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"When you create stories, you become gods of tiny, intricate dimensions unto themselves." I love this line to pieces and I kind of imagined Ben Edlund laughing maniacally after he wrote it, with lightning flashing across his face, accompanied by the sound of thunder! Then, he'd giggle.
"The Great Escapist" was peppered with that kind of dialogue. Lines that made my ears ring with joy and my heart bleed for the characters I love so much. The dimensions that Edlund creates truly are intricate. Here we have, not simply an experienced writer of the show "Supernatural", but an experienced writer, an experienced, gifted writer. A writer whose talent for story telling allows an episode like "The Great Escapist" to exist and beyond that, to make sense, be cohesive, emotionally powerful, edifying and profoundly satisfying. We had 3 concurrent stories, all which managed to intersect, informing each other, connecting and ending in a flurry of wings and screeching tyres.

In thinking of this episode, I thought back to the last two seasons and Ben wrote the 3rd last episode both times. "The Man Who Would Be King" and "Reading is Fundamental" were both complex stories whose job seemed to be to get all the season's ducks in a row for the final two episodes. Actually, throw in "The Devil You Know" from season 5! I can just see the writer's meeting,"Don't worry about it, Ben will pull it all together!" I'm being sarcastic of course, but it really looks like that! He's the guy who can get all the threads, pull them together and weave a doozey of a story out of them.

I'll freely admit I was a tad thrown by the beginning of "The Great Escapist". I totally had to check I was watching the right episode! In a matter of seconds, my brain went,what, dream, flashback, wait, hang-on, that's not Sam and Dean,.ohhhhh. Ok, I'm good. It'd been a long assed day,  Crowley's little dog and pony show was pretty ingenious, but crikey is he one hell of a powerful demon. He created an alternative boat and some kind of portal thing? His demon lackeys can shapeshift into Sam and Dean? The more we see Crowley this season, the more he doesn't seem like your garden variety crossroads demon made good.

I'm thrilled that Kevin beat him at his own game. If we could tell there was something off with Sam and Dean, Kevin would be able to, beyond the fact that they were a little bit too polite. Kevin's play to catch them in a devil's trap and then blast Herb Alpert at them was fantastic. Kevin was certainly showing off his advanced placement brainpower. This was by far my favourite appearance by Kevin. He was pretty awesome.

I'm totally baffled by Naomi and to be honest, a little over her. I'm starting to think she's not got any grand plan, more that she's middle management who has screwed up and is now in a tight spot trying to sort it out. Sort of like Zachariah in season 5. She can't control Castiel; the precious angel tablet is out of her reach. She's getting more panicked and taking more extreme steps. Quite frankly, I'm hoping someone angel-blades her before the season is out. Preferably Cass. I don't know if I believe anything she told Castiel about his history, she's a nasty, manipulative cow. Except that he could never be controlled. I totally loved that.

This is why Cass has always struggled to follow the rules and has embraced freewill and humanity, because he's always been a bit of a rebel. He's never been like the other angels. We've seen him resist and fall and make mistakes over and over, just like a human would. Apparently the CIAngels have be wiping his mind as they do all angels, returning him to his factory settings, but something in Cass keeps returning to who his is and not who they want him to be. He has hope where as the other angels, like Ion, have none. It makes Cass even cooler. I loved that little nugget about him.
I also thought the mind wiping thing was interesting. There's been a lot of mind wiping going on! Castiel and Kevin have both had their minds wiped and if you think about it, so have Sam and Dean, multiple times. Every time they died and went to Heaven, their memories were erased before they were returned to Earth. Was anything else lost along the way? Is this why Sam is starting to remember things from their childhood that Dean either doesn't remember or only remembers when prompted? Because Sam is being returned to his factory settings by doing the trials?

When we first discovered the trials, the nature of them, that the reward was closing the gates of Hell, the primary reason the Winchesters were so gung-ho seemed to be revenge. Well Dean saw it as revenge, against all the demon SOBs that have made their lives a cavalcade of nightmares, who murdered their parents and friends, who manipulated Sam's life and who tortured Dean for 30 years. Sam also saw it as their way out, a step closer to freeing them from "the life", a step closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. I always thought, you know, when push shoves, if the payoff of closing the gates of Hell doesn't balance against the cost, they could choose not to do it. I thought maybe Dean might say, "No more, Sam it's killing you, it's not worth it, we're walking away." Not that we know Sam's illness would necessarily stop, in fact it probably wouldn't if this week was anything to go by. But now, now, this feels like the most personal quest the Winchesters have ever undertaken,not because it will lock down Hell for all eternity, but for what it will do for Sam, or rather for how Sam feels about himself, how Sam perceives himself. This quest is desperately important to Sam.
Sam, through no fault of his own, has been marred by evil. The demon blood that runs through his veins has tied him to Azazel and to his destiny as the vessel of Lucifer. He's felt like a freak his entire life. Even at school. I always thought in the early days he felt like a freak because of his lifestyle as a child of a hunter, because of his knowledge of what's really out there in the dark, because of his training and skills, because they hopped from town to town, from school to school,but in this episode we find out it is, and always was, much deeper than that. Sam feels he's not clean and here's the kicker, he always has. He always felt like there was something not quite right about him, that he wasn't pure. Whether that was just his gut instinct telling him he was different, or whether he got that vibe from John? We don't know when John cottoned on to Sam's demon ties. We don't know whether John treated him differently because of that. I'd always assumed John didn't want Sam to go to Stanford because, 1. He wanted him with the family and 2. He couldn't look out for him there. Well yeah, but now I'm thinking the looking out was for a whole different reason. John told Azazel that he'd known for a while that Sam was different. Now I'm wondering what that while was. Now I'm wondering if he wanted to keep such a close eye on Sam because of the demon blood, because he knew that Sam being alone opened him up to a whole different threat. Which of course we found out was the case. Because the demons got into Sam's life and into his world and moved him like a piece on their chessboard to get him where they wanted him to be. But then, that had been going on his entire school life, before he went to Stanford. Maybe this knowledge, if gained early on, was also why John made such a point of telling Dean to look out for his little brother and was so harsh on him when he made a mistake. I mean, it wasn't simply babysitting, even the times we've seen John tell Dean to look out for Sam, it seem to be beyond impassioned. It was so ingrained into Dean by his father, that he's been doing it every since and he's even said, it defines him, it's who he is.

So, did Sam sense he was different because of what was inside of him, or did he sense he was different because John treated him differently (unintentionally I'm sure), because he knew the truth. Whichever way, Sam has had these feelings of being not clean since he was a child. Breaks my damn heart.
Sam believes the trials are purifying him. Whether this is metaphorically speaking or physically, I guess we'll find out soon enough. I'm in the physically school of thought for now. I think the coughing up blood is the demon blood. I think he is so sick because his body is rebelling against itself, like antibodies (not literally) are attacking his blood from within and forcing a change. Like, say if you got the wrong blood transfusion, how ill you'd be because the antibodies in your natural blood would start to reject and attack the foreign blood. Actually you'd get a fever first, I looked it up. The question is; would someone who does not have demon blood in them have the same kind of reaction?
I went back to the script for "Trial and Error" to have a look at Kevin's original words, "Whosoever chooses to undertake these tasks should fear not danger, nor death, nor... A word I think means getting your spine ripped out through your mouth for all eternity." So, maybe this whole thing is tougher on Sam than it would be on anyone else, because of his blood? Or maybe other people would be cleansed in other ways? If Dean ended up doing the actual trial, how would he have been affected? On the flipside, because of Sam's blood, should he complete the trials, the reward would be two fold, because the gates would be closed, and Sam would be cleansed of the demon element forever (maybe).

