A human, angel, and vampire walk into a bar...tell me if you've heard this one. Sorry, its an Edlund script. Might as well start with a joke.
Fine, "Blood Brother" was one of his heavier scripts, but it goes to prove you're never sure what you're gonna get from Ben except a well written story. It saddens me that we haven't gotten a real screwball one from him in a while, but as Supernatural's most competent writer by far, someone has to carry the weight of strong character development. Besides, I know someday Jeremy Carver is going to cave and let Ben do that episode of Sam and Dean on a spaceship.
The episode at hand though is "Blood Brother" so what was brought to the table? For one, the wedge between Sam and Dean is quite deeper this week. So much so, they're both at wits end with one another. I was half expecting them to wrestle over the Toblerone that Dean took on the road. This is the most fire and emotion we've seen from Sam all season, and Dean is letting that grudge against Sam over not trying to find him really fester now. He's still rubbing it in, but now its with far more anger. "Last I counted you took a year off from the job. I need a day!" Bitchface alert! Oh yeah, Sam is mad. Conflict is imminent and Benny's call is just the right thing needed to blow this thing wide open.
Fan favorite Guy Bee is the director, and there's just something about Guy's work that resonates with paired with an Edlund script. The first stunning visual is Dean's first flashback to Purgatory. The very jagged memories of fighting monsters in Purgatory all to Benny's eerie whistling to "In the Hall of The Mountain King" (credit to Supernatural Wiki for the info) is top notch film making. That wiki page BTW shares that Guy Bee said it was an homage to the Fritz Lang movie M.
Another shot I absolutely loved is the off camera viewpoint of two vampires pursuing Dean in the house around the hallway corner. All that we see of the encounter is a vampire head rolling across the hallway, then Dean emerging unscathed. Classic! The best shot though is the closing one, but more on that later.
I do admit this episode was really hard to hear. I didn't pickup on a lot of what was said by Benny until the rewatch. Once I heard though, I was thrilled over such amazing dialogue and ended up feeling sorry for Benny in the end. As a matter of fact, we got a story with several characters.
Castiel! Nothing thrilled me more than seeing him do the soul sucking death grip on a monster that was wielding one of those Purgatory axes. Would Castiel have died if he was stabbed by one of those things? Isn't an angel blade the only thing that can kill an angel? Another thing that thrilled me, Castiel is verbalizing things we are wondering in our mind. Sort of. Remember, this is Edlund writing, and Cas has always been big on words. "It does present a curious curl in the metaphysics, doesn't it? If you murder a monster in monster heaven, where does it go?"
Castiel is a beacon for all sort of attacks, including Leviathan. Dean takes care of one, and Benny takes care of another, just in time to save Castiel from the Levi bite. Dean watches this and that is likely the point that Benny starts to win him over. I have one question though. How is chopping of a Leviathan's head killing them in Purgatory? Isn't that where Dick Roman went when he died? Dick's death rendered them vulnerable to death by head chops in both worlds? I'll put that in the "curl of metaphysics" department.
Benny and Dean
Ben Edlund already spilled the "Vampirates" line at Comic Con, but it still tickled me to hear Dean say it. Dean was obviously thinking that Benny had done something horrible as he was driving up to Washington, and as soon as he found out Benny was seeking revenge, he was all in. Dean wanted to text Sam, but changed his mind. It wasn't until he needed a vampire distraction, like a loudly protesting Sam going nuts on the cell phone over Dean being in a vamps nest alone, that Dean decided to call him. Does that make him clever or mean? Both probably. It does show that Dean still wants his brother to have his back, but is having enough doubts where he's talking himself out of it. He's unable to give Sam a chance. This ties into last weeks episode, "Bitten," when Dean is caught on camera chastising Sam for being out of practice.
