Using the foundations both "LARP and the Real Girl" and "As Time Goes By" built, "Everybody Hates Hitler," adds another layer to being the willing hero and that of legacy: that of knowledge and power. "LARP and the Real Girl" showed us why moving from reluctant to willing hero could be satisfying and fulfilling, and "As Time Goes By" demonstrated that doing it for family is reward in and of itself. Here we learn that knowledge is empowering and taking action is freeing.
"Knowledge is power, isn't it?" the leader of the Thule Society, Eckhart, asks Aaron, the lone descendant of the Judah Initiative. He has taken the scroll from the Golem's mouth and is stunned to find that Aaron has not taken possession of it. It is his lack of knowledge that gives Eckhart the upper hand---momentarily. Without knowledge, Aaron cannot "yifalchunbee" as his Golem has begged him to do. Knowledge played a pivotal role in "As Time Goes By," but it is here, in "Everybody Hates Hitler" that we learn what to do with it. We learn to "yifalchunbee. " translated "to take charge." It is in taking charge that we can do something about our circumstances, a situation, and in Sam and Dean's case, set their own destinies rather than being trapped into those set out for them.
Throughout the series we have seen victims countless times killed and scarred by their brush with the supernatural. They have been powerless to it, overwhelmed by its existence and its effects on their lives. Up until that moment, these victims drifted, unaware of the other world running parallel to their own. They did not know about the various supernatural threats lurking outside their door, waiting to snatch their lives or their normalcy away. Many don't survive these encounters, but those that do have a choice now that they have experienced it---have gained knowledge about it.
Most that hunters help end up going back to a normal life---with a bit more awareness that there is more out there. They don't take up the fight nor do they pursue other supernatural beings that could potentially harm them. One encounter was more than enough, and while they may never be innocent of its existence as they were prior, they have chosen not to pursue it so to potentially avoid ever experiencing it again. It is understandable. After all surviving once might have been a fluke and courting that type of danger again is asking for too much trouble.
But others are not satisfied with this response. Others have no choice but to act upon their newly gained knowledge. It is not unlike opening Pandora's box or eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden. What has been learned cannot be unlearned and to ignore the existence of the supernatural world is folly to those that choose to act. These people choose, as the Golem begged Aaron to do, to take charge. They become hunters---or in Henry Winchester's case, Men of Letters. They choose to accept the supernatural---and to do something about it.
It becomes simple: either take action, take charge, or let the supernatural take charge of you.
John Winchester took charge after Mary's death, finding out everything he could about what killed her and what else was out there. He felt he had no choice after what had happened. Bobby became a hunter after his wife was possessed, learning everything he could to prevent anyone else from having to endure what he had. Gordon Walker's family is attacked and turned by vampires, and he becomes obsessed with killing them. They had all been caught unaware, and each in their own way had decided to try and prevent that from happening ever again.
In "Everybody Hates Hitler, it is Aaron that is getting his first introduction to the supernatural. As the grandson of one of the rabbis in the Judah Initiative, it is up to him now to stop the Thule Society out to destroy the Jewish people. He has inherited the task---and he has also inherited the Golem, created in the Vitsyebsk Ghetto during WWII. Up until this moment, he had taken it as mere story, fiction, a coping mechanism for his grandfather. He says, "My grandfather's adventures, the Initiative, the Golem, the war "“ they were the stories that he told me when I was a kid. I thought it was make-believe. So did my parents "“ you know, fantasies to help him cope with all the horrible stuff he'd seen, but every once in a while, crazy old Grandpa Bass would come back by on one of his trips, hand me a $20 savings bond, and say, "one day, you'll inherit the mantle." "
Now, however, Aaron must make a choice as all the others have before him. Does he stand aside despite his new knowledge or does he take charge---does he "yifalchunbee?"
Those that take charge do so for many reasons. It is to take vengeance over lost loved ones. It is to stop others from enduring the same fate. Some do it for the sheer adventure, as Eliot Ness did. Others still do it because they were raised into it, as the Campbell and Harvelle families did. Some do it to do something bigger than themselves, to understand the supernatural world around them.
Whatever the reason those that take charge have taken the knowledge they gained and turned it into action.