When Sam stood in front of Dean and told him that he remembered his brother telling him stories of Sir Galahad and how he always knew he could never be like that, "Because I'm not clean. I mean, I w— I was just a little kid. You think... maybe I knew? I mean, deep down, that— I had... demon blood in me, and about the evil of it, and that I'm— wasn't pure?" I felt totally devastated. That Sam had been carrying this with him all this time, along with everything else? I think my face was like Dean's,I mean, what do you say to that? "Sam, it's not your fault". How much would it hurt to hear that sadness in your brother's voice? See that pain on his face and those tears in his eyes and know he's always felt like that? Jared delivered those lines better than I think he's delivered any lines ever before. I felt those lines. Felt them. It was such an emotional and physical performance. It's almost like in that moment Sam was totally redefined for me, or maybe defined. It's like I got hit over a head with a hammer and there was Sam, telling me who he really is and how he really feels and it was unbelievably powerful and for me at least, felt long overdue.
I want Sam to be cleansed of the blood. For him. No one else is judging him on it, like Dean said, it's not his fault, but it's how he perceives himself and that's worse. He doesn't see himself as wholly human, even though he is so very human. It's more than our blood that creates our humanity. But like Pinocchio, he wants to be a ‘real boy' and this is something that's haunted him since he was a child and probably a big reason he craves the safe "normal" life.

When Sam said, "But we're heading somewhere. The end." I felt like he wasn't just talking the end of the life that they've been forced to live, or that light at the end of the tunnel he's taking Dean to, or demons roaming the earth, I felt like he was talking about an end to his plight, an end to feeling like he does, an end to feeling like there's evil living inside him, an end to the feeling of not being clean, however that end presents itself. Damn. Such good stuff.
All this got me thinking about the finale and the title, "Sacrifice". I've been thinking and musing and writing it wherever for a while now, that maybe the sacrifice isn't a death or isn't only a death. Maybe it's that the brothers have to make a choice because the cost of closing the gates is too high, either on a personal or Universal level. Metatron pretty much said they'd have to weigh the prize against the outcome, "Ask yourself: what is it going to take to do this, and what will the world be like after it's done?" I've been asking exactly the same thing. Why is the big picture and the possible ramifications not being considered? I think it's because this quest is so personal to the Winchesters that they're blinded to everything else and that's where the sacrifice comes into play. With Sam's plaintive speech about always feeling like he wasn't clean or pure, I don't believe Dean will try to stop his brother no matter what, because it's obviously so important to Sam, maybe the most important thing he's ever faced, on a personal level. But if the outcome of closing the gates is something that creates a bigger problem, or hurts innocents, or destroys the Universal balance, will Sam sacrifice his chance at being rid of the demon blood forever, for the greater good? Is that the sacrifice? Because now, that seems pretty huge, way bigger than just giving up the ideal life and the white picket fence.

Then there's Metatron and how he plays into all this. I liked him. I like that "Supernatural" totally turns angels upside down. From nasty creatures like Uriel, Zach and Naomi, to Gabriel and his love of Casa Erotica and now Metatron who ran for it and holed himself up reading about the world instead of experiencing it. It was a cowardly thing to do, Sam was right. He could see humanity losing its way, but he chose to just sit back and simply read about it. Consequently, he missed the biggest story of all, the one with an Apocalypse, a couple of boys, an old dude in a trucker cap and an angel in a trenchcoat. He had no idea who the Winchesters were. How funny was Sam's line! "What kind of angel are you? We're the freakin' Winchesters!" I laughed out loud!

It was Dean's angry story of Kevin that made Metatron take stock and save the embattled prophet, just in the nick of time! He did some wicked damage to Crowley too. Pretty powerful for a secretary angel from the typing pool.
I'm most interested to see where we go with Metatron over the next couple of weeks, how his knowledge will play into the endgame of the season, how desperately the sides will try to get their hands on him. Crowley will want him for sure, to read that angel tablet. Naomi will want him for sure, because he would be a prize (and she's a pill). By the way, do you think that was the real angel tablet Cass had shoved inside himself or do you think it was a stunt tablet?

There was so much to take onboard in "The Great Escapist" I loved every moment Sam and Dean were together. From the MoL and Dean trying to make Sam eat, to all the little nods to the brother's history, John's soup, the childhood memories, Dean reading Sam books and holidays neither could remember before Sam got ill. Beautiful stuff that further enriches their story and our understanding of them.

I loved that Sam used something he'd learnt at Stanford. Hey, if Sam had never gone to college, he wouldn't have known about that symbol, they wouldn't have tracked that tribe, (don't say Indian, Dean), they wouldn't have found Metatron... I love that Sam is now connected to the scribe and is resonating. That was super cool.

I loved that Edlund had Dean kick himself for not bringing Kevin to the bunker. I loved that Edlund had Crowley define the brothers, "Your slang. Special K, nose to the God-stone, that's the way Dean speaks. Sam is... more basic, more sincere. Remember, I want two distinct, authentic characterisations." Hilarious! It's like the man is reading our minds,or our blogs!

I love that Dean is, at every turn popping out an arm or something for Sam, just in case he falls. It's subtle, but it's there, just a slight movement towards Sam when he stumbles. I love that he's showing this support for his brother and that he's staying so strong. I feel like he's exuding strength right now, because he needs to appear steadfast for Sam and he needs to have the strength to be able to carry the emotional weight of what is happening. Plus, he also needs to be able to be there with Sam, physically to complete the trials,because as Sam's passing out proves, he can't do this with out his brother standing by his side, no matter how much he seems to be able to keep moving forward against the craziest of odds. The trials is and always was a two-man job.

Dean's doing me in this season. He's turned in to a remarkably, beautiful man. (Sorry,hey, my name is sweetondean, you gotta expect me to do this now and then I'm kinda in love with the guy!)
Look, I could go on and on and on about this episode because so much happened and so much was set up for the final 2 episodes of the season. The performances, as usual, were all top notch. Jensen and Jared continue to blow me away, week in week out. Mark Sheppard was chewing up the scenery like a, well like a demon! Misha's Castiel,his face in that BigGerson's montage, gah. Osric, Curtis,everyone.
I literally have no idea where we're going, what's going to happen or how I'm going to handle it! I'm with Dean, "Cure a demon. Okay, ignoring the fact that I have no idea what that actually means,"  But I think they may be digging up someone's head pretty soon! I also think Mr Edlund is a genius, a master at what he does. I have a wee bit of a crush on him,or I want to be him,I can't decide which.

I'm going to leave you with something I never do, but, here you go.
I was kind of interested in the fact that Sam had a temperature of 107. That's HIGH! (By the way, you know that meant Dean must have brought his new thermometer away with them!) I remember when I had a temperature of 104 and the doctor was on the verge of sending me to emergency and I was SICK. So I googled 107 to see what the cut off point is (108 = deadski) and well,I found a couple of things. None of us believe that anything in "Supernatural" is done by accident right? The first one is a pearler!
In Psalm 107, there was a line that interested me:
20. He sent his Word and healed them, and delivered them from their pits.
I have no bible knowledge to speak of, but I read this and then read up about how Psalm 107 (very basically) is in thanks of God's forgiveness, in which he performs miracles and saved those that showed faith.
The Quran teaches that the people who are sent either to hell or to paradise will remain there forever. They will be there for eternity and never again leave these places.
In the Quran 11-107 discusses the nature of Hell.
They will dwell therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth.
I kind of liked the bit about the heavens enduring,
The number 7 in numerology and numbers relating to 7 – as in 107 – represent God in the material world, the spiritual in the physical world. It is considered a holy number.
In the Urban Dictionary – 107 denotes a miracle
(one-oh-seven) Used to describe a miracle (from just unbelievable stuff to real miracles). It comes from the divine number 7. The one-oh in front of it is just used to make it easier to pronounce (unlike seven-seven-seven).
107 is also the atomic number of the radioactive element bohrium and is the atomic mass of silver! I was googling subatomic!
I also found an article about subatomic stuff in the Universe. The scientist measured the distance of the earth to the sun in orange diameters – imagining the sun is an orange and calculating the average diameter of a Valencia orange – the earth is approximately 107 orange diameters from the sun! This article was subtitled,wait for it, Abandon All Hope! 
Is Edlund screwing with us?
But then again,Sam probably just had a really high temperature,

How did you like the episode? Let me know your thoughts. Mine of course, are just mine and I know I went out on a few wild tangents that may be complete rubbish, but this one got my brain working so I thought I'd throw it all out there,and if you got to the end of this review,thanks for sticking with it, I know it was a long one!


