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Recently, a New York Times article discussed Supernatural's longevity. They cited everything from Sam's hair to Netflix and syndication deals to the loyalty of fans to the brothers themselves as the reasons for the show's long running success. All of these things are crucial for why the show has endured as long as it has, but another reason can be found in the stand alone episodes they put forth each season. These stand alones allow for new or casual viewers to jump in and have a completed story while adding in moments that touch on the overall season storyline for the loyal viewer. Some are simple stand alone monster hunts, others are metaphors for the over-arching season mythology, and some highlight guest stars. “Alex Annie Alexis Ann” does all of those things---spotlighting the lovable Jody Mills for one---and yet it does something else that elevates it as a standalone. It adds in a layer of potential foreshadowing for the brothers and for Dean's fate surrounding the Mark of Cain. It's this that makes this episode showcase why Supernatural has endured for so long---and will continue to do so.

First, let's examine the case itself.

We begin with a young woman, struggling against a cop as she's being hauled into a holding cell. She's fighting tooth and nail---enough to break free for a moment. We wonder what she did, who she is---or what she is. Is she a hunter caught trying to take out a monster? Is she a monster herself? She's left alone in the holding cell while the officer is called away on another crime. As we watch her in the cell, we can't help but notice that she's agitated. Instead of looking like a threat, this girl looks more and more like a frightened child---ripe for the plucking.

It doesn't help when another man arrives at the door, jangling the cell keys. The girl is trapped inside, and this man is clearly not nice as he taunts the girl ruthlessly. He tells her that “the others” will want her just as much as he does---and that there's no real place she can go to escape them or her fate. It isn't until he exposes his true identity that we know he's a vampire---and that she's a human girl. He flashes his fangs and moves towards the girl---only to stop short as his head is lopped off by Sheriff Mills herself.

It's here that the case becomes interesting. Having Jody Mills in the episode elevates this standalone by giving it depth and a familiar face we can see the story through. We know that she knows about the supernatural world after her tragic experiences---and yet we can also tell this latest invasion has shocked her on some level. Jody quickly calls in the experts, the Winchesters, certain that this is their territory, not hers. Quickly---and after fang checking the corpse---they confirm that it was indeed a vampire. Now they need answers about the other vampires that wanted this girl as much as he did. So, they go to question the girl---named Annie Jones. She won't answer to it, however, insisting that her name is Alex.

Annie---now Alex---has been missing for nearly eight years. It's apparent from the scars on her neck that she's been trapped in this vampire nest for a long time. Dean pegs her as their “blood slave.” When confronted with this aspect, she tells them, “I fed them, my choice.” And yet she ran from them for a reason. She claims it was time for her to move on, but it can't possible be that simple. They must figure out a way to help her and to destroy the nest. It's the only way that Alex will ever be safe---considering that these vampires will always know her scent.

But Alex won't give in that easily. She refuses to tell them the location of the nest, leaving the Winchesters to do some detective work. Sam and Dean figure out where Alex bussed from---Nebraska---and decide to canvas vampire prime places to locate the nest. Meanwhile, Jody will take Alex to her family cabin outside of town so that the vampires will have a harder time tracking the girl down. It seems like a simple and self explanatory hunt. They eliminate this nest, Alex will be able to go free as a human back into human society.

Jody certainly thinks it'll be that easy, telling them, “You guys are gonna get the jump on these vamps and be back here before they even realize their kin's missing, right?”

As the brothers work through the various nest sites, they come across one where a wood chipper is being used. As soon as Dean spots what's inside the wood chipper---a victim's hand---he knows they've found the vampire nest. Now they need answers about the others in it.

It's here that they'll learn more about Alex, too.

At the same time, we see Jody and Alex arrive at her cabin and start to settle in. Alex is a bit combative---as much as she was in that opener scene. She lips off to Jody about a cross being useless and then flippantly announces that she knows that Jody's family is dead after she looks at a picture of them. And yet, we can tell that Jody is patient with her reluctant charge---especially on account of Alex having been “raised by monsters.”

It isn't until the Winchesters call to warn her that the vampires have made their way to Sioux Falls that they can even try to tell Jody what they learned about Alex. She's not as innocent as she has presented herself to be. The vampire that they caught in the nest, cleaning up the latest victim, told them that she was the nest's lure.

