid must not be any type of scholar, for he chooses a.
- Eric Kripke waited four seasons for the chance to finally work in the "licked hand" legend. I'm sure when it all played out finally, he went, "Wow, that legend sucks." Mr. Carver tried, but it was probably rejected up to this point for a reason. At least the girl is way smarter than her brother, since she screamed and decided it was time to GET THE F**K OUT!
- This is what I don't get. This horrible creature is messing with the kids and has horrifically killed the family dog. For the record, I don't get upset when people are butchered but dogs, that's crossing a line Carver! I have never forgiven you for that. The tires have been slashed. The weapons in the trunk have been cleared out. I know what to do. RUN FOR THE EFFING HILLS! Wait, Dean's got a better idea. Go back in the house and get in the salt ring. Um, okay.
- Aside from the fact that you don't leave the unhinged guy behind to protect the family and Sam is going upstairs unprotected even though a deadly supposed deadly Ghost wants to kill them all, this whole scene...um..no, it doesn't make a lick of sense.
- How about one of those "missing" scenes? It's when Sam goes upstairs to check out the attic while Dean stays behind in the living room with the family. Don't you wish you could have seen what Sam discovered in that attic? I certainly did.
Sam steps cautiously up the dark, creaky stairs, pulling out his flashlight to give just enough illumination for us to see his beautiful face yet still keep us in suspense over what's lurking in the dark. He finds the door to the attic and opens slowly, the cobwebs and musty smells smacking him in the face. His lanky frame works its way up, crouching down so not to hit his head on the low ceiling. Suddenly a bat flies out and he jumps, the creature narrowly missing his head by a few inches.
Sam recovers and pans the flashlight across the dark room, dust and cobwebs everywhere. Eventually he finds an opening in the wall and inspects, catching a glimpse of a book. He pulls out the journal and reads, it belongs to a girl named Rebecca. He places the book in his pocket and rises up, hearing a creak behind him. He whips around and sees nothing. He turns back and suddenly a noose is slung around his neck! It raises him up off the ground and he drops the flashlight and struggles, all while the spooky staccato of the score loudly rings in the background. Suddenly the worn rafter gives way and he falls to the ground. He removes the noose from his neck and struggles to regain his breath. He picks up the flashlight and shines it all around. Nothing is there.
What, you don't remember that? Didn't you miss out!
- Who called it that Ted was this week's red shirt when he went down into the dark walls with Dean? That's kind of horror writing 101, isn't it? Too bad, I liked him.
- One of the best Dean Winchester lines ever. "Dog, it's what's for dinner."
- Here's an "extended" scene. They really cut out a lot. Or at least what I recall. Like I said, my copy of this alternate episode cut is missing. :)
Sam and Brian check outside. Brian finds something in the brush and calls out to Sam, "I found something!" Sam rushes over, and winces in disgust over what he sees when he kneels to inspect. Doesn't Sam ever get used to these gross moments? "What is it?" Brian asks. Sam sees in the glimmer of the moonlit maggots ingesting remains of rats and other animal carcasses. Then he sees skeleton of a human hand, flesh cleaned off, infested by worms. Before Sam replies, they are both startled by the snap of a twig in the background. Sam jumps up. "Come on," Sam says. "We should get to the shed."
At the shed Dean arrives, minus Ted. Or, at least alive Ted. Dead Ted is outside, fresh food for the maggots and worms from that last scene. Dean in heart breaking fashion tells them the news, and that he's sorry, and Dad guesses pretty easy that Ted's dead. Dean offers his condolences and leaves completely broken up. A sorrowful Sam pauses for a minute, and then rushes out after Dean. Their bombshell dialogue goes something like this:
Sam: Come on Dean, it's about time you talked out this.
Dean: About what?
Sam: This guilt trip you're on.
Dean: (winces, fighting back tears) I shouldn't have left him alone.
Sam: You can't save everyone. It wasn't your fault.
Dean: Easy for you to say. You didn't get him killed.
Sam: You didn't either!! Now tell me what this is all about!
Dean: (sighs) I enjoyed it Sam.
Dean: The torture. Giving the torture in Hell.
Sam: (continues to stare, horrified)
Dean: I enjoyed it, Sam. they took me off the rack, and I tortured souls, and I liked it. All those years; all that pain. Finally getting to deal some out yourself...I didn't care who they put in front of me, because that pain I felt, that just slipped away. No matter how many people I save, I can't change that. I can't fill this hole. Not ever.