Kim J
# Kim J 2013-05-04 07:45
The further we go in the Winchesters' story, the more I love them. I have been a Sam girl since day one and seeing Sam demonstrate the kind of courage he is this season is blowing me away. Jared's performance from week to week just goes from strength to strength. I saw a comment the other day that the sicker/weaker/m ore affected Sam gets, the stronger Jared gets in the role. #TRUTH.

I have been wondering, myself, whether the sub-atomic changes in Sam were indeed purifying him of his demon blood, and it's nice to be on the right track. I'm scared for the sacrifice it will mean in the finale because we know that it isn't going to end up all sunshine and roses.

Crowley is my all-time favourite demon, and I agree, there is a lot more to him than we are led to believe. In some ways I don't want the gates of hell to close if it means losing him.

An all-round fabulous episode by the great Ben Edlund. I think your assessment of him is spot on, Amy!

Two more weeks of worry and then the torture of Hellatus. At least we know they will be back next season.
# KG_SPN 2013-05-04 08:16
Awesome review sweetondean. I particularly liked the last part with the 107 analysis (that's some great research). I think you are right... nothing is accidental when it comes to Supernatural, but I don't have further insights to offer on the subject... and Ben Edlund could well be screwing with us ;-)

I loved every moment Sam and Dean were together. From the MoL and Dean trying to make Sam eat, to all the little nods to the brother’s history, John’s soup, the childhood memories, Dean reading Sam books and holidays neither could remember before Sam got ill. Beautiful stuff that further enriches their story and our understanding of them.
I loved all this too... Dean has been looking out for Sam for the last few episodes and Jensen is playing it wonderfully. Sam's deterioration is distressing and, as you said, Jared is delivering some of his best scenes. I was totally floored when Sam told his Sir Galahad story :cry:

Osric also gave an incredible performance. Kevin's video choked me up, as well as Dean's reaction when he thought Kevin was dead. He was totally gutted. I know they were kicking themselves for not bringing Kevin to the MoL bunker and hindsight often leads to the 'what if we'd done it differently' scenario. But I've always maintained that they should keep Kevin away from the bunker because the angels and demons were looking for him. Sam and Dean do not want the wrong people finding the bunker... especially as they still haven't uncovered all of its secrets yet. So, I still believe that they shouldn't have taken Kevin there.

I loved Crowley in this episode and he had some gems with his lines. I wonder if Mark Shepherd told Jensen that he'd make a good Dean lol?

I'm really not sure about Naomi, but I found it very interesting that she addressed Castiel as 'Angel' in a very condescending way... almost as though she weren't an angel herself??

Metatron was a great new character and, being a writer myself, I totally loved his quote: “When you create stories, you become gods of tiny, intricate dimensions unto themselves.”

Anyhow... I could keep rambling... but I totally loved your review sweetondean. And, I've been totally enthralled by the last two episodes. Season 8 is definitely finishing on a high and I'm expecting the next two weeks to be an emotional roller-coaster :sigh:
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 08:29
I know they were kicking themselves for not bringing Kevin to the MoL bunker and hindsight often leads to the 'what if we'd done it differently' scenario. But I've always maintained that they should keep Kevin away from the bunker because the angels and demons were looking for him. Sam and Dean do not want the wrong people finding the bunker... especially as they still haven't uncovered all of its secrets yet. So, I still believe that they shouldn't have taken Kevin there.
Yes, this is what I have always thought too. If everyone is looking for Kevin, it's too risky to put him in the bunker. Should the contents fall into the wrong hands.... Remember the old MoL guy told them to destroy the key for that exact reason.

And I totally meant to put that bit about Naomi calling Castiel "angel" in this...but I forget. I thought it was weird, but in all honest, I'm not really interested in her...she needs to vanish in a ball of light bursting forth from her eye-sockets! :D
# KG_SPN 2013-05-04 21:49
That would be cool :lol:

But I suspect we'll still have Crowley and Naomi next season - I just can't shake the feeling that there's more to be revealed about both of them and it's bigger picture stuff that extends into season 9 and 10... :-?
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 21:53
Crowley is welcome...Naomi needs to die in a blinding white light! :D
# KG_SPN 2013-05-04 22:26
Is this one of those mantras? If you say it often enough it WILL definitely happen :lol:

By the way, I don't care for her much either... so might start meditating on your words "Naomi needs to die in a blinding white light"... collective power of thought aka Mordechai.

Also, I wonder if it'll be Dean killing Naomi... he has a habit of killing the more-annoying angels!
RGNYC Rebecca
# RGNYC Rebecca 2013-05-04 08:33
I love every word you've written, SweetonDean! You made me cry and laugh! There was so much to love in this episode and I think you covered it all. I agree with you about Naome. She is very much like Zach. Maybe even worse. I like how you explain the Grand Canyon visit as having been erased from Deans memory. They both prob don't remember so many things they did for each other as kids. I love the idea of Dean reading to Sam and my heart broke when Sam revealed his feeling tainted. Thanks for your awesome write up. Cheers.
# st50 2013-05-04 08:42
Your number research cracked me up, sweetondean! Loved it! Isn't it funny how this little show will really get us thinking down tangents like this! Of course, it's Edlund (my hero), so maybe it really is that deep..... and maybe it's just one H*** of a fever. :D

I have to say JP and JA were both excellent in this one. Yes, the sicker Sam gets, the better Jared performs - and the more subtly caring Jensen is. (I've heard people say that we've had almost enough of sick/hurt Sam and caring/protecti ve Dean. I agree that I'd like the writers to try a new twist, and yet, man, this is what the Js really do best!)
And Osric! Wow. I agree... best Kevin scenes yet.

Metatron didn't intrigue me nearly as much, but I think they can do a fair bit with his character in the next couple of episodes.
Naomi - I'm ready for her to die. (sorry!)
Crowley - oh yes. This was closer to the manipulative B**tard I expect him to be. He was getting a might too violent for my liking. The King should keep his hands clean and just direct the show. 8)

Sweetondean, this is how I've seen Sam from close to the beginning of the series, and why I'm more partial to Sam than Dean (who has his own self-worth issues, but that's another story ;-) ) ....
Not that I knew he was "aware" of being unclean from the demon blood, but that he was always feeling 'not-good-enoug h'. It broke my heart, but I was not surprised to hear that 4 year old Sam had felt unworthy of doing quests. No matter what he does - (save the world anyone? Live 24/7 with the devil in his head?) - Sam never feels he's good enough. Certainly not as good as Dean. ("I'm the least of you") I'm pleased he acknowledged it here - with the aid of the fever and resonance - and maybe, maybe he can find a way to seeing his own worth and goodness.
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 08:50
Yes, that's where the surprised laid for me too, that he's felt that way for so long. I'd always known he'd been plagued by it and it made him feel less whole, or as you say not good enough, but for so long? That really killed me and opened up a whole other layer to Sam. I know a lot of people have issues with Sam this season, but for whatever reason, I have felt more and more connected to him. I always loved him (I may be a Deangirl but that doesn't exlude loving Sam to pieces too), I just feel like I understand him better now.

The two of them...really, they're bloody great big heroes and they both think so poorly of themselves. Their self esteem issues are a shocker!