Not only was she the lure, she enjoyed it. She had as much if not more blood lust in her than they did---taking it to a high level. Alex excelled at it. She managed to hook the undesirables of society easily into the trap---feeding fellow human beings to her vampiric family. We see this best in the flashback. Alex knew that she looked like an innocent little girl ripe for the picking---and so she played that up. She looks naïve and demure---and we see a man fall straight into her trap. He plays with her hair and she instantly decides to take him home. Her victim wonders if she knows what she's getting into. He asks, “Got any idea what I'm about to do to you?” She turns her back on him, and replies almost bored, “Nothing.” There's almost a pleasure as we watch her brother vampires attack, killing the man. She may have seemed like the runaway in need of sanctuary, but it's clear that she could be dangerous to Jody, too.

Before they can tell Jody that, though, the vampires are already upon them, storming the cabin to reclaim Alex. It doesn't mean Jody won't put up a fight. She pushes on the dresser blocking the door and runs after them in the middle of the night to try and save Alex. Instead, she ends up knocked out for the effort only to wake when the Winchesters come to tell her that they've gone.

From there, there's only one option: go to the nest and eliminate it---but will that mean Alex, too?

They arrive at the nest and search the house in silence, hoping to catch their quarry off kilter. Unfortunately, they know that they were coming, and so one by one they're each subdued. Dean has to toss his weapon away when they've put a shotgun between Sam's shoulders. He's knocked out for his compliance. Jody ends up tied up by their sire, facing the potential of being Alex's first meal as a newborn vampire.

As the vampires prepare to leave their nest behind, we see them taunt each victim. They bleed Sam for blood supply on the road. One tells Sam that they'll kill his brother for the brother the Winchesters killed. Mama, the vampire nest's sire, taunts Jody about not knowing what it means to be a mother. She sees through Jody's affection for Alex as misguided---to fill a hole. It isn't until Jody can turn the tables verbally and Dean does physically that we see things look up for the Winchesters.

Dean fakes still being knocked out only to turn the tables on their captors. He pushes Connor away and then turns, pinning him against the wall with a blade right at the vampire's neck. With pleasure, he has no problem slicing the vampire's head clean off, leaving a corpse behind. They have to rush downstairs to Jody, before she's killed.

Alex, newborn vampire that she is, turns against her sire. She sticks Mama with Dead Man's Blood, allowing for Jody to deliver the killing blow. It'll be the very thing to free Alex from the vampiric change taking place in her body. She's going to be cured and rescued from the nest she fled from in the beginning of the episode.

It's this that makes this standalone showcase Supernatural's ability to foreshadow the mythology beautifully. We've seen them do similar things with episodes such as “Heart,” or “Metamorphosis,” showing that Sam would succumb to the darkness of the demon blood for instance. “Mystery Spot,” foreshadowed Dean's death at the end of the season---that he would indeed be sent to Hell. “Alex Annie Alexis Ann” may have dealt with a young woman trying to escape her vampiric family---and may have featured Sheriff Mills---but what it did best was foreshadow so much of Sam and Dean's story for the remainder of the season. While it'll remain to be seen how accurate this foreshadow is, its potential is endless.

Let's look at how this episode does that.

There are two characters that allow us to see this foreshadowing: Alex and Jody.

On first glance, Alex seems to stand in as an avatar for Sam. She's running away from the nest. She's been complaining about the vampire killings and the way they're living. Alex has done everything to try and wheedle her way out of being their lure anymore. But dig deeper, and we discover that she's not mirroring Sam at all. She's Dean's avatar.

Start with her name. Her whole identity has been stolen from her. She went from being Annie Jones, a girl living with her grandmother to Alex, the lure for a vampire nest. Alex has had everything about her shaped by others and her true self expunged. In many ways, we're seeing Dean experience a similar fate with the Mark of Cain and the First Blade. His identity is under threat. Who he fundamentally is may forever be altered by it---as it was for Annie into Alex.

We're told that she experienced extreme blood lust. Alex enjoyed being the lure---she took pleasure in feeding humans to her vampire family. There was something in for her just as much as there was in it for her brothers. This may not seem directly related to Dean's current situation with the Mark of Cain at first, but as we watch the elder Winchester work the case we can clearly see that this is at play.

