I'm setting aside all conspiracy theories this week. I'm taking the whole episode for what we were given, because taking this suspense filled hour anywhere else will blow my freaking mind.
Now that's out of the way, HOLY MOTHER OF CHUCK!
That was one very emotionally gut wrenching, dig-my-nails-into-the-armchair hour of television. I cried, I screamed, but most of all my heart shattered for these brothers, who don't mean to hurt each other, but they just can't avoid it right now. They both think they're doing what's best, and sadly that's not putting them on the same page. It's not making their predicaments any better either, and that pushes this emotional story into Shakespearian tragedy range. Or Shakespeare if it played out in the deep south. That tends to involve a lot of country music.
"Sometimes it's not easy to see things for what they are."
Out of that entire hour of suspense, mixed loyalties, heartbreak, and intense drama it was this above quote from Sam that stuck with me the most. There's the whole crux of the entire episode. Often times the players in this story weren't able to look past their own perceptions, and it got them into a whole mess of trouble.
On the superficial level, that quote is about Benny and his new life, but it also applies to Sam and his relationship with Amelia. No matter how hard they want to pretend, they weren't meant for those lives. But this comment also applies to Sam and Dean's current relationship. It's fractured right now and neither are seeing each other's point of view.
Sam started all this by bringing in Martin. His logic was sound, he was helping out an old friend and tracking a vampire that he wasn't sure was staying in line. He thought he had control of the situation, he thought he was protecting innocents. I'm sure he didn't expect checking out two vampire kills would push him and Dean into an extreme test of loyalty. When Dean told him, â€œEvery relationship I've ever had has gone to crap at some point. But the one thing I can say about Benny is he has never let me down,â€ the hurt on Sam's face was obvious. Sure he responded with a sarcastic, â€œWell good on you Dean, it must be great finding someone you can trust after all these years,â€ but that ended up setting the boundaries. Sam would take care of the situation with Martin and not Dean, because Dean wasn't seeing straight.
The fact that Dean a while ago programmed one of their extra phones to emulate Amelia's number, knowing one day he might need that to lure away or trick Sam, that action became both strategically brilliant and emotionally devastating. That trick delivered poor Sammy a deep blow to his already shaky state. He literally abandoned the hunt in process (Martin's a big boy, he could handle himself) just because he thought Amelia was in trouble. It's a mode he jumps into out of instinct, a mode he does often for Dean. Dean knew that, and he chose to play it. No, Sam was not expecting to find that Amelia and Don were together again and doing fine (or so it seemed through the window).
Judging by the fact that Sam was in a bar in Kermit after that drowning his sorrows with whiskey, something he only drinks alone when he's truly upset, the decoy shook him pretty hard. He's hurt by the two people he cares for the most, the two people he'd bail on a hunt midway for. In that hurt, Sam refused to hear the whole story from Dean. All he knew is Martin was dead and Benny wasn't. I really, really wonder where Sam was going to go before running into Amelia. I think he was going after Benny.
In defense of Dean though, he didn't fail Sam's loyalty test. He passed it, albeit in a rather dickish way that only continued to alienate his brother. Dean is still operating in survival mode. There's no room for sparing feelings, including Sam's. Dean sent that text message to protect both Sam and Benny. To him it was the only way. He knew that Benny was strong and would kill Sam in defense, but as he warned Benny Sam couldn't be underestimated either. It gave them some time to kill the rogue vampire and give Benny a head start in going underground, all while keeping Sam out of harms way. He didn't choose one over another. However, in order to achieve that purpose, he played on Sam's deep emotional trigger, knowing he would drop everything.
No doubt that was a hard choice. No doubt Dean knew Sam would be pissed at him and I'm sure he wondered if it was wise to send Sam running to Amelia. He told Benny, â€œGuys like us, we don't get a home, and we don't get family.â€ Benny replied, â€œYou've got Sam.â€ Dean gave him an uncertain, â€œYeah.â€ He didn't know at that point how things stood with his brother, but he knew it wasn't good. I'm sure he wondered if Sam would ever talk to him again. He definitely knows trust is out the window.