But, I mean, could they be any more awesome? *sigh* :cry:
# st50 2013-05-04 08:56

But, I mean, could they be any more awesome? *sigh* :cry:
I hope not. I don't think I could survive it. :D :-*
# KG_SPN 2013-05-04 22:36
Could they be more awesome? I don't think so; but they both seem to get better looking every year, don't they? Like fine wine... :lol:
# Ale 2013-05-04 09:39
Hi, sweetondean, great review!

Sam feeling unclean touched me the most in this episode, and the way you put it was so beautiful! I cried my eyes out!

I was confused by what you said, though:

Crowley’s little dog and pony show was pretty ingenious, but crikey is he one hell of a powerful demon. He created an alternative boat and some kind of portal thing? His demon lackeys can shapeshift into Sam and Dean? The more we see Crowley this season, the more he doesn’t seem like your garden variety crossroads demon made good
I thought it was Ion's doing! That was such an angel like thing, such as Zach, and the wipping Kevin's memory. What do you think.
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 12:36
Hi Ale

That could make sense. I figured it was Ion that assissted in taking Kevin from the original boat because of the wards, but I didn't put Ion as responsible for the rest too.

That gives me something to ponder! Thanks.
# krystal 2013-05-04 10:09
Wow! What a great review! I love seeing the way you connect all the pieces and pull it all back to the heart of the characters and the show! Ben Edlund is a genius and weaves a story so tight and chalk full of goodies I wonder if anyone can catch all of them?! But you surely do a great job of it!

I love where they are taking Sam right now. He went from the story of why didn't he look for Dean to the heart of his character bursting forth in a few little words, “Because I'm not clean." Never saw that one coming and I'm glad it is being explored. At first I was a bit leery that Sam was doing the trials and not Dean (as it only seemed like he should have), but now I know why and I couldn't love the story line more.

I love the protective big brother in Dean. He has really shined in this role in the past few episodes. It feels like season 2 all over again and I am loving every minute of it.

Kevin, Crowley, and Cas were all written perfectly in this episode and the acting was superb! Love the director Crowley and his inventive angel gun. Kevin's ability to figure things out is truly amazing and I am really enjoying his new found attitude towards Crowley (for some reason I see Bobby looking down and smiling at him now in my head and oh so proud of him). Cas never stops amazing me and I love the details about his past that keep expanding his character.

Naomi and Metatron are still growing on me. Not sure where they fit in, but I'm giving them a chance. Although I agree if Naomi were to be angel bladed by anyone it should be Cas!

J & J really hit a home run in this episode with their acting. The characters felt real and made me not want the episode to end.

Overall, loved this episode and looking forward to watching it again and again. I didn't want it to end in the first place and it left me wanting more and more and more ...
# DomWinchester 2013-05-04 10:34
I also find it interesting that it seemed like Crowley had taken a page out of Grandpa Henry's book to make the angel-killing bullet.
# st50 2013-05-04 10:53
The chemist in me is wondering what an angel blade could possibly be made of, and how you'd melt one down. :o

Maybe only hellfire can do it?

Can't imagine it would be something the Winchesters could do without help..... But what a great weapon that would be.... Would save them from having to get all up close and personal....
# fanotheboyz 2013-05-04 11:02
As usual, I'm SO happy to read your spin on things! I love how you see the details and looked at each character and how the web is so intricately weaved. It took me 2 rewatches to decide that I loved it. Now I'm wondering what it was that didn't give me the instant "love fest" feeling.

First, I think there was just so much packed in to one 42 min story. Yes, Edlund is a master at putting all the pieces together and I TOTALLY AGREE that is what happens in the writers' room, which means we need more top-notch writers like him and could stand to lose a few filler episodes each season.

Second, I just had to really absorb it, you know? There was just so much character exposition for Sam and Dean, new information with Metatron, and fascinating new tricks like the portal and Crowley's AU creation, the "angel blade bullet gun" and Kevin's new-found snakiness.

Initially, a few things seemed "off" with Sam, but I chalked that up to the fever and sickness.

Two things really disturbed me:
The Grand Canyon thing. Either they were there and didn't remember it, or they weren't and it was a BIG slip, especially since Edlund wrote the previous ep where they mentioned they had never been there. I'll choose to believe the former to give Edlund a break, but that should have been explained.

The other is the damn ice bath. Here, I blame the director. Dean would never have submerged Sam under water for fear of DROWNING him...duh. Just ridiculous! And it really sticks in my craw like when he was in the panic room, totally dressed, clean-shaven, with an IV for 10 days, and apparently never had to pee, or grow facial hair, and could walk up the stairs when he awoke. Yes, I'll accept all manner of supernatural things in their reality, but that's asking too much.

So that's my rant. That being said, the episode has grown tremendously on me after a few rewatches, for all the reasons you mention. And I can forgive 2 glaring errors for all the other good stuff. There was SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. All the actors really brought their A game and the pacing was nice. The dialogue was impressive, too.

I have one small request, Mr Edlund: Please, the next time Dean has to put Sam in an ice bath, I really want to see him haul his butt in there because that mental picture is hilarious. And I'd like to see him do it without trying to drown him. Now that's not TOO big of a request, right?
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 13:10
Hi fanotheboyz
I have to say the Grand Canyon thing didn't bother me, simply because of my own lack of memories - and my brothers. We moved to Australia from England when I was nearly 3 and he was nearly 9. Even at that age, my brother has no memory of England at all! My parents have constantly told me about holidays we took that I simply can't remember, even though I would have been around 8. My grandparents visited us when I was 8 and I don't remember any of it. I've seen the photos, but I don't remember. Not one single memory. So not remembering a holiday taken as a child, yeah...that's me, so I have no issue with that. Maybe if Dean actually said, "wow I'd forgotten about that", before he questioned how Sam remembered it? But I saw that in Dean's face anyway. I don't think he remember that at all, until Sam prompted him. Edlund gets a pass on that one from me.

As for the bath thing, I assumed Dean dunked him to wake him up. He was right there, Sam was in good hands. It was a great shot, seeing Sam burst out of the bath water like that. This is TV...creative license. It made for a cool scene.

And I agree, it would have been unbelievably entertaining to see Dean trying to heft Sam across the room into that bath! How I wish we got to see that! :D
# st50 2013-05-04 17:24
Just adding a personal note:

Helping small children retain memories takes work! We were in Europe for 3 years: when my girls were 3 and 5 yrs until they were 6 and 8yrs old. We toured a LOT....
We worked at making memories by keeping post cards on the walls, talked about places continually, and wrote/read journals of our travels.

My girls are now 20 and 22, and it amazes me what they remember and what they don't. Specific places and trips are hazy..... but they do have associations. The memories are there, but need some triggers.
They remember Salzburg when they see the Sound of Music; Vienna when they see Lipizzaner horses or hear Mozart. The trigger for Berlin is the wall and the zoo, for London it's the crows (at the tower), for Edinburgh it's a sword dance.

I'm guessing the Winchester boys wouldn't really remember those trips without their specific triggers, also, although the memories are there in their minds. Sam's trigger for the Grand Canyon was the farty donkey. Who knows why that came to mind at that specific moment. Maybe because the angel of the Word loves stories?
# KELLY 2013-05-04 19:52
I used to be a travel agent and my sister and I took trips with her kids once a year. One trip we drove 16 hours from KC to Chicago in a blizzard(it normally takes 8 ) than took a train from Chicago to Seattle. Stayed in a condo about 2 hours outside of Vancouver for a week. Drove to Vancouver several times that week and took a ferry to Victoria Island. Did countless activities including snow skiing and ice skating.

