Episodes like â€œGoodbye Strangerâ€ can be so damned frustrating. Oh, donâ€™t get me wrong, it was a stellar episode, one of the best of the season, but it left me screaming for more. I want to know what happens next and I want to know now! (Commence major foot stomping and object throwing at this time).
Hee, sounds like writer Robbie Thompson did his job. As a matter of fact, Robbie Thompson has proved once and for all that he can do more that the novelty episodes. Heâ€™s truly in the upper echelon of the writing team, behind a little old someone we like to refer as â€œThe Edlund.â€ (Yes, thatâ€™s a compliment.)
I do have to admit, Iâ€™ve been struggling with verbal eloquence this week, trying to put into clever words just how awesome â€œGoodbye Strangerâ€ is as an episode. There are so many ways I could go with this review, because so much was packed into one hour. Since Iâ€™ve read Sofiaâ€™s, Elleâ€™s and sweetondeanâ€™s reviews (being the editor and all), Iâ€™ve decided to take a different approach. Iâ€™m going to dedicate the bulk of my review to a meta analysis on character interactions and dynamics. You know, all the little hidden things that we may or may not of overlooked because we were too focused on the kick ass story.
Sam and Meg
Sam and Meg have a long and very weird history. It was Sam that crossed paths with her first in â€œScarecrow.â€ As Meg so wonderfully brought up in their conversation (score one for continuity!) she did possess Sam for a week, so she knows his deepest desires. What wasnâ€™t mentioned was all the time they spent together in the bus station when they first met. Theyâ€™ve had a lot of hours together. When you get to know a person like that, itâ€™s hard not to want to talk personal stuff, but being a nosy demon helps too. â€œHow am I not team Sam?â€ She has a point there!
The reality is demons know how to push Samâ€™s buttons, especially when heâ€™s most vulnerable. Thereâ€™s a history with that (Ruby anyone?). The fact that Sam opened up to Meg and talked about his year with Amelia (without ever saying her name) is very fascinating, as well as completely in character. Sam only tends to talk about his problems when heâ€™s the most scared and wants to keep it from Dean, but everything is tearing him apart inside. I still fondly remember Samâ€™s open heart to heart with Chuck in â€œMonster at The End of This Book.â€ It was that talk that truly showed us how scared he was about using his powers and his hunt for Lilith. The same happened here with Meg. She like Chuck hit all the vulnerable spots.
Megâ€™s intimate knowledge of Sam isnâ€™t all bad though, for she truly sees the real man within. She sees the parts of Sam that Dean has never understood, and probably never will. She knew he wasnâ€™t okay with dying over whateverâ€™s afflicting him. I do love how she especially understood Samâ€™s year, and found his most out of character act to be stopping for the dog he hit, not leaving the life. I smile over these two even having this conversation, because they have come such a long way since Meg tied Sam up to a post and tried to molest him in â€œShadow.â€ Theyâ€™ve both been through so much. Meg was even offended that Sam and Dean didnâ€™t look for her, even once, despite all she did for the team. As Meg said, â€œCut me do I not bleed?â€ Fine, she probably started the cutting first, but thatâ€™s just a hidden twist to her real point.
I think Sam and Megâ€™s conversation satisfied me once and for all on this whole debate over why Sam didnâ€™t look for Dean. Not that I didnâ€™t buy it to begin with, but hearing Sam defend his actions again needed to be revisited, just in case there were those that didnâ€™t get it the first time. Sure, on the surface, Sam left everything behind because of a girl. But as Meg pointed out, or perhaps reminded us, it was that never ending buried desire to have a normal life that drove him to do what he did. To have a life away from things like her.
As Sam tried to explain to Dean in â€œWe Need To Talk About Kevin,â€ there are always going to be things out there. It can be another hunterâ€™s problem. They can only take so much. Think about it further. Sam at that point was truly lost. He was fresh off his recent extreme psychological torture from Lucifer that drove him to the nut house, and was affected in ways no one could ever understand. Iâ€™d like to think he believed he was given another chance, especially when he told Castiel in â€œReading is Fundamentalâ€ he thought he was done for. If he met Amelia shortly after Deanâ€™s disappearance, of course heâ€™d take advantage of that one thing in his life that he wanted the most, but had always eluded him. Dean would have wanted it that way.