Alex reflects Dean in other ways, too. She's combative with everyone she meets---from Officer Frank to the Winchesters to Jody. We can tell that her callous nature isn't simply because she's uncouth. Rather, Alex is lipping off to everyone because it's the perfect defensive mechanism. The more prickly she can make herself, the more likely it is she'll manage to push everyone around her away. She's on the run from her vampire family so it would posit that she would want as few people around her as possible.

And yet, we also see what this defensiveness is really masking: that Alex is crying for help. She wants to push everyone's buttons so someone will notice the extreme pain she's feeling. It's clear that Alex is feeling guilty for what she's done all these years---that somewhere along the line she woke up to what was really going on. Despite what Dale says, this is not “just an act.” But Alex is powerless to stop what's happening. She's a human being in the nest---seen as a blood slave or as a lure only by her brothers.

We see through this act and realize that Alex is truly a lost little girl, that she's out of control, and that she's using her anger to lash out at everyone around her merely to protect herself at all costs. She's guilty over her blood lust---and the pleasure it's given her. She's grieving the loss of her human kin---her grandmother. Alex has never been able to handle any of these issues. She's been trapped far too long in the nest, doing what she's been told. It sounds familiar when we analyze her character. When we go this deep we can see how closely she resembles Dean. It's these aspects that will also show how she foreshadows his story arc with the Mark of Cain.

As they work the case, we see Dean become just as combative. It's seething beneath the surface at times---but it's there. Dean is clearly being changed by the Mark little by little. It comes out in key bursts throughout the episode. When they enter the nest for the first time and capture Dale, we see Dean become harsher than normal. He's angry that they've used Alex as a blood slave all these years---but it seems even more than that.

When Dale refuses to answer his questions directly, we see Dean grab the vampire's hair hard and yank. The action itself isn't that unusual. It's the gusto---the pleasure that he seems to take in doing so that makes us take notice. There's a fine edge to this interaction. It's capitalized on when we see Dean return to finish Dale off before they rush to Jody's aid. We see him enter and deliver a killing blow---even if it's cut off to blend into the next scene of Alex waking. Dean's action here is cold blooded. There's no question that Dale was going to die---after all he's a monster that was killing, and yet we can tell that this is more than a simple kill.

Dean again shows how much the Mark is starting to affect him when the Winchesters and Jody infiltrate the nest a second time---this time to clear it out and to save Alex. After he's knocked out by Connor, Dean lies in wait to make his move. As soon as they go to move him, he turns and jabs Dead Man's Blood into a vampire's chest. A tussle ensues, and we see Dean and Connor struggle with a blade between them.

Dean seems to be stronger than normal, pushing the vampire aside and then turning the tables by slicing Connor's head off. The action isn't what tips us off, however. It's the way he barks at Connor to look at him. He demands, “Look at me, bitch!” It's clear that he could have simply killed Connor by now---and yet he almost wants to savor it. Dean's overlording over his opponent to get as much pleasure as he can from the moment. It's a crucial moment for Dean in this episode, showing just how dark things have become and will be for the elder Winchester.

Meanwhile, we see Alex in the basement with Mama. It seems it may be too late for her---as she's been turned. Alex had blood lust as a human. We can only guess what type of blood lust she'll have as a vampire. It's important that we see her turned into a vampire here because it means she goes from being a human monster luring others into a trap for her vampire family to an actual supernatural monster. It's also where we see Alex stand in as foreshadow for Dean's storyline.

Once Jody arrives to help Alex only to discover the truth, Mama quickly overpowers the Sheriff in an effort to help Alex complete her transition. Jody will be her first “meal” as a full-fledged vampire. It'll be what will seal the deal and make her forever a creature of blood. Alex is shoved towards Jody---and for a moment we see her nearly succumb to the overwhelming need to bite. She can hear Jody's heartbeat calling to her. Yet, at the last moment we see her pull away and ask for Jody's release.

Alex has shown that she has enough power yet to not fall into the clutches of the vampire blood lust. She can't go through with it---Jody's done so much for her now in so little time. It's key that we see this moment---and what happens next. As Mama decides to end Jody's life herself instead, we see Alex mirror Dean's action upstairs. She stabs Mama with a syringe of Dead Man's Blood, allowing for Jody to deliver the killing blow.