If you ask the older two what they remember they say the train and me going down the mountain on my butt skiing (I can't ski). The youngest remembers the pancakes on the train were good. And nothing else.
# fanotheboyz 2013-05-04 22:11
Yes, I agree. A pass on the Grand Canyon, all things considered. Not so much on the bathtub scene, though. Sorry, I'm a nurse, and I notice stuff like that, but I think it was just for effect...that's why I blame the director! I'm forgiving enough, though. I liked it despite my minor misgivings! Loved your review, as ALWAYS! :)
Texas Great Grams
# Texas Great Grams 2013-05-04 17:28
"Dean would never have submerged Sam under water for fear of DROWNING him...duh. Just ridiculous! .....Yes, I'll accept all manner of supernatural things in their reality, but that's asking too much."
As a matter of fact, I believe submerging someone with a very high fever in ice is an approved method of bringing their fever down immediately to prevent brain damage.
"I have one small request, Mr Edlund: Please, the next time Dean has to put Sam in an ice bath, I really want to see him haul his butt in there because that mental picture is hilarious."
I totally agree with that-although Dean is pretty strong. It would be just Sam's length that would be the biggest issue. But it would be so funny to see Dean struggle with Sam.
# fanotheboyz 2013-05-04 22:16
Just FYI, it is not an approved method anymore except for the most immediately life-threatenin g situations, which of course a 107 temp is. Now, they prefer to bring the temp down with meds as opposed to cool water to the skin, to prevent shivering, which raises the core temp. Not nit-picking, just don't want people to think this is the thing to do with a feverish kid or something.

And Dean, yes, very strong, and could muscle Sam into a tub for sure!
# E 2013-05-05 09:05
I guess my whole problem with the ice bath scene (which is actually not much of a problem at all, because I really liked it... wet Sammy!) is that Dean submerged Sam completely, head and all.... Why was Sam's head underwater? I've never heard of anyone doing that before? I am sure that the directors or PTB wanted that cool shot of Sam coming up from under the water... and it was cool, but I am pretty sure that you are never supposed to put someone's head under the water when they are unconscious, high fever or no.

Still, perhaps the demon blood allows Sam to be more tolerant of fevers and such. Remember in Sympathy for the Devil? Chuck told Sam that as he had been running a "fever" of 150 with a pulse of 210 when he had been killing Lilith. His eyes even went black for a moment. I think that a temp of 107 would kill most people and Sam was certainly sick, but that pesky demon blood makes him stronger in some ways even still. I'd love it if Sam was in fact the demon that they ended up curing, although I don't think it will go this way. I'd like it best if the demon they cure is someone who is meaningful to the show, which is why it's too bad that Meg is dead, but we don't have any demons right now that are well known to the brothers except Crowley and he's too good of a bad to cure IMO.
# KELLY 2013-05-05 12:48
E, within the context of the show, Dean could have been trying to bring down the temperature as quickly as possible since that is the brain most vulnerable to that high of heat, I think. And we only saw him under for a few seconds, it could have just been a long dunk. But I think mostly it was done for the cool shot. :D

I didn't really think the idea of Sam curing himself could work but you make a good argument. And I agree, I would like it to be someone connected to the show. I'm still pushing for Adam.
# E 2013-05-05 14:48
Yeah, I don't think it will be Sam curing himself, he's not really enough of a demon for it to count I don't think. I like the idea of Adam the best too, and I guess that it doesn't have to be Jake Abel who plays him, although it would be a disappointment for Adam to appear as someone other than Jake. There's also the added problem of getting him out of the cage first. While on earth he could appear as any old meat suit... but while he's in the cage he needs to appear the same as he did when he went in, which the Jake Abel. He's a big actor now, doing movies etc... so I would be pretty surprised if they got him to film AND managed to keep it a secret. We can hope though!
# KELLY 2013-05-05 15:10
E, I was thinking once he was a demon he would be black smoke that could escape the cage. And then he would be in Hell maybe? Though how the boys would know this, I don't know.

I'd definitely prefer to have Jake Abel, but it might even make more sense to have it not be him, depending on how they would do it. But I'm not getting my hopes up.
# Bamboo24 2013-05-05 23:27
My biggest problem with the ice bath was simply - where did Dean get all that ice? Surely it would've taken considerable time and effort to get that much ice into the tub. :P
# debbab 2013-05-04 22:43
Sam is soooo tall that one wonders how he fit into that tub. It would have made a very serious and well acted scene in a serious episode way too funny. Sam does say funny things when he is under the influence of a fever, or drunk. or looney. Do ya'll think Jared had to be in a real ice bath to shiver like that? Great acting either way. How many times did they have to shoot the scene? Don't you hope it makes the gag reel?
# njspnfan 2013-05-04 11:37
Nice review, SweetonDean. In S4x04 Metamorphosis, we got an in depth look at how having demon blood in him was affecting Sam, when he told Dean that he could never rip it out, or scrub it clean, and that he was a whole new level of freak. With finishing the trials, maybe Sam will be purified and get his "normal", and the demon blood will be ripped out and scrubbed clean.

I have a working theory on Crowley; there has been a lot of speculation that Crowley is more than he appears. He used a very unusual term when speaking to Kevin. He said "I'll be a son of a whore". The writers like to go back to old story lines that appeared to have been dropped; a prime example of that is the Croatoan virus in S2 that came back as a story at the end of S5. When Crowley talked to Naomi earlier this season, he referred to their time in Mesopotamia together. So what famous whores can be associated with Mesopotamia? Babylon was part of ancient Mesopotamia and in S5 99 Problems, Dean killed the Whore of Babylon. The Whore of Babylon is associated with the Beast of Revelation and the Antichrist. So, what if Crowley is the son of the Whore of Babylon?
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 13:17
Hi njspnfan
Yes, we've known that Sam has been plagued by his knowledge of the demon blood, but I assumed it was from when Azazel told him what he did in All Hell Breaks Loose I. Previous to that, I thought Sam just felt like he didn't fit, not that he felt like he wasn't pure or clean, that was a tragic shocker!

I thought that whore thing was super strange too! Then I kind of wrote it off as Crowley being a prat. But I like your theory a lot! That would be cool! And Dean killed her! Even cooler!
# njspnfan 2013-05-04 15:08
Hi njspnfan
Yes, we've known that Sam has been plagued by his knowledge of the demon blood, but I assumed it was from when Azazel told him what he did in All Hell Breaks Loose I. Previous to that, I thought Sam just felt like he didn't fit, not that he felt like he wasn't pure or clean, that was a tragic shocker!

I thought that whore thing was super strange too! Then I kind of wrote it off as Crowley being a prat. But I like your theory a lot! That would be cool! And Dean killed her! Even cooler!
Sweetondean - I think that conversation with Dean about not being clean explains everything about why Sam always wanted normal and to get away from the hunting life. At the beginning of the season, Sam indicated that this was it for him; saving Kevin and closing the gates. With the MOL storyline, and being cleansed as part of the trials, this gives the writers a logical way for Sam to remain as a hunter/MOL. While he won't have a normal life, he'll be normal/pure for the first time in his life and, at its core, that's all he's ever really wanted.

I had a sneaking suspicion on the trials, too. What if Sam completes the trials but they don't close the gates.... yet? It's only logical for Dean to perform the angel tablet trials next season. What if Dean completes the angel tablet trials, and they "pull the levers" together at the same time?
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 15:14
With the MOL storyline, and being cleansed as part of the trials, this gives the writers a logical way for Sam to remain as a hunter/MOL. While he won't have a normal life, he'll be normal/pure for the first time in his life and, at its core, that's all he's ever really wanted.
Yes, this is what I think too. I hope this is where they're going with Sam to bring him some peace with "the life". It feels like it is, after this week's episode.

And I love the double levers idea. It'll be interesting where this whole angel tablet thing ends up going, let alone the wrapping up of the demon tablet!
# TeresaPezzino 2013-05-04 17:15
"With finishing the trials, maybe Sam will be purified and get his "normal", and the demon blood will be ripped out and scrubbed clean."
Since this theory about Sam being purified of the demon blood showed up in fandom, it has been in my mind that THIS is really what Sam has meant all along about wanting a 'normal life'. THIS is what he was really running away from, even if he didn't consciously understand it. When Sam said the trials were purifying him, I had a total, eyes-blazing, fists in the air moment of YES YES! Oh Show. Eight years in and you just keep digging deeper and delivering the goods. Thank you.
# LoveMyCas87 2013-05-04 13:52
Love the review...Seems like a lot of your thoughts are in sync with mine. I love that you looked up 107..I didn't think there was a significance just that he had a high fever but I'm not the writer so what do I know? Maybe Edlund was trying to make a point of the 107.