Aaron spends the episode avoiding doing so. He is frustrated with the Golem, unable to control him or understand what it is demanding from him. The Golem is his inheritance, and the book that could tell him what he needs to know about it has been rolled into joints long ago. At the time he had no idea that it was a real being, that it wasn't some messed up story. Without that knowledge he is powerless to take action, to take charge of the situation at hand.
Aaron's story isn't just about him, however. It is as much about the Winchesters as it is about him. They, too, have a decision to make about new knowledge gained. They have their own inheritance to come to terms with. Do they take action or do they walk away from it? How could this knew knowledge empower them? Could it be the break Sam thinks it is?
Hunting throughout the series has been seen as the Winchester destiny. Both brothers have felt trapped by it at various intervals. They have felt it was their only option, their only choice. Due to the destinies thrust upon them surrounding the now failed Apocalypse, it was seen as a trap from which they could not escape. They had no choice but to deal with it and to remain involved within the supernatural world. They hadn't chosen to be hunters---they had inherited that, too. It was something their father did, something their father had raised them to be, and any deviation from that course was either frowned upon or forbidden. To walk away was seen as weakness, shirking of responsibility, and more.
But, it is in "Torn and Frayed," that we see Sam and Dean each recommit to the life, to hunting, and to each other as a brotherly hunting unit. No one is forcing them here, no one is holding a gun to their heads telling them that they must. Each brother has a choice to make. Dean has already decided to be in the fight, to continue hunting. His is more a commitment to his brother, and by cutting ties with Benny, he does this. Sam, on the other hand, has to choose now or never what he will do. Does he keep hunting or does he give it up for a chance at a normal life with Amelia? He chooses to stay with Dean, committing to the hunt, committing to his brother, and committing to taking action---to taking charge.
Hunting is taking action, and we have seen it be used to the Winchester's advantage in the past. It is hunting that allows them to smash the shackles of their own destinies. They learn of ways to thwart the plan the angels have set out. They aren't unaware of their world, nor are they willing to just take it. They gained the knowledge necessary to stop the Apocalypse and then they took action. It is that taking action that has allowed them to set their own destinies. It is now finally coming to fruition. Now they can finally use their knowledge to do whatever they wish---no hard and fast destinies looming for them---only those that they choose.
We see this story translated through Aaron's own transformation. He is frustrated and freaked out by this encounter with the supernatural. He expresses his frustration about the Golem, fighting with it, struggling to come to grips with both its existence and what to do with it. The easy answer, of course, is to allow Sam and Dean to find a way to destroy it. No Golem, no need to be involved with anything supernatural, and a return to a normal and quiet life. But destroying the Golem does not erase the knowledge gained. Aaron would still know about the Thule Society---about the supernatural world out there. Nothing can change that for him now.
The only thing he can do is decide what route he will take. Does he take action or not?
As the episode progresses, and he follows Sam and Dean's lead to piece the puzzle that his grandfather put together, Aaron starts to change his view subtly. He starts to see value in what used to be crazy stories and myths. It empowers him. He begins to slowly realize that while he might not have asked for this to happen, he can now do something about it. He does not have to be a victim, nor does he have to stand on the sidelines.
After Aaron overhears Sam and Dean's discussion on what to do about the Golem, how to destroy it if necessary, he becomes incensed. He states angrily, "Look, he may be a pain in the ass, but he's my responsibility," showing that he is starting to see the value in it. He is seeing it not simply as something dumped on him, something he doesn't understand, but as his. He is choosing to take action about it.
Aaron still has more to learn, however, as he still does not know how to control the Golem. He doesn't know how to take charge of it. It isn't until Eckhart and his group track him and the brothers down that he learns the truth. In his arrogance, Eckhart gives Aaron the tools. As he believes none will survive this encounter it does not matter if he tells Aaron the truth about the Golem. So, he takes the scroll from it and tells him that he should write his name on it. It will allow him to "yifalchunbee."
It is in that moment that Eckhart has sealed his fate. He has given Aaron the final push he needed. Aaron is intimidated and shocked at their arrival, but as Sam and Dean distract Eckhart, he seizes the moment to take action. He is no trained fighter, nor is he skilled in weaponry, but he knows an opportunity when he sees it. Taking a broken table leg, he takes his chances and strikes Eckhart in the head, giving the Winchesters the chance to shoot the other Nazis in the room---and Eckhart himself.