Because Alex hadn't fed yet and because her sire now lay dead on the floor, she can be cured. This is the crux of the foreshadow for Dean's storyline. We're not certain that this will be what comes to pass for him and the Mark of Cain---but it certainly can give us hope. She's cured of her vampire nature as he may be cured or overcome the blood lust the Mark of Cain and First Blade have awoken in him. She is the avatar that we can look to when we look at the remainder of the season's story. Will Dean be able to stop short as Alex has? Will he be able to rid himself of the Mark once he's used the Blade on Abaddon? Or will a darker fate be in store for him?

But what about Sam? His avatar is none other than Jody Mills. We've seen these two characters build a beautiful connection over the past few seasons---especially highlighted in episodes such as “Time After Time After Time.” There's something that they intrinsically understand about one another. They recognize the gentleness and the grief the other shares. They seem to work on a similar wave length---and so it seems logical that she would be the perfect character to foreshadow Sam's story.

In the beginning, from the moment that Jody and Alex's eyes meet, we can tell that the Sheriff wants nothing more than to help this girl. She seems to build a rapport with her right away---despite all of Alex's combative mechanisms. Jody remains ever patient and steadfast beside her. She doesn't push too hard, she doesn't' demand anything, and she doesn't press for too much information. Instead, we see Jody allow Alex to slowly open up to her in time.

Jody is there to support Alex any way she can. She's there to pull a blanket over a sleeping Alex. She'll make sandwiches for her. She'll gently approach---even when it seems like she should snap and tell Alex off as seen in the moment that Alex declares Jody's family dead. And yet, she does none of these things. Instead, Jody knows that it's best to just be there. She knows that it's already hard enough for this girl---and no matter what she's done there's no room for judgment from Jody. She'll accept Alex as she is and help any way that she can.

It's evidenced most when we see them in the nest facing down Mama. She gives the girl a choice, calls Mama out for only wanting to change Alex when her humanity became “inconvenient,” and recognizing the hole that Alex is filling. Jody is able to put two and two together, realizing that “Alex” is a name for someone else that used to be in Mama's life. She realizes that Annie---now Alex---is helping delay the grief that Mama feels.

In the end, after Alex is cured, we see Jody join her, telling her gently that she'll be there for Alex however she needs. It's a touching moment expressing unconditional and patient love. These two may have only just met, but it's clear that a bond has already formed between the two already. Jody can recognize so much of herself in Alex---she too knows what it is like to have lost her whole family. She too knows what it is like to have the supernatural world ruin and change everything.

But how does this story foreshadow Sam's story?

Throughout season three, we watched Sam struggle to find ways to break Dean's deal. He wanted to do anything to stop it. He looked in books and he summoned crossroads demons. Sam looked high and low for anything that would work. In the end, we saw him succumb to his latent demon blood. He made a last ditch effort to tap into those powers in order to kill Lilith. It was too late, however. Everything failed and Dean was sent brutally to Hell in front of him. That single failure has haunted him ever since, building throughout each season to follow.

Here, we see Sam having a second chance. He's worried, he's scared, and he's just as clueless on how to stop what is happening to Dean---but it's possible that since Jody could save Alex that we'll see Sam manage to save Dean this time.

Look at Alex's identity crisis---and how this impacts Dean. For Sam, he's had his identity threatened at various intervals throughout the series. He was to be the leader of a demon army---forever changed by the demon blood fed to him as a baby. He was to be Lucifer's vessel. His soul was ripped from him. The Trials changed him from a man of hope to one of despair little by little---preparing him to accept his ultimate sacrifice. The latest threat---possession by Gadreel---robbed him of his own body and large chunks of time. If anyone can help Dean through this crisis of identity that the Mark and First Blade are creating, it will be Sam. He knows what it's like to have a supernatural force fundamentally threaten who he essentially is---and thus he'll know just how to help his brother fight back to the surface.

Much like Jody, we see Sam steadfast next to Dean in this episode. He's worried, yes, but he's patient, too. He doesn't push his brother, he doesn't question him---not until the very end. Instead, he watches, waits, and catalogs all the signs his brother is giving off. We see it in the expression on his face as Dean yanks brutally on Dale's hair or when he watches his brother kill Connor. It's possible that Sam is recognizing in his brother a similar feeling he once knew.