Crowley and the "Son of a Whore" comment...I thought he was just being Crowley and needed a snarky comeback..I didn't think about the fact his words might be weighed with truth. If you're right and Crowley is not a demon...Do you think he's more concerned that the boys are closing Hell and will find out the truth about him? That would make for hell of a storyline...Fin ding out the real Crowley and why closing the Gates of Hell didn't stop him....aahh I just love reading other people's thoughts on the show. I am obsessed (gotta get my fix at least once a day!) and I know I drive my fiance nuts when I speculate and ask all these questions. He tries to listen, he likes the show too but I don't think he cares as much as we do. So it's nice to have other's so speculate with. So thanks guys, you're my best best friends! :P
# sweetondean 2013-05-04 13:55
Oooo wouldn't that be fun. They lock the gates and yet...there stands Crowley! Be a bit of a giveaway! :lol:
# LoveMyCas87 2013-05-04 13:53
*new best friends*
# Gwen 2013-05-04 14:54
What a fabulous review to a fabulous episode. The Sir Galahad scene nearly reduced me to tears and reading your review of that scene nearly brought on the waterworks again. Sam absolutely ripped me to shreds in that scene. Jared was amazing in this scene (and throughout the entire episode) and I loved Jensen's/Dean's quiet yet searingly intense reactions to Sam's pain. I've been a Sam girl since The Pilot but these last few episodes have had my love for Dean reaching epic proportions. The care, love and support that he's showing his brother...*sigh *...I practically melt just thinking about it. Someone upthread said that it feels like S2 all over again with the brotherly relationship the way it is right now and I agree. It's wonderful. As someone who took a very long time to start enjoying this season, it feels SO good to be loving this show once again. I love that Dean used to read to Sam when Sam was tiny and that he must have done the whole aeroplane/spoon trick to get Little!Sam to eat his food. Bless him.

I so want Sam to be cleansed of the demon blood and to get his chance to be a 'real boy' at last. I am so worried that this might, somehow, go horribly wrong in the finale.

I've had huge issues with Sam's story and how he's been written this season but suddenly, with this episode, we've been taken right back to the very heart of Sam and to how he's always felt about himself, to the heart of his story, to the beginning of his journey and those early scenes in The Pilot when that shadowy figure stood over Baby!Sam. I love that the demon blood story has made a reappearance. I've spent most of this season feeling not very charitable towards Jeremy Carver but, right now, I kind of love the guy. :lol:

Thank you for such a lovely review.
# Trucklady 2013-05-04 14:57
sweetondean another lovely recap! I loved your analysis of the numbers 107. I agree with your thoughts and just love the way you dissect each character so colorfully. I too am a Dean girl but have always held a special place for Sam also. The acting of these two main guys just never ceases to amaze me.

Jared just knocked it out of the park this week. I felt his pain and then his humor on the farting donkey was just hilarious. He portrayed so many different emotions that it was like a roller coaster ride. I feel that he is being purified also with these trials (at least I am hoping that is what is happening). Jensen also does so much with just expressions and mannerisms. He has always been there for Sam but now it is even more obvious. It was really cool to find out just how much of a caretaker he was with Sam as kids even though we have always had some insight on that.

Kevin was just awesome in his courage to stand up to Crowley and his smirky remarks and looks just made me laugh and feel good all over. Someone giving Crowley some of his own medicine and out smarting him for once. :-)

The whole mirage boat thing had me going at first and I actually had to rewatch it several times before it started to make sense and even now I'm not sure I am on the right track.

Metatron is nothing like I expected but I like where his character is at. I think he will be a true asset to the guys in the next two eps.

I agree that Naomi is coming across like another Zach and I don't trust her or even like her at this point.
# Amyj 2013-05-04 16:18
Amazing review SweetonDean. I loved your ideas about John probABKY knowing about Sam and the demon blood. But then...why would he kick Sam out of the family? Why would he let Sam feel so isolated? Why wouldn't he try to keep the lines of communication open? We know John often checked up on Sam ....was it part of some plan to use sam to lay a trap for Azazel or another demon? But that doesn't mkake sense with what we know of Brady.

I loved Kevin, loved his suspicons of fake Sam and Dean. Though I have to wondher how Crolwy wouldn't know Sam and Dean are a little rough around the edges toward people. He's the one SN creature, the one edemon who has never underestimated the Winchesters. It seemed a pretty big slip up for Crowly.

NAomi is boring. I can't seem to care about her or her motivations...w hatever they are. Its 2 episodes left shouldn't we know what the Angel tablet is for? Why she wants it and if she wants to prevent someting or use the tablet for something?

I'm tired of the Angels being in one of two camps: Murderous psychopaths or cowards who ran away and played possum. I really liked ION and his doubts and disgust at being in Naomis filth. I really wish Castiel had talked him into switching sides. Imagine if Dean had simply stuck a knife in Cas' kneck with out attempting to connect with him. I don't think it would have taken much to get ION to switch sides but then again.... ION was a double agent and time was of the essence.

adn I still can't beleive how much i hurt for that poor waitress with the burned out eyes pleading on a loop for Cas to stop. Poor woman deserved more then just getting her neck snapped by Naomi. The withc needs to go down THIS season. with NO mercy.
# EireneS 2013-05-04 16:46
When Sam and Dean confronted Metatron, he noticed that Sam was vibrating to him and was pretty far along on the trial to close the levers-plural. How many levers are there and what are they to? One for hell, one for heaven, one for purgatory, one for earth OR more than one for hell? Or what?
Texas Great Grams
# Texas Great Grams 2013-05-04 17:06
Absolutely amazing write-up for one of the best episodes ever. You have such insight into both the writer's mind and the characters. Ben Edlund knows these characters better than any other writer, I think, and Jensen's AND Jared's performances as Dean and Sam get better with each episode. Why this show hasn't won multiple Emmys for writing, directing and acting is beyond my comprehension. I always love reading your commentaries because it shows you love the show as much as I do.
# LEAH 2013-05-04 17:16
Hey, Jo1027, come back and comment! (sorry sweetondean for using your thread, just trying to get Jo to come back on)
# Joyful 2013-05-04 17:51
Thanks Amy, great review for a great episode! :-) Loved everything about it, but for me Osric really sold me on Kevin's anguish in the video to the boys and his almost zen-like interaction with Cowley. Go Kevin!! Loved Dean's attempts to help Sam, even when not appreciated - you are right, it is hard-wired into every fibre of his being. He has such a big heart, as I said with how he interacted with Charlie last week, and it seems to be ever-growing to include new people important to him - loved his reaction to Kevin's video and speech to Metatron. Mr Edlund should get an award for such great story-telling but in the absence of anyone sensible enough in the industry to give him one, he will just have to make do with the love of us fans! :lol:
Jackie L. Vester
# Jackie L. Vester 2013-05-04 18:24
I really enjoyed ypur review and agreed with most of it. I do like Naomi. Well I guess "like" is the wrong word. I think she's a good villian. I'm not crazy about Kevin. Everytime he's on the screen I miss Chuck more and more. Yeah he finally got the balls his mother had at long last but it took a lot of whining to get there.
That's the only part I didn't agree with you. I agree with what you said about Jared's performance so much. I mean I was absolutely blown away by that whole "I'm not clean" speach. I have never wanted hug a TV character in my whole life as I did then. The expression on Dean's face was dead on. These two actors play off of each other so well. I have a little brother myself . I don't know what I would do if he came to me with that. The self loathing was just devastating. Dean honestly didn't know what to say. What do you say to something like that?? Dean's "It's not your fault" was perfect but sadly it didn't help.
I just wish these two actors would get the credit and respect they so deserve. Thank you so much for the awesome review.
# Shelley 2013-05-04 18:49
Dude, you weren't joking about the thinky thoughts!! Nice work, Amy.
I was also thrown at the beginning of the ep, with Crowley's Sam and Dean, I thought I'd missed something and had to start over!
This was a beautiful, beautiful episode, and I'm so excited - and terrified - for the last two of the season. Jared acted the shit out of this one and totally broke my heart. I think this was Osric's best ep so far - the more I see him, the more I like him. I REALLY can't wait to meet him, I think he's adorable! And Jensen... there are no words for how much I love him and Dean. And Mish Mish of course. I do like his face.
Awesome, awesome review lovely, you went above and beyond for this one! xx
# KELLY 2013-05-04 20:17
sweetondean, great review as always. Loved the 107 stuff. Very interesting and you never know with Edlund.