All but one that escapes---and those that are hidden out in the world.
Aaron now has another choice to make. Does he surrender his inoperative Golem to the Winchesters or does he continue his grandfather's work? He states to the brothers, "He left me something important. Something that only I can do." As he writes his name on the scroll underneath his grandfather's, Aaron takes action in word and in deed. He puts the scroll back and the Golem again resumes action, again asking him to "yifalchunbee," confusing Aaron. Hadn't he done so? The Golem confirms and Aaron fully accepts his legacy, his choice to become the sole member of the Judah Initiative.
It is not unlike the Winchesters themselves. They may have spent their entire lives struggling against the life, hunting, and the supernatural world, but the fact remains: they know of its existence; they know the truth. They know what is out there, they know what has to be done---and much like Aaron, they know that they have to take action---they have to take charge. The difference for them now is that they have chosen to do so of their own free will, of their own making.
This may be their legacy, but it doesn't have to be their inescapable destiny. They don't have to do this because of their father. They don't have to do it out of an obligation to anyone. Sam and Dean have chosen to take action for the best of reasons: this time they have chosen to take action for themselves.
It is by taking charge here through taking action that the Winchesters have set themselves free.
Hal Linden appears briefly as a memorable Rabbi Bass. Known best as Barney Miller, he brings his great skill to the character. Linden makes us take to Rabbi Bass right away with his tenacious performance. He is defiant and no nonsense, yet eccentric. Linden makes Rabbi Bass memorable and powerful on screen just by sheer presence. He gives the character a richness. Underneath the drive and the race against the clock, Linden shows that Rabbi Bass is also funny and endearing. His best line is delivered in Hebrew, making us laugh at the stuck up librarian as he quips, "I hope they pay you good to keep that bug up your ass." Even in the end, as he is killed, Linden makes sure we see just how defiant Rabbi Bass was.
Bernhard Forcher gives Eckhart such sheer arrogance that we can't help but love to hate him. He plays every inch the Nazi---utilizing the known cliches while making them fresh and interesting. Forcher makes Eckhart intimidating and sinister just by his screen presence. The sneer on his face makes it all come together, making him the big villain here. We don't have to sympathize with him on any level. By being a Nazi, we can openly despise this baddie, and Forcher seems to have fun with that aspect of the role. He brings a imperious air to the character, making Eckhart larger than life. No line sums up his egotistical nature more than when he says pridefully, "Invented... those experiments, thank you." As engaging as it is to watch him taunt and indulge in this persona, we can't help but cheer when the Winchesters shoot him, ending his threat.
John De Santis plays the inhuman Golem with such humanity we can't help but empathize with him. Despite his large and imposing size, he seems to be a gentle giant---only violent when pushed to anger or facing a grave threat. De Santis makes the Golem an example of a good supernatural being. He is formed from clay, meant as a weapon for war, but he is oh so much more. De Santis shows us that the Golem lives by a code of honor, underlined by his delivery of the line, "It's not my place to guide the rabbi, to teach the teacher! It's not my place!" He may not think it his place to teach the teacher, but through his example it is exactly what he does. De Santis puts this into his performance, in his body language, and his actions. We can hear it in his rumbling voice. It is this skill that makes us care for his character so much.
Adam Rose makes us underestimate Aaron throughout. He may not have the knowledge about his Golem due to his youthful indiscretions of the past, and he may not understand what it means to take charge for much of it, but we know due to his tailing Dean that he is trying. Rose shows this in his subtle performance, setting up Ackles for a comedic moment. Once the truth has been revealed, Rose shows us how frustrated Aaron is with the situation---and how green he is to the supernatural. Rose is funny and likeable as Aaron, making it easy to cheer for him. He plays off well against De Santis, setting them up to be a great duo. He shows that Aaron can be tenacious and determined in both scenes where he stands up first to Sam and Dean and then to Eckhart later on. Rose's Aaron may not have been trained to be a warrior, but he convinces us in the end that he has what it takes to become one.