With the demon blood, Sam felt powerful. He craved more and used more. Sam understands how seductive this power can seem. He knows that having this special edge may give Dean something that he wouldn't otherwise---that instead of seeing it as a curse he may come to see it as a gift. Sam certainly did when he used the demon blood to kill Alastair or to finally kill Lilith. The power was alluring. Sam can tell that this Mark and the First Blade have done the same to his brother.

It's why we see him gently ask Dean about killing Connor. It's why we see him open with “Nice work back there. 'Look at me bitch'.” He doesn't want to put Dean on the defensive. He knows they're all already on edge as brothers---given Dean's curt accusation that Sam wouldn't have done the same for him. Of course, Dean being who he is automatically tries to push him away---and while their discussion is cut short by Jody's appearance---we can tell that Sam's not going to give up on his brother, either. He wants to break through and get Dean to understand that he's truly there with him.

We can tell that this role reversal has really put some things into perspective for the brothers---even if they've yet truly seen the fruits or realized it themselves. It may not fix everything between them, but it seems it may be a strong foundation---a good cornerstone for them to build upon. Sam is seeing his brother spin ever further out of control due to a supernatural force and Dean is reeling from harsh words spoken to him in Sam's stead---not unlike the voicemail once changed by Zachariah or how Lucifer taunted Sam about not belonging to his family. It'll help them in their purge and rebuilding of their brotherhood.

This is a crucial foreshadow for Sam and his involvement in the story. We're not certain if Sam will succeed this time where he failed last. We're not sure that he'll be able to pull Dean back from the brink---but we do know that his presence has to make a difference. Unlike Abel, Sam is alive. He can and will do something to try and stop his brother from crossing that line---the one the Mark and First Blade so clearly want Dean to cross.

Jody saved Alex. She cured her of being a vampire---but not because she killed Mama. She saved Alex because she gave Alex someone to trust and to believe in. She saved Alex because she wouldn't give up. Jody saved Alex because she cared enough. Time will only tell if Sam will be able to do the same for Dean---that he'll be able to help reverse what the Mark has done. But if Jody's story is to stand in as foreshadow, it means we will have hope!

Ashley Crow plays our mama monster of the week in Celia. At first blush, she seems the standard monster, introducing herself to their victim with panache. Crow makes her intimidating and sassy in that moment. It makes us intrigued to see just how bad Mama can be. Once we see her reunited with Alex, however, Crow gives Mama depth and richness. We can tell just in how she carries herself and how she speaks. Here, she's not taunting nor is she harsh. Instead, there's a sorrow around her. She's motherly as she asks why Alex ran. It's clear that she loves and cares for Alex. Crow gives Mama tenderness as she explains to Alex that she knows she should have turned her little girl a long time ago. We can tell that she's mourning Alex's innocence---and perhaps something more. Once Jody bursts into the basement to aid Alex, we see Crow snap back into the vicious and angry monster, attacking and overwhelming the intruder. We have sympathy for Mama----even if we do agree with Jody about how she treated Alex. After all, Alex's humanity is now not something to keep pure, it's seen as a liability. Mama shows her anger in violence, beating on Jody. Crow makes Mama frightening then and we can tell that she can be a ruthless vampire, too. Once Alex stabs her in the back with the Dead Man's Blood, Crow shows all of Mama's sense of betrayal beautifully in the shocked look and slow collapse. Mama may have only been in one episode, but Crow certainly made her a memorable one.