I loved every single moment of Sam and Dean in this episode too. I just love the way Edlund writes them, especially Sam in this episode. I have to admit the info that Sam has always seen himself as unclean didn't surprise me though. I've always gotten the impression that Sam sensed something wrong in himself and that was why he was always withholding info from Dean at the beginning of the series. For example, his first instinct on having visions is that it is something bad and something to be hidden. Yes he said he was hiding them because of the Jessica vision he ignored but I always thought he just didn't want Dean to know about them. Like he knew they were somehow wrong. And that was before they knew they were connected to YED. And that belief was reinforced every season into S5. In S4 I thought he lived in denial about drinking DB partly because the wanted so desperately to prove that idea wrong (he said as much in Metamorphosis) But only ended up making the best case ever that some was inherently wrong with him. And I don't think he has ever lost that idea. So this didn't come as a surprise to me but I don't feel like Sam has had enough of a voice for a while so I was extremely happy to have confirmation.

But I've have a tendency to make them both a little emo at times, especially Sam. So it could have been that tendency run a muck that just happened to later coincide with the actual storyline. :D
Leah unlogged
# Leah unlogged 2013-05-04 21:26
Hi sweetondean, there was once an old episode of Twilight Zone or was it The Outer Limits, not sure, but it was about a writer who was a god to his characters. He was a capricious god manipulating their lives at will from his typewriter. It was told from the characters POV.

Anyhow I love it when an episode throws me off or surprises me (in the good kind of way), as in the beginning scene or Cas having the tablet inside of him or Crowley having a turncoat angel on his side. I love it when it makes me think as in WTH is a demon cure and who will be the recipient. I love heartwrenching moments as in Sam's Galahad speech. Also heartwarming as in Dean's sweet and somewhat annoying (to Sam) helicopter mom moments, while trying to be strong for him at the same time. Dean is beside himself here.

The acting- Jared (in particular), Jensen, and Osric are killing it this episode!!

I also don't think Dean will try and stop it unless Sam's life is imminently in danger.

Really enjoyed the 107 research. You lost me at orange diameters, though :lol: . I get lost a great deal however. Nothing new there!!

Another great review Amy.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2013-05-04 23:29
Oh Sweetondean, you are a goddess of writing yourself! A most excellent summation of the episode.

the writing and acting in this were just so superb. It amazes me that both brothers have accomplished so much, done so many heroic things, and yet they only see their faults and shortcomings. It is heartbreaking that Sam has sensed the demon blood since he was a little, little boy. And yet its totally believable. There are people who sense, very early in life, that they are swimming against the current of society. (The transgendered people I’ve met often share that they when they were kids that they weren’t like other boys & girls their age, even if there was nothing outwardly apparent to indicate that.) And we know that Dean is absolutely hobbled by guilt. No matter what they do, neither feels like it makes up for their perceived shortcomings. So, so tragic.

It’s also so illuminating to get more insight into their childhoods. You can see the direct line from a young Dean using the airplane trick to get a little Sammy to eat, to the adult Dean manhandling his brother into a tub of ice water to bring down a dangerously high fever. And how many of us imagined Dean reading to Sam, and now its canon. It’s further proof of the intelligence of both brothers.

That was another thing I really appreciated about this episode was the smarts of both brothers – Sam knowing he’d seen the symbol before, Dean putting the pieces together at the gift store and then back at The Shining hotel he suddenly recognized the value of books as stories as offerings.

But I must say the episode did generate some musing points for me?

1. Was it a blocking & staging choice to have Metatron talk about choices to Dean only.. Or is it significant to the story? Is there a reason Sam wasn’t there to hear that information? I’m wondering if it ties to Cas having to keep the angel tablet away from you-meaning-Dea n, or you-meaning-the Winchesters.

2. For what it’s worth, I’m wondering too if it was a decoy angel tablet socked away in Cas’s gut. He was obviously distressed that Crowley found it, but not completely panicked. And I found it intriguing that the last we see of it, it’s sitting by itself, untouched on the mirage boat.

3. I’ve mentioned before that I think Crowley is more than a simple Crossroads Demon. I’m wondering what Naomi is. Although frustrated middle management is quite plausible. I’m still haunted by Crowley’s line about “I am forever”. Sure seems to suggest he goes back a very, very, very long way.

4. And with all this memory-wiping going on, I’m wondering if the brothers are having/ have had their memories wiped, or at least tampered with on several occasions. We got a hint of this with Cas giving Dean a different interpretation of their escape from Purgatory. This season we’ve seen the return of a handful or actors from previous seasons.. Ty Olsson as Eli the vampire coming back as Benny the vampire... Victor the pyschotic hunter was the pediatrician/sh ritga.. One of the alternative-Kev in prophets was the shopowner who sells the wreaths in AVSC.. and based on next week’s sneak peek, a key witness from a Season 1 episode comes back in a pivotal role... So what if Sam & Dean’s memories are a little bit like Swiss Cheese a la Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap? Maybe their perception of events this year is just a tad off, or skewed or being manipulated on purpose.. Hmmmm

5. As for Sacrifice, I think the sacrifice won’t be as straightforward or obvious as the giving up of a life.. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the giving up of a dream or a hope, or even a relationship.

So much angst ahead!

Pragmatic Dreamer
# Bunyip 2013-05-05 00:31
Great review as always, thankyou.

And don't forget that 107F equals 42C, and 42 is of course the answer to life, the universe and everything!
# sweetondean 2013-05-05 01:31
Dang! I meant to look up celcius too! That's totally awesome! Now if only there were mice :D
# eilf 2013-05-05 01:41
In slightly less awesome news Wikipedia says (and I swear I am not making this up) that 107 is a number which comes between 106 and 108.

The internet people ...

Your numerology examples are really interesting by the way ... I just couldn't resist that one :D
# sweetondean 2013-05-05 01:42
Hahaha!! Well, it's true if nothing else!
# KELLY 2013-05-05 11:47
eilf, I LOVE THAT! The internet people have a weird sort of brilliance. :D

Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.
# Anon 2013-05-05 02:00
Russ Hamilton has posted basically saying the Grand Canyon inconsistency was done on purpose. Interesting.
# E 2013-05-05 09:15
Hmmmm.... I wonder if it has something to do with Sam's new clarity and his memories? After I saw it and read some commentary about this being a slip of Edlund's I wondered if he did it on purpose because there' something more coming. Hopefully it will be made clear what this all means soon. :-) And hopefully it will provoke the boys to talk more! I feel like I learned more about Sam and how he ticks in that one scene where he revealed that he'd never felt clean even as a young child, then we've learned about him since like season 5!
# KELLY 2013-05-05 12:25
Anon, YAY! I knew I could count on Edlund. Seriously the man's my hero.

E, I wondered the same thing, but same thing but assumed that I was just wishful think again, like I've done all season and been wrong about. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE EDLUND. HUZZAH!