Dean walks away ashamed and Sam watches him leave, too stunned to say anything.
- Let's speed up a bit. People wait in a shed for something to kill them, Dean goes down the dumbwaiter to rescue the not-to-sharp-plays-ball-with-people-living-in-the-walls-kid, while Sam stays behind because he gets to live the childhood dream of playing MacGvyer by fashioning a rope out of bed sheets. Got all that? It ends with the family in the shed getting chopped to bits, the boy getting eaten in the crawl space, and Dean suffering terrible compound ankle fractures because Sam sucks at making ropes out of bedsheets.
- Fine, they kill the two mutant kids in the wall and everyone leaves shaken but happy. Doesn't my ending sound more interesting?
- If it sounds like this episode irritated me, the ending scene drove me to absolutely livid. Easily the worst part of the episode. I went from cheeky to outright giving up in disgust. At the time, I started calling these moments "The Impala Confessionals." They were getting a bit ridiculous. Here's some more "creative" recapping.
Its overcast under the overpass in Vancouver, uh I mean Nebraska, and its time to eat takeout outside the Impala. Sam hands Dean a burger but he won't touch it. Sam asks Dean if he's okay. Dean sympathizes for the monsters in the wall. Lifelong torture turned them into something like that. Sam wisely mentions Dean was in Hell and not one of them. Dean thinks he's worse, since they were animals defending territory and he did it for pleasure.
Sam puts his burger down, for he's had enough. He looks at Dean, unable to hold in his frustration anymore. "Look, I know you're hurting, but what you're doing to yourself, to both of us, it isn't healthy. We can't save everyone, and we can't keep driving ourselves into the ground." Dean asks, "What else am I supposed to do Sam? How else am I supposed to drive the memories, the pain, all of this hurt away?" Sam looks at him with deep sorrow. "It gets better Dean. Trust me, I know."
Dean lowers his head and walks away, climbing into the Impala, leaving Sam outside alone. Sam picks up his burger and finds he's not hungry either. He grabs both sandwiches and gets in the Impala with Dean where they sit together in silence.
- For the record, you want to know how disappointing the rewatch was for me? These unwritten scenes have very fond memories! Way better than what we got actually got.
That's all for "Family Remains." I still don't list this episode as one of the worst ever, but it isn't one I watch a lot. Especially since I misplaced my "alternate" version. Even Jeremy Carver can't bat 1000, so he's allowed one super bad one. Which means his quota in season 8 is full. :)
The first thing that stood out to me was that the photography was beautiful. Wasn't this the one that had a wide shot where there was a little pond in front of the trailer house when they went to interview the cleaning lady? That shot was beautifully done.
I also still remember the scene with the cleaning lady. She had such a brief appearance, but I still remember her performance and what a good job she did with such a little part. That's the sign of a really good actress.
I also thought JA gave a wonderful performance of a PTSD slowly unraveling. Too bad that storyline was just dropped.
I don't think the things that were 'wrong' with the episode were giant plotholes, which annoy me a lot, but were more failures in logic. Plot holes drive me nuts, but I can overlook logic in most cases.
Three of those logic failures that really stood out were:
1) Dean, who is always armed to the teeth and, in this case, supposed to be all edgy and sleepless, goes into the house unarmed? Seriously? They did this a couple of times in S6 and S7, too, and it drives me nuts.
2) How did the human kids get into the trunk and take all the weapons? I can't get into a trunk.
3) Carrying all those Impala tires back from God knows where must have been a real chore. Those dudes are heavy!
Basically, the really creepy feral kids worked okay for me. I would have liked to hear "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," instead of just have a reference to it, though. God, I hope they get some of the music back into this show.
I didn't see the original recap(no computer) . I did enjoy this one with your revised scenes and all, Alice.
Now where we differ, Alice, is that the ending scene is about the only part I like. Maybe the Impala confessionals were becoming overused, but I still like the idea of this. It seems realistic to me that after suffering 30 years of excruciating torture that when Dean gets a chance to do it himself, part of him enjoys it. There's even a bit of a precedent, in Bloodlust he and Gordon discussed enjoying the kill. Justifying to himself that he was only torturing souls that were probably in hell for good reason. And then feel devastating guilt afterwords, that seems completely in character to me.