Katherine Ramdeen brought us the young Alex. In that first moment we see her struggling against Frank, we can tell that Alex is a fighter. We're not sure if she's a monster or not yet. Ramdeen gives the character great presence as she's left in the holding room, screaming to be let out. Her performance amps up, however, when we see her paired with Rhodes. In the moment she lays eyes on Jody Mills, we can tell that there's a connection. As we see her taken to Jody's cabin, we see Ramdeen add steel and bristle to Alex---all a defensive mechanism to keep the Sheriff at bay. The way she callously drops that Jody's family is dead is one key example of this. It's clear that she'd rather push away and deflect than tell the truth about herself. As we see the story about her role as a lure, we see Ramdeen put on a different performance. We can tell in the flashbacks that her innocent act isn't as innocent. She certainly knows what she's doing as she leads men on towards her brothers. As soon as she's maneuvered him where they need him to be, Ramdeen makes Alex disinterested and cold. It makes us nervous for Jody in the present, knowing that this girl has the capacity to do such things to victims she's selected for her family. As she's left with Jody to protect her, we see the Sheriff's gentle approach start to thaw out the wildness---especially when we see her finally fess up about what family member the nest killed. The hurried and soft way she says “My grandma” conveys everything we and Jody need to know. She clearly still feels the loss. As we see her captured and confronted with Mama, Ramdeen shows us that Alex's still very much a young woman. She's confused, conflicted, and afraid. Alex was certain that what she's done would end with her dead, so having Mama not only want to keep her around but turn her makes her lean briefly towards the nest she's known for almost a decade. As we watch her struggle in the transition, we see Ramdeen make us sympathize with her by how shaky and affected she is by the need to feed. And yet, as she's shoved at Jody, that bond they've been forming is strong enough to stay her. That doesn't mean, however, when she's managed to poison Mama that she's not shocked by her action. As she turns away from Jody killing Mama, we see the briefest of flinches. Mama may have been a monster, but she did love Alex on some level---and Alex loved Mama, too. In that final scene, we see Ramdeen strip away the mask Alex was wearing all along as she turns to Jody for guidance. She is devastated by her loss, and yet she can see such hope and promise in the bond she's forged with Jody. It's a brilliant scene executed with soft delivery. Now that she's with Jody, it's possible we'll see Ramdeen's Alex again.

Kim Rhodes returns for the second time this season as Sheriff Jody Mills. From her grand entrance beheading one of the vampires to the emotional final scene, Rhodes makes us connect with Jody brilliantly. She's a well rounded character full of tenacity and toughness---coupled with a genuine warmth. Rhodes has a down to earth presence on screen as the Sheriff navigates the latest supernatural situation to burst in on her jurisdiction. Her warm welcome for the Winchesters makes us smile---and as she works alongside them from a distance, we can tell that she's ready to listen to them---to a point. When she doesn't agree with their assessment on Alex, we see Rhodes give Jody steel. She has no qualms about standing between them and Alex if necessary. We see that strength of character again when she faces down Mama Celia. She may be tethered with her arms above her head, but Jody isn't panicking or overtly afraid. Instead, she's trying to stall Mama as long as possible---for Alex and to give the Winchesters time. It goes deeper than that, and we can see it in the facial expressions and vocal tones that Rhodes uses. We can see the recognition on her face as she realizes that Mama changed Annie's name to Alex in honor of a lost child. It's a heartbreaking moment, and as she softly exposes this truth we can see her compassion come forth for Mama Celia, even if she knows this vampire must die. But Rhodes has the best chemistry here with Ramdeen. It's there from the moment that their eyes meet. As they're thrown together by necessity, we see them dance carefully around one another. As Jody takes Alex to the cabin, we see the wound that's never healed ripped open as she has to admit that her family died “Horribly.” The way she says this single word conveys everything---and while we already know what happened, it's almost worse here just by that one word. Once Alex is turned, we see Jody bring all the attention to herself, protecting the young woman without having to explicitly say so. She drives that home, however, when she says, “Maybe not, but I know what it isn't, and it ain't about forcing her to be like you the second she becomes inconvenient.” The most powerful scene, though, is the one that Rhodes and Ramdeen share at the very end. It's just the two of them, sitting quietly while Alex tries to recover from her cure. It's an emotionally charged moment as we see Jody tell Alex that she'll be there no matter what in whatever way she needs---there's no judgment or conditions. Rhodes conveys beautifully that Jody's bonded with Alex, seeing something of herself in the girl. The conversation is simple yet elegant---and it leaves an emotional punch to finish the episode. Hopefully we'll see Jody Mills again---and perhaps she won't be alone.