Meg did ask Sam how he met his â€œunicorn.â€ In thought circles, finding your unicorn is someone in your life who represents tension between desire and impossibility (http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/who-is-your-unicorn/). That brings me to...
Meg and Castiel
I think Meg strangely understood Samâ€™s desire because in a twisted way itâ€™s herâ€™s as well. Her unicorn is none other than the trenchcoated angel.
In her long, flirty conversation with Castiel, Meg longed for better, simpler times, when a demon could be a demon. Thatâ€™s a normal life for her. Circumstances of late have put her on the good guys side, something that didnâ€™t exactly sit well with her. Iâ€™ve always been fascinated by Castiel and Megâ€™s attraction to each other, and this tender moment between the two, without going too far, was the ideal conclusion to their story together. Alas, it could never be, but the idea was certainly fun. What demon wouldnâ€™t want to â€œmove furnitureâ€ with a hot angel? What viewer wouldnâ€™t want to see that?
Iâ€™m glad that the Meg story was given a rightful conclusion. After all, sheâ€™s the only recurring character from season one left, so thatâ€™s some history. She earned redemption, even if her motivation in helping Sam, Dean, and her angel unicorn was to screw over Crowley. If she had lived, eventually her loyalties would have fallen back to self preservation. She was after all, a demon.
As for Castiel, his feelings for Meg were clear, even if he didnâ€™t truly understand them. I loved when he looked at Naomi with near panic over the idea of killing Meg. He clearly didnâ€™t want to do it, and that look told us how truly fond he is of her. Itâ€™s these subtle undertones and facial expressions that tell so much more story than just words. This is the â€œshow, donâ€™t tellâ€ aspect of storytelling thatâ€™s been missing in a lot of the scripts of the last few seasons. Lucky for Cass Naomi did see the value in keeping Meg alive, so he didnâ€™t have to face that burden. I would have been extremely sad if Cass had been the one that killed her.
Dean and Castiel
Cass did however have to kill Dean. That was Naomiâ€™s main purpose of this mission, as well as retrieving the angel tablet. Programming Castiel to remove his feelings for Dean was priority one, leading to one of the best damn openings this show has had in a very long time. Iâ€™m not sure I understand yet why it was just Dean that had to die, unless she figured heâ€™d have no problem killing Sam if he tried to get in the way.
sweetondean touched on this so perfectly in her review, but Naomi didnâ€™t understand Castiel. Itâ€™s been the same problem thatâ€™s plagued all the angels, they donâ€™t understand humanity. Castiel has been touched by humanity primarily through his relationship with Dean - and a lesser extent Sam and Bobby, so he canâ€™t ever go back to his pure angel ways. As long as the other angels donâ€™t see that, theyâ€™re up for a big failure. Castiel canâ€™t even die! He has that resurrection curse that wonâ€™t go away.
Dean canâ€™t find it in himself to give up on Castiel, despite all thatâ€™s happened, just like he canâ€™t ever give up on Sam. He feels responsible for him. He doesnâ€™t trust him because of past indiscretions but he needs him and believes in him. Itâ€™s that core faith that has gotten Dean through everything so far (which is why I find the comment that he only trusts himself to be bogus).
Deanâ€™s faith and unwavering support in Sam and Castiel, two very flawed beings thrust unwillingly into universe altering roles, is the true core of this show and the one constant that holds everything together. Without Dean, these beings of destiny would have crumbled long ago, and the earth along with it. His pleas donâ€™t just happen for dramaâ€™s sake (although it makes for very good drama). They happen as the reminder that without needing and believing in one another, theyâ€™re all as good as dead. Thatâ€™s a huge power. Itâ€™s also some awesome continuity. Yes, I noticed the parallels between Deanâ€™s beating from Castiel and in â€œSwan Songâ€ at the hands of Samifer. Thereâ€™s no other way for it to play out.
Part of me thinks that Castiel ran with the tablet to protect Dean. He has to have Deanâ€™s welfare in mind because he didnâ€™t kill him as ordered, but he knows that Deanâ€™s plan to take the tablet to the prophet isnâ€™t the right one either. Who knows what was going through his mind on that bus, but I got the impression that he believes heâ€™s doing the right thing, even if he had to leave Dean behind.Sam and Dean
By getting Sam to admit the truth to him, Dean was getting Sam to admit the truth to himself. Poor Dean though, heâ€™d had it with all the deception by then, not just from Sam but Castiel. He just didnâ€™t want the truth at this point, he craved it. Truth is the one thing he needs the most. It help keeps him centered and focused, knowing what is real and what isnâ€™t. He can deal with situations better when he knows what theyâ€™re facing.