The feral girl was creepy and I also hate it when innocent pets get slaughtered for the plot, like in "Repo Man". Poor little sweet waggy tailed doggy! Actually spoiled that whole episode for me.
I didn't like that Dean made so very many bad decisions in this one, like no weapons on him, convinced that it was a ghost even when Ted nailed what it was. (I really liked Ted). Made them all get back in the house when they should have been hightailing it out of there altogether. Taking poor Ted with him into the walls and sending mother and daughter into the shed. What? Geez! Dean really must have been missing his sleep, because he is NEVER so clueless! Bad Jeremy!
What I liked was when Dean was going down the hole and muttering "Don't grab my legs, don't grab my legs". The actress who played the feral girl was really creepy. And I hurt along with Sam hearing Dean confess about liking to torture souls. Also loved the beginning with Sam snoozing in the backseat and Dean anxious to find another hunt in record time.
This one is on my very short list of least enjoyable episodes.
I wonder if this episode suffered from being moved or shuffled around out of order, which sometimes happens at the last minute before airing. It would have made more sense to put it closer to On The Head of a Pin where Dean's hell revelation and him putting his torturing skills into practice would have carried more weight, been more shocking and would have seemed like more of a profound problem for him to deal with. This, paired up with On the Head of a Pin's aftermath and Dean's subsequent breakdown then followed up by is 'lesson' and rejuvenation for the hunt in It's a Terrible Life would have made for a much more cohesive arc for Dean in season 4 IMHO.
I feel that the writers looked at how amazing the confession scene at the end of Heaven and Hell was and decided to go for another one and one up it. But this one doesn't work (at least for me). I don't believe it and if it didn't exist I don't think it would make any difference to anything that was done with the storyline later - it is totally tacked-on. (it isn't canon as far as I am concerned :D)
Dean knows (and knew) that the people being tortured are not necessarily people who deserve to be in hell. He isn't punishing wicked things - could be Bela or any of the (stupid) people who made deals. Dean wouldn't torture innocent people just to make himself feel better. It is bad enough that he broke and started the apocalypse, this is just too far.
I always thought that Sam should have not pulled the trigger in Asylum either. These are defining moments - the hero is supposed to pass this test. Sam passed it in Swan Song, John in the last episode of Season 1 and in Hell and Bobby in the first episode of season 6. I am not sure Dean has yet?
But I guess that doing something unexpected makes for a better storyline? *is unconvinced*
I have issues because they could spell! Who taught them to read? They lived in the walls!!!!
And wardrobe people! Seriously? What was that "Little House on the Prairie" dress doing on the feral girl? It's the 21st century.
Like they say, you never forget your first... Supernatural episode. This was the first episode I ever saw, and I didn't even see the whole thing, just snippets. I remember Dean sticking his leg down a hole and saying "Please, nothing grab my leg.. Please nothing grab my leg". And I saw enough of the scenes involving Sam, Dean and Ted that I could figure out the two handsome men were going to live, and the other guy (pleasant looking but not like looking into the sun or a shampoo commercial) was a redshirt and would die a horrible, brutal death very soon.
But I did see the end scene. And since it was my first emotional-conve rsation-over-th e-Impala, I was blown away. They're talking about Hell, and torture, and guilt and redemption. I was immediately hooked by a show that dared to examine those issues. And I came scurrying back the next week to watch an entire episode.
So, for me Family Remains was a mighty fine 10 to 15 minutes of television!
I liked the brotherly bits in it, and it was the first really genuinely scary SPN ep for a very long time. I jumped out of my skin when that girl crossed the salt line.
So I didn't mind it at all. Certainly not a JC classic like MS or AVSC, but fine.
I do think this is what Carver will be giving us in s8.
That said I do have one scene I absolutely love. You'd think it was Sam sleeping in the impala but nope. It was when the boys found the creepy doll in the closet. Loved that scene. Their expressions!!!! !!!!! Loved!!!
I remember all the complaints about Dean still focusing on Hell and the confessions by the Impala, but I never understood them. Those scenes worked for me. Heck, Dean should have spent more time talking about Hell in S4.
As far as him enjoying the torture - I think that is entirely plausible to me. Who wouldn't enjoy dealing out some toture after being tortured for 30 years? Makes sense to me. I thought it added some layers to Dean's already developed character. I certainly didn't think less of him for it.