Jensen Ackles presents Dean as both skeptic and quintessential hunter. While Sam is awed by the Men of Letters Bunker, it is Dean that takes time to warm up to it. He figures that since the society died out in 1958---and was secret---and says,"Which means that they made crap up and wore fezzes and sashes and swung around scimitars." Ackles pulls on Dean's boyish side to express his joy about the water pressure in the shower, showing that the elder Winchester is warming up slowly. We get to see a comical side to Dean as he has an awkward moment with Aaron, flustered and clumsy as he tries to get out of it. Ackles plays this angle further when he encounters the Golem for the first time, realizing that he is outmatched quickly. That doesn't mean Dean's hard edge isn't lurking underneath it all. As they face down the Thule and discuss what to do about the Golem, Dean has no hesitation in telling Aaron firmly, "Believe me, if we need the right, we will take it." He shows it even more when they face Eckhart, Dean not flinching in the moment to tell him off with his usual attitude. Ackles puts all of Dean's pride and fondness into his voice as he asks Sam at the end, "So, uh, what? Aaron's a J.I., and... you're a Man of Letters now? Is that it?" Dean is always best when proud of his little brother, and Ackles knows just how to present it with grace here.
Jared Padalecki brought many facets to Sam in this episode. He showed the awe and excitement upon seeing the Men of Letter's library with sheer facial expression. In that moment, Padalecki makes Sam look like a little boy full of wonder. In that wonder, we can see the spark of joy ignite, as it settles over Sam that this is truly theirs. He shows Sam's drive well in choosing the case and pursuing it---and Sam's curiosity about the Golem. Padalecki also shows Sam's steel when facing down Eckhart. Although he is disarmed, his presence is still dominating. He doesn't have to rely on his obvious size to do it. Instead, Padalecki puts a hard edge into his voice and a cold expression on his face to communicate that Sam is still dangerous. In his interactions with Ackles' Dean, we see Sam's subtle amusement and hear a rich fondness in the timbre of his voice, especially on the line, "Are you gonna take off the dead-guy robe?"
Best Lines of the Week:
Dean: Our dad wanted us to have a solid career to fall back on just in case this "hunter" thing didn't work out.
Sam: You gonna take off the dead guy robe?
Dean: You mean, how do we "Oh No!" Mr Bill over there?
Aaron: Yeah, keep walking. You Chia-Pet.
Sam: How about you screw yourself, Nazi bastard?
Kevin has discovered the way to close the gates of Hell---but judging by God's obstacle course He doesn't seem to make it easy, now does He?
It took me a few watches and days of pondering to come to that conclusion about our boys. It just clicked as I thought about the Golem begging Aaron to "take charge" and it all made sense to me.
I agree, the boys are doing this because they choose to do so. They aren't doing it out of any destiny, and I think you're right. They've matured into men here, defining themselves and not letting anyone else do that for them.
Lovely review, like always. I really liked your "take charge" thread. It is true that by deciding what we can control and then taking action/taking charge we often gain the control & confidence we need to accomplish huge things. It's that whole journey of 1,000 kilometres (I'm Canadian) starts with but a single step. It also made me think of the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Forgive me, but it's late and I just got home from playing hockey, so I'm going to copy some of my thoughts..
I thought there were many parallels here - Aaron's legacy from Isaac, Sam & Dean's legacy from Henry. But also the chemistry between Aaron and the Golem echoed the chemistry between Sam & Dean. No doubt there are times that they yell at each other about who's in charge, and who's too messy and who's breathing too loud (wait.. that's me & my sisters fighting when we were kids) But there was definitely a familial, intimate vibe between those two. I am so glad that the door was left open for them to return, because they are an excellent pairing.
Speaking of returning, I believe the Nazi Necromancers or the Thule at least will be back. Why? They gave a close-up shot of the ring, and the symbol on it 3 times!! That's gotta mean it's important. It's too intentional to be coincidental, in both filming and editing. I'm betting that the Thule will return. Or at least the symbol will somehow be significant with the Tablet, or Cas or Benny or Naomi. (Covering my bases here).
There's been much criticism that Dean seemed harsh, uncaring and somewhat ruthless this season. So I enjoyed the chance to see his more compassionate and protective side. I liked the way he automatically pushed Aaron out of the way and tried to shield him when the Nazis burst in, and the way he gently asked him if he was okay when it was all over.