Benny is a perfect parallel to Sam, circa season four. Benny maybe a monster, but he longs for his humanity again. He just wants his revenge against the vampire that turned him, and then plans to walk away from it all and live a normal life. Sadly, the memory of the woman he cherished, Andrea, the memory that got him through the ordeal of Purgatory, wasn't for real. His "old man" turned her and gave her high ranking in the nest. She became a savage, just as bad as the others. Considering it was her that helped him find his human side before he was killed, he's devastated to see her become this, and loses any hope he had for himself. Foreshadowing for Sam's plight perhaps, or is it only a parallel to Sam of the past?
Dean kills Andrea to save Benny, but the question is, has he truly saved Benny? He even asks Dean why he resurrected him. He knows Dean could have dumped his soul anywhere. "I don't know what I am." So, what does Benny do now? Will he embrace that human side or the monster within? I sense this is where his friendship with Dean will become important.
Sam and Amelia
Sam is worrying me a bit. He's not as stable as he seems. Why in the world was he checking Amelia's credit card statements? "Not stalking, concerned," he tells himself. No, that's obsessive. Didn't he walk out on her? Perhaps she's the one that told him to go? His flashbacks involved their awkward encounters at a motel where both were staying and where Sam had become the handyman. Amelia thought he was creepy. It wasn't until his dog, aptly named "Dog" (he should have tried d-o-g. Say it out loud) runs into her open room and they have a chance to talk. She's been there 3 months, but hasn't gotten to know anyone or tried to put down roots. Mostly though, she has no idea where she's going. "That's because you have no one," Sam tells her. They've just found something painfully in common.
It's Sam's reactions with Dean though that's the most troubling. Dean's been in lots of dicey situations before. Then why was Sam having a borderline freak out over Dean going away for a day and then being in a vampire nest? He was quite agitated on the drive up to Washington. Pushing his foot on the accelerator was the greatest tell. When he stood on the dock, seeing that Dean was okay, he was angrier though, not relieved.
So what's up with Sam? I sense that's what we'll find out in future flashbacks, or maybe even next week, but his extreme reaction reminds me of the season premiere when he hit the dog. He's not alright. Losing Dean again must have had a terrible effect on him. It's in a way "Mystery Spot" all over again. Just how many times can Sam endure losing Dean? That ordeal just about broke him. It's breaking him here too.
That sets up the AMAZING closing scene and reminds us under no uncertain terms that Guy Bee knows the strengths of the actors he's working with. The art of letting Sam and Dean sell an whole scene with nonverbal glances was lost for most of season seven ("Hello Cruel World", another Edlund/Bee collaboration, being a notable exception) and is soooo welcome here.
Sam angrily waits on the dock for Dean. He sees Sam isn't too happy and gets angry himself, flinging his items out of the boat without even looking at him. Sam notices Dean's passenger so Benny gets out, and introduces himself to Sam with a handshake, telling him he heard a lot about him. When Sam gets the cold feeling from Benny's hand, his livid glance slowly turns to a stoic Dean, and then back to Benny as he calmly reaches for his weapon. Dean's face is shot from a low angle and he subtly shakes his head, calling Sam off. Sam lets go of Benny's hand. Benny understands. "I can see you two have a lot to talk about." He walks away as Dean flashes him a look of approval, then brothers stare at each other in defiance. It closes with Sam's angry stare. Just Wow. You can cut that tension with a knife.
So what can we take away from this ending, other than Sam and Dean are fist fighting in the preview for next week? Dean just made his choice, and it's not Sam. In a way, Sam is again alone, which seems to be a big problem for Sam these days. This is reminiscent of Sam choosing Ruby over Dean in season four. This is different though. Dean isn't running off with Benny, yet anyway. The brothers are still sticking with each other for now. The commitment to find and protect Kevin is the only thing keeping them together. Now a big part of the story becomes seeing how the fractured bond survives the process.
Coming up next week, Garth plays marriage counselor. Hey, they could do worse. I give "Blood Brother" an A- overall, and I'm tagging it as the best of the season so far. This show sorely needed a strong character study, and Mr. Edlund once again delivered at the right time.