I felt the same way about that Sam scene too. To be fair, we've had moments. But they are usually about what he is going though in that specific time. IE He and Bobby talking about Hallucifer. (Edlund) Getting a look at Hallucifer (Edlund). Telling Cas he thinks was a goner(Edlund). Notice a trend. There were a few others. Him talking about he felt responsible for what Soulless Sam had done in Unforgiven. Or that he didn't feel guilty anymore in Defending Your Life which I might of given a lot of props to if it had been done better. (With that and dealing with Dean's guilt, that could have been one of the best episode ever instead it was a HUGE disappointment. ) Even tMWKTM, which I love, was more about him figuring what was going on and getting out to Dean. Although, it did have one of the best lines,"You know me. You know why. I'm not leaving my brother alone out there."

But this was specifically about him and the way he has felt over his entire life. It felt like real insight into Sam. Hallelujah!
# njspnfan 2013-05-05 13:06
Just a thought on that whole Grand Canyon memories thing. Before the start of S8, mention was made of this season being about perception. We already know that Sam and Dean have had their memories wiped/altered. Much has been made of the angels being programmed/havi ng their memories scraped/altered , and Crowley doing that to Kevin in this episode (though I thought only angels could do that, he probably did this with Ion's assistance?)

As part of these trials, what if Sam is seeing past these altered/wiped memories, "seeing thru the cracks" so to speak, and is starting to remember what really happened?
# KELLY 2013-05-05 13:20
Ooooo, another great idea, njspnfan. You're on a roll!
# E 2013-05-05 14:24
I agree, this is pretty awesome. The end of this season has been so fab and we've had so many new things happen and learned so much about both boys that I actually am beginning to hope that this whole trails arc isn't completely resolved by the end of this season. I'd love something dire to be held over to start off season 9 and the resolution to be resolved a few eps in.
# KELLY 2013-05-05 14:31
Yeah that'd be great if a lot of this was just a set up for next year.
Leah unlogged
# Leah unlogged 2013-05-05 15:34
njspnfan, E and Kelly, count me in on this one too! Like it. It is also something that could (not that I expect) have been used to explain some of early season weirdness. E, I really think there is going to be carryover direness to next season. Never fear, angst will be abundant I'm sure!! :D
# E 2013-05-05 16:41
Yippie! I loves me some angst.
# KELLY 2013-05-05 17:10
Leah, bring on the angst!
# sweetondean 2013-05-05 17:13
Mmmmmm angst....Winche stery angst....
# sweetondean 2013-05-05 16:46
Love this theory njspnfan!
# KELLY 2013-05-05 16:14
I couldn't find the thread where kaz and I were discussing this (pretty sure it was kaz) but what if Crowley not having Kevin doesn't matter because he DIED. They could pull a Buffy thing where even though he was brought back in activated the next in line. What do you think?
# Tiny 2013-05-05 22:28
Thanks Amy! I particular love your opening introduction. That's how I imagine Ben too when he wrote that! And he used the word 'tiny'. I giggle too!

This is one of those episodes we will be talking about and referring in the future. There are just so much info and call backs as well as opportunities for us to theorize what may happen in the future.

The Grand Canyon thing didn't bother me either. When I first heard it from Sam, I was like.. "huh". But the theory here about their memory being erased.. that's clever! It's Supernatural afterall. I can live with it.

A brilliant job well done from the writer to cast performance! Top notch indeed!

Kim A.
# Kim A. 2013-05-05 23:09
I loved your review.

I was thinking the same thing about Sam recalling memories that the angels have altered, thanks to the trials.
I was wondering what your thoughts were on the memory wiping done on Cas by Naomi. Ion said that Naomi has been using angels for longer than anyone knows. Just how long has she been controlling Cas?

Maybe some of the things that Cas did in the past were actually done under Naomi's orders. Things like leaving Sam's soul in the cage, making deals with Crowley, waging war in heaven, taking the souls/leviathan s from purgatory, etc. Maybe Naomi has been an enemy for longer than any of them realize. It's just an idea, and I'm probably wrong, but I bet Naomi has been messing with the Winchesters & Cas for longer than any of them know. Of course even if she hasn't she still needs to die.

As for Crowley knowing Naomi in Mesopotami - isn't he supposed to have lived during the 17th century in Scotland? So something doesn't add up there.
# Bamboo24 2013-05-05 23:49
Thanks for another spectacular review, sweetondean.

The 107 temperature raised my eyebrows as well - I have enough medical knowledge to know that someone would be either dead or quickly on their way there with a temp that high.

Interesting research on the numbers - those types of things always pique my interest!

When Sam said, “But we're heading somewhere. The end.” I felt like he wasn’t just talking the end of the life that they’ve been forced to live, or that light at the end of the tunnel he’s taking Dean to, or demons roaming the earth, I felt like he was talking about an end to his plight, an end to feeling like he does, an end to feeling like there’s evil living inside him, an end to the feeling of not being clean
I think you touched on something significant here. Sam's going through something incredibly profound. And the effects of the trials have him operating on instinct (he's resonating). And all that, I think, has given him a unique perspective, a wisdom. People who are dying often get this way, too, in their last days. Moments of great clarity, wisdom, and lucidity.

How terrifying for Dean it must be.

Jared delivered those lines better than I think he’s delivered any lines ever before. I felt those lines. Felt them. It was such an emotional and physical performance. It’s almost like in that moment Sam was totally redefined for me, or maybe defined. It’s like I got hit over a head with a hammer and there was Sam, telling me who he really is and how he really feels and it was unbelievably powerful and for me at least, felt long overdue.
I 100% agree. And I don't think either character has ever had more raw or honest dialogue.

I think he is so sick because his body is rebelling against itself, like antibodies (not literally) are attacking his blood from within and forcing a change. Like, say if you got the wrong blood transfusion, how ill you’d be because the antibodies in your natural blood would start to reject and attack the foreign blood. Actually you’d get a fever first, I looked it up.
I'm one who is not convinced that Sam is coughing up demon blood - definitely the surprised minority on this one - maybe even the only one! Is your theory that, as he coughs it up, it is being replaced by the production of normal human blood? The whole thing just seems biologically wacky, even going back to the initial scene where Baby Sammy ingested the demon blood. If you ingest blood you either throw it up or digest it and pee it out - it doesn't get into your actual bloodstream. Course when has this show been biologically accurate, especially considering the effects of the Supernatural? :) I could go with it if this turns out to be the case, no question. I'm just not mentally rolling with those specific speculations. Either way it plays out, I'm sure it'll be great.

I love that Dean is, at every turn popping out an arm or something for Sam, just in case he falls. It’s subtle, but it’s there, just a slight movement towards Sam when he stumbles. I love that he’s showing this support for his brother and that he’s staying so strong.
I caught that too! So subtly protective. Giving Sam space, yet looking out for him, making sure he doesn't fall. Beautiful.
# Thisoldbag 2013-05-06 12:20
Great write-up! I for one have thought (in my own mind canon) that maybe when Cas brought down the wall in S6 that he brought down all the walls. Sam now has multiple memories of life, hell, soullessness and he is still putting them together. I doubt this is where they are heading, but I find it interesting to ponder especially if the angels had to do any major manipulation to get the story where they needed it to be. Plus it really explains the desire of some of the angels to hide....I would think all the changing story lines would get confusing even for them. Hmmmm.
# Annaliese 2013-05-09 02:02
Wow. SweetOnDean. I don't even know how to describe just how alike we are in the way that we watch, feel and think about SPN. Being overseas with VERY limited internet connection I have been away from the fandom (and all that it entails) and only just watched this ep the morning 'Clip Show' was due to air. Doing so has allowed me the chance to get back to basics - how do 'I' feel about this, what do 'I' thinks about that, etc. I agree with basically everything you have written in this review. I feel like it was spot on. I just remember watching the ep and thinking 'Jared Padalecki you are making me cry'. An sincere thank you for your reviews. I look forward to them just as much as the episodes themselves.

A x