I cheered Dean's "Good" at the end. It was so sweet and genuine and heartfelt. So much was said through that one small word - "I'm happy you're happy. I'm proud of your smarts. I'm pleased you're finding another aspect of yourself with this Men of Letters legacy. I love you."
I'm very pleased for Sam that the MoL allows him to finally express, and take pride in his geeky intellectual side (especially if that means more sweater vests - yum!! - and a change from being an FBI agent - more like that for both please?!)
It's funny because I doubt Dean acknowledges that he too has many of the Men of Letters characteristics . But he does. He was like a pointer dog when he caught sight of that scimitar. (Watch the way he whips his head around the instant he sees it.) That's a geek moment right there. And I really, really hope we get to see him do some research in the Batcave. Dean's good at research (remember his reading Samuel Colt's journal and finding out about the Phoenix ash?) I can totally see him researching a MoL book on weapons or spells or incantations.
I think both brothers relish accumulating information, but for different reasons. I think Sam loves learning, plain and simple. He collects facts and information because he enjoys it. The acquisition of knowledge both challenges and fulfills him. It's like he's painting a canvas, and the information is his palette.
Dean also likes accumulating information but it's a little different. He's collecting all those facts and data to solve problems, both in the present and in the future. I see him more as gathering intel like he's completing a jigsaw, fitting each into its place to solve the puzzle.,
I was very taken by Ekhart's line "Knowledge is Power", again spoken to Aaron, but equally applicable to Sam & Dean. The knowledge they have suddenly inherited through the MoL and the Batcave is immeasurable, and priceless. It will be fascinating to see what they do with all that information. And there are times when the pen is not only mightier than the sword, but it tells us exactly how to use the sword in the most lethal (or careful) manner!
I hope the writers don't let Dean slide into just the brawn/Campbell side of the family, or Sam into the brain/Wincheste r. Both brothers are fascinating and attractive because they are a combination of brawn and brain. Think of Sam quickly realizing those random letters & numbers were a Library of Congress call set & being able to shoot the bad guy in the head. Hot! And back in LARP & The Real Girl Dean's strategic smarts were front and centre when he immediately recognized what moves Charlie's army should make and being able to shoot the bad guy in the head. Hot!
It was so nice to end this episode on a contented note - the boys had a win. We had a win. Dean's choice of whiskey over beer was perfect. The moment deserved a little celebration.
And I would also like to add, I think Aaron & the Golem should come back. They were the most entertaining couple we;ve seen since Bobby (starting to sob again) and Rufus. I loved the quiet dignity of the Golem. He was amazing. And it was wonderful to watch Aaron's growing respect and appreciation for him. They could make a spin-off "Feat of Clay" (Get all the puns there?!)
I should probably go now.
I spent days trying to put together what I got from this episode---not because I didn't love it, but because Edlund had put together such a rich and moving story I just didn't know what avenue to take right away. Then it hit me. The Golem keeps saying "take charge!" and it all clicked. Sure, he was telling Aaron to do that, but really, as in SPN tradition, he could have been saying the same thing to the brothers.
I also loved that we saw some mature moments between the brothers. They were occupying the same space, taking different things from the experience, and yet respecting those differences and cherishing them. Sam may have given Dean some crap about the robe, but I detected this wonderful fondness in his voice. And Dean? Dean totally showed that under all of that gruffness and hard hunting instinct that he does care and love deeply.
I absolutely agree that Sam has finally found something in the hunting world that suits him well. He's always felt out of place in both the normal and the hunting worlds to a degree, and I think he's never quite thought about cataloging the supernatural just to do it. Here, the MOL have done just that and he's seeing things so differently. He is a knowledge seeker and a scholar of the highest order. And yet, I can't help but be taken by his take the bull by the horns attitude with Eckhart. Anytime he could have been shot to death by the other Thule in the room, but he didn't hesitate to show he's made of steel. And that shot he fires in tandem with Dean? Awesome and powerful.
