Much like Sharp Teeth this episode was by and large stand alone, a pretty good one if you ask you me, but with a much deeper undertone and some not-so-subtle swipes at the note we left on last week. Also like 9x12, this had a brotherly heart-to-heart at the end but instead of simply leaving on a melancholy sad-but-functional place; this week had more that rip-your-heart-out-and-stomp-it-to-pulp finality about it. And with that said, let’s talk about the veritable hour of smiles and love that was [not] The Purge.
As I said, I quite enjoyed this episode overall. Yes, it was another independent storyline and yes, I’m anxious to return to the Mark of Cain and all surrounding plot points but a breather is good too. Particularly one where we can address the brothers’ relationship in an environment separate from the end-of-world atmosphere it’s usually being discussed in. This episode opens with two things immediately clear: Dean is not dealing well with this new co-workers but not brothers’ arrangement (did anyone expect he would?) and Sam is aware of Dean but not apologetic for what he said – he meant it, which he reaffirms solidly later on. For now it’s business as usual which means a case and lots of opportunity for continued lack of synchronicity between Sam and Dean to rear its head and some unsubtle tweaks at Sam’s push that they be business partners only and his decision to be “honest.”
Fat Suckers and Family Members
The case this week was fun for all sorts of reasons. First, we had some great accents. Then we had Dean with donut powder on his face. And of course, who can forget about Sam the Yoga Instructor? Yum. I so enjoy the episodes where the monster doesn’t turn out to be the bad guy exactly as you think – and in this case it was a little bit of sibling trouble. Gee, who could possibly relate to that at all? Sam? Dean? So our Peruvian Fat Sucker actually became a kind of avatar for the Winchesters in a way, here.
On one hand, we have the older sibling who tried to control the younger and push them into a certain lifestyle. And she did it thinking, truly, it was in the best interests of the entire family. Yes there were some selfish motivations behind her choices but they weren’t entirely self-serving. On the other side, a brother who so resented being forced down a path that buck against the system resulted in deep bloodshed and devastation for all involved, not to mention the casualties. Is it a rough, harsh and sharp-edged comparative to the Winchester family? Absolutely. But the comparison stands none the less.
Let me also say, before staunch defenders of either brother finish gathering weapons, I don’t mean the analysis to throw mud on either of the boys. The point is merely both siblings have made moves recently they felt necessary and made by attempting to control every aspect of the narrative without input from other key players, and said moves have resulted more in heartache than anything else at this juncture. Much like Maritza’s moves in an attempt to better her family and show her brother a new way of life ended with everyone she loved dead and her life in tatters. The point is – Sam and Dean work best in unison rather than out of sync.
Okay, deep breath everyone because we’re about to wade into a deep pool of hurt and emotion. This conversation between Sam and Dean at the end, well frankly I don’t know where to begin so let’s discuss the mechanics first. The acting and writing were beautiful. My heart hurt watching this whole exchange. Truly phenomenal.
Now, as to the meaty points. Dean argues that he understands why Sam is upset, but he has to defend what he’s done because his choices saved Sam’s life and he’d do it again. Sam’s point is that he did it because a) Sam is his brother and b) because Dean can’t be alone. Sam was ready to die, but Dean wasn’t ready to let him. Now, this argument could be made anytime a soul is sold. It could have been made about the situation in Faith. John did this for Dean’s life, in fact. It’s a Winchester cycle – albeit without the 100% absolute firm knowledge the person is “ready to go” as it were. Nevertheless, I appreciate what Sam’s point is about that. However, telling Dean he was sacrificial until it came to himself, well, that was a hard blow, there Sammy. One I’m not on board with – but I’ll argue about that somewhere else.
The hardest sting – truly – was when he told Dean he would do the same thing. Really? Sam is so firm, so resolute in this that I can’t help wondering how this will be tested. Surely this will be tested somehow – because he can say that now, as he feels after what has happened, but if the situations were truly reversed I don’t believe him. For Dean, the look on his face, it must equate to being told he isn’t loved as much. (No, I’m not saying this is what Sam said – just speculate based on the expression and what we know about Dean’s character). Sam means everything – family means everything. It is the entirety of Dean and at the desperate moments, like Sam’s life on the line, that can wholly overpower all reason. So maybe he doesn’t make good decisions in the moment, but that doesn’t mean they’re made. It means it’s a desperate moment choice, made by an overwhelmed, over-exhausted person driven by love. That should count a bit, eh Sam? Just saying you’re not brothers, doesn’t make that’s not a factor in those moments anymore. Wait and see.
These boys, what to do with them. Dean’s emotional threads must be to the very last fibers – assuming any remain at all. I can’t help but think that the less he feels he has to lose, the more reckless he will be and the sooner Sammy will have to test that “won’t pull my brother back from the brink” theory. Ahh, irony. You are a fickle mistress who loves to toy with the Winchesters.