Sam lies to himself more than anyone. He always has. The trouble is, when he keeps stuff from Dean, itâ€™s not because he truly wants to deceive his brother. Itâ€™s just by telling Dean about his woes, heâ€™s admitting to himself that he has a problem he canâ€™t handle. Itâ€™s hard to be vulnerable like that in front of the guy that relies on your strength to get through the day. Like all younger siblings, he doesnâ€™t want to let big brother down. Itâ€™s the classic case of denial, close your eyes and maybe itâ€™ll go away.
When Dean keeps secrets, his methods are a bit different. Heâ€™s doing it to protect, but it eats him up inside. He holds onto it in until the truth comes out at the wrong time. He knew something was up with Sam, but it wasnâ€™t until he found the blood stained napkin in the trash that he realized how bad. He didnâ€™t say anything though until he had to, which happened to be right in front of Castiel and Meg. Sure that made Sam angry, but even he knows what pushed the outburst. Keeping Dean in the dark never works out well, no matter what the reason.
Iâ€™ve heard the open outcries of â€œWhy canâ€™t Sam be completely honest with Dean?â€ Itâ€™s just not that simple. Both brothers have a hard time being completely open with one another. Itâ€™s not that they donâ€™t share, but theyâ€™ve never been able to share their deepest, darkest hopes and dreams. Probably because itâ€™s corny, and each one knows the other wouldnâ€™t understand it. Remember Dean in â€œDream A Little Dream For Meâ€ when Sam was there to see his dream about Lisa? How he was mortified that Sam saw that? As much as Sam and Dean care for each other, and love one another, they arenâ€™t a married couple. They have separate paths and desires, and theyâ€™re together because they have no one else in this world. Staying focused on the job and watching each otherâ€™s backs is what helps them stay alive.
Crowley and Naomi
Kind of hard to ignore these two, even if their reunion was very brief. So, these two have a history huh? Not shocking, although I was surprised it went back as far as it did. Iâ€™m buying into this theory (Ardeospina is so good at these) that Crowley is an angel, but I say he once was one and fell. Thatâ€™s how the first demons really got started. Naomi didnâ€™t buy his act and quickly left. Iâ€™m hoping if anything comes out of this, itâ€™s that Crowley reveals to Sam and Dean what he thinks is Naomiâ€™s real purpose is, and that perhaps heâ€™s the lesser of two evils. I do so believe that statement to be true.
I tried to think through the whole â€œHow can Crowley be Fergus McLeod?â€ argument, but honestly, it made my brain hurt (as does this entire analysis). I can come up with theories as to how that can work and how it canâ€™t, but letâ€™s just say Iâ€™m not ready to shout â€œcontinuity error!â€ Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a good explanation for that, but theyâ€™re not ready to drop that bomb yet. If Iâ€™m wrong, well, itâ€™s another thing for fans to bitch about.
Processing the whole thing
So, after all that thinky stuff, where does the latest events leave Sam, Dean and Castiel? As for Cass, itâ€™s good to know that greyhound busses all come with angel masking properties. Think about it, the only other time he was hidden from angels was Purgatory. Greyhound bus/Purgatory. Hmm, I think they got that right.
As for Sam and Dean, Iâ€™m glad that theyâ€™re both on the same page, but I am getting a bit tired of the hand wringing about the trials. Samâ€™s been coughing up blood for three episodes now. Iâ€™m glad that at least this week they showed some issues with weakness during a fight, but theyâ€™re certainly dragging this out, arenâ€™t they? Next week looks like filler, so weâ€™ll have to wait a small bit longer. But none of that reflects on the great episode that came this week, so Iâ€™ll just save that nitpick for something important, like next week.
Thank you Mr. Thompson, Iâ€™m giving a big A for you. A lot can happen in six episodes, so we fans need to relax as see what comes of it. Weâ€™ll have a nice long summer hellatus to analyze the finer points.