I have to agree with you on Dean. He's always considered the less smart of the two brothers, and at times it can become a running gag, but Dean is so super smart. Hell, their primary weapon of rock salt rounds was his own device. He invented them out of his own sheer ingenuity. I also think that Dean's aversion to technology is sometimes overplayed. Dean can learn and hides that fact well. Look at what he did to his walkman, turning it into an EMF detector? Dean is smart as hell---but in a different way. Sam likes knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Dean is more resourceful with his knowledge. If he has a problem---such as how to use the Phoenix Ash against the Mother of All---he thinks his way through the problem and comes up with the most ingenious method to solve it. I think that's his inheritance from the MOL.
I, too, don't want to see either brother turned into one or the other, and I don't think that we will see that. I think this legacy is merely a fruition of the truth that's been there all along. The Winchesters are the elite of the supernatural world because each one is both brains and brawn in one---and combined they are unstoppable. I think that's another lesson they learned here about taking charge. They, as a unit, have to do that together for it to work. Otherwise they fail.
As for Aaron and his Golem, I would LOVE to see the two of them back. They were so loveable and endearing, each bringing something to the table and meshing well at the end. It's interesting that you think we'll see the Thule back, but it is possible we'll encounter them again. At least the brothers know how to handle them. I wonder in what capacity in the overarching story they would play.
As always, I always look forward to your comments! Thanks again@
We have great writers on this site, and I thank you for you hard work and I am only just a little bit jealous of all of your writing skills ha Carry on looking forward to the next article And yeah for season 9
I think that both brothers had to go through what they did in the first half of the season to get to this point. They are slowly maturing, and I like that. I'm finding that each brother is realizing what they have in the other now, rather than just taking it for granted because they're blood or family or any other reason. They're together as a brotherly unit because they want to be---not because it's expected.
I hope you'll enjoy my next take on the new episode---and I hope it won't be as late!
I like the taking charge aspect of it all. Dean & especially Sam coming to terms with the Men of Letters aspect of their life. I was so happy for Sam. When Dean turned the lights on and Sam saw that library, oh my, the pure joy on his face. Dean has always teased him about being a nerd when he uncovers lore on what they are hunting at the time, so yeah, that library is a big win for the lovable nerd! And man alive, imagine the research he'll be able to do there. And Dean finding his Batcave was as joyful as Sam finding his Alexandria. That boy sure does love his showers!
I was so happy to see Hal Linden! I loved "Barney Miller" so much in my younger years. He wasn't in the episode for long, but boy, he made quite the impact. And I really liked John DeSantis as the Golem. I couldn't remember where I'd seen him before, so I checked with IMDB. He was Freeman Dagget in "Ghostfacers". I must say, I liked him better this time round.
I absolutely loved how happy Sam was in the MOL Bunker. Seeing that library for the first time, realizing it was HIS and that no one had seen any of that information in over 50 years was just amazing. I loved that it also had aspects for Dean, and I have no doubt that as they settle into this new home we'll see them uncover more secrets over time.
I have to agree that I love De Santis more here, too. He was creepy as Dagget, but he was just loveable on screen here. And Linden totally knocked it out of the park for me. I had wanted to see him more in the ep, but that just wasn't to be!
Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, often called "TEP", founded in 1910.
For me the episode had a few pacing issues (seems to have been happening a lot this season - but that could just be my impression) and the climax was a a fraction underplayed but in terms of character and SPN-mythos I thought it was amazing.
Your review touches on everything that seemed important to me. Especially the emphasis on the Winchesters choosing their own place in the world of hunters/MOL. I like the idea that they are something which combines both the intellect/serio usness of the MOL and the experience/free dom of hunters. It seems to me if there is going to be any division of labour between the boys it will only be symbolic so that the audience can appreciate that something new is happening which combines those two worlds.
I really like that the brothers are a mixture of both brains and brawn, and while I think that's been there all along, seeing it defined this way has been a treat. I also love that we are getting to see the brothers arrive at that conclusion naturally here and that they're choosing this life on their own terms. It's always been thrust upon them more or less in the past, but here we're seeing them embrace it each in their own ways.
I really loved that Edlund wrapped that idea into the story with Aaron and his Golem. That really resonated with me, and on each viewing I did to write this review I picked up on a little more, another moment there or a key phrase there. I think it's what made me really connect with the story over all, and I have to agree that there is a great newness being added here with the MOL and new mind set of the brothers that makes it fresh for me.
I just hope we get to see more of that as we go along.