I doubt Dean regrets his actions and felt like he did the right thing because both Benny and Sam are alive. He could also justify it since Sam pushed him into that predicament in the first place. Dean's more hard edged now and he isn't going to sugarcoat things. There's no room for hurt feelings. He had his reasons and it's done. He also figures that Sam is a big boy and he'll get over this. They after all have a history with this sort of thing. Not that he won't try to make things right. As we see in the preview, he goes to find Sam. He's not giving up on his brother.
So, there's the impasse, the inability for both brothers to see things the way they are. Dean can't see the deep emotional impact that having a normal life did to Sam. He thinks she's just a girl. Sam can't see that Dean has been profoundly changed by Purgatory and that Benny is more to him that a friend. He's a brother. By being unable to accept the other people in their lives, they can't accept each other.
I was really glad to see the return of Martin, but it shouldn't have been shocking to find out he was that unbalanced. He did after all come out of a nuthouse. He was clearly in no shape to hunt, and every one of his actions showed it, like him sharply stabbing ice cubes out of an ice tray. The person who deserves the most blame for killing Martin is Martin. He was warned, but in that theme of not seeing things for what they are, let his hatred for monsters blind his judgment. Using an innocent human as bait is low, especially a girl that was nothing but sweet to him. He ahd it coming. Did you notice that Martin brought up John and how he wouldn't approve of what Dean was doing? John's been coming up a lot this season. You suppose that's intentional?
Oh Benny. I was so scared for Benny the whole episode. I really thought they would kill him. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not killing him!! TPTB played on our fear of characters we like dying by adding a lot of suspense over whose dead body was in the restaurant when Dean arrived. When Benny laid his head on the counter with tears in his eyes, staring into the teary face of his great granddaughter, I lost it. Well, well done. Ty Olsson, you rule.
So, did Benny kill Martin or Elizabeth? There was no sign of bite marks, and the presence of a lot of blood indicates Benny didn't feed. I say Benny did it. Considering the knife was in Martin's left hand, Benny likely blocked the machete strike from his right hand, grabbed the knife and started slicing. Elizabeth was right in the middle of it to get all the splatter. Only a forensics expert can tell me I'm wrong!
This was the first appearance as director for Nick Copus on Supernatural and what an amazing job he did. He's previously done work on Nikita, another favorite show of mine. He used some very interesting and unique camera angles that set the tone of this tragic story perfectly. He added tension during Martin's talk on the phone with Benny by focusing on the slow way Martin was pushing around the pie on the plate. He used slightly distorted close-ups of Martin holding a knife to Elizabeth's throat to accent Martin's unhinged state and Benny's growing fire within. My two favorite shots though were the POV from the bucket of water as Benny washed his bloody hands, and the shot through the screen door from inside the restaurant, with Elizabeth sitting on the porch and the headlights of the Impala in the hazy night approaching. Both were very ominous and notched up the horror by a lot.
This was also the first solo script for Daniel Loflin. He and Andrew Dabb are the most senior writers on the show aside from Ben Edlund, so I'm actually stunned it took this long for him to get a solo turn. He delivered in a massive way, giving us the best episode of the season thus far. The problem is a lot of these stories over the last couple of seasons haven't had the nail biting suspense or kept me guessing all the way to the end. They've also seemed very formulaic. With this episode, I was on the edge of my seat all the way through and couldn't predict any of it. To be able to do that in season eight of a very suspense filled show says a lot. Given Andrew Dabb's decent script from last week as well, I vote these guys start writing on their own from now on.
Overall Grade, an A. When the show comes back on January 16th (what????), it looks like we'll be getting a pivotal episode in what's happening to Castiel. Hopefully this will explain some things with Sam and Dean as well. Six weeks isn't so long, right? Yeah, I'll be a wreck too.