Jensen Ackles plays a wound tight Dean Winchester in “Alex Annie Alexis Ann.” Even when the brothers are working the case, we can tell that there's something brewing under the surface. Dean's more curt at various points with everyone. Ackles makes him seem a bit more withdrawn as they question Alex or search the nest. Despite the tensions between the brothers---due to the Gadreel situation and the emerging power of the Mrk of Cain---we see Ackles and Padalecki connect on so many levels. Sam and Dean seem to move as one in the nest as they infiltrate it both times. We see it in great gestures and simple movements as they clear the area. It isn't until we see the brothers start to search that nest---and capture Dale for a question and answer session---that we see the trouble seething under the surface. Ackles seems to let it burst forth as Dean roughly yanks on Dale's hair or barks insults and questions. On the surface, this isn't that different from Dean's normal approaches, but through Ackles we can tell that the elder Winchester is about to burst at the seams. He's angrier, a bit harsher, and at times a lot darker than he's been. We see this evidenced most when he finally gets the jump on Connor, faking to be unconscious. As they tussle, we see Dean turn the tables with almost super strength and with sheer force slice the vampire's head clean off. Ackles makes Dean intense here. He's much more frightening at this moment than the vampires. When everything is over, we see Dean remain combative with Sam---as if to deflect any discussion rather than to express his hurt about Gadreel's speech in “Meta Fiction.” Ackles shows us that Dean has one foot in wanting to deal with this alone and the other in crying for help, and he conveys this best in that final conversation the Winchesters have outside of Jody's cabin. There, he throws out a defensive quip about wearing a hair shirt---while we can almost tell by his stance that he's grateful he didn't succumb totally to what's happening to him. Dean's always shown his fear in anger and wisecracks---but Ackles makes them here all the more poignant and noticeable. As the season marches ever towards the finale, it'll only get darker before it gets brighter for Dean---that's for certain.

Jared Padalecki gives us a concerned Sam. We see it in how they assist Jody on the case, trying to gently suss out why the Sheriff is so invested in this girl. Padalecki gives Sam warmth in this first scenes as he tells Jody what she'll need to know about the vampires coming her way. Padalecki and Rhodes have had great chemistry in other episodes in the last couple seasons---and that continues beautifully here. When it comes to Dean, we've seen the younger Winchester's worry levels increase over these past few weeks, but here we see it start to come to a head. Padalecki doesn't even have to show it to us in words as much as he does in body language and in facial expression. For each time we see Dean go a little closer to that edge, we see Padalecki show Sam's worry in a look. We see it after Dean yanks roughly on Dale's hair---Sam's expression conveys everything we need to know. He's scared that his brother's succumbing to that dark anger inside---that the Mark of Cain is demanding more from his brother all the time. We see it again as he's forced to watch Dean kill Connor---and how overwhelming the anger in Dean is becoming in that very moment. Sam may be a bit under duress due to being bled, but Padalecki shows us that he's in-tune with his brother's emotions, watching carefully everything his brother says and does with worry. The last conversation they share at the cabin gives voice to all of Sam's worries---and while Dean pushes him away, we can tell that Sam's not going to give up that easily just by the determined expression Padalecki wears. Hopefully, soon, we'll see Sam make that breakthrough.

Best Lines of the Week:

Alex: If you two are FBI, then I'm Taylor Swift.

Sam: Yeah, that's a vamp all right.

Dean: I don't know Sammy, looks like Jody might not need our help anymore.
Sam: Ah, they grow up so fast.

Dean: Don't they?

Jody: Frank's still in the dark about what hit him last night, and the guy still has nightmares about the barn episode of Walking Dead.

Next week Sam and Dean head to Chicago---and we're introduced to Bloodlines.


# Lilah_Kane 2014-04-28 10:51
Nicely written Far Away Eyes.

I was actually waiting on your take to the episode, because a lot of people saw A4 as Sam's comparison on this episode and I was slightly surprised the view turning fully that it was Dean. I liked a lot to see it "from both sides". Sometimes it feels like the mytharc of this season could have been more anvil delivered just with the boys but I have actually liked that the story has been brought up by the quest star episodes also.

I mean, of course I would like the boys to talk. They should be thrown totally to a locked bunker that they would be forced to talk it out, but that would last only one episode and we wouldn't get episodes like A4. (Gosh, I hate the name. xD) You were actually the first that I saw mentioned about Dean faking to be unconscious what I thought too. So, I actually made a happy dance that someone thought about the same.

Oh and the draining of blood... It is not good to have fear of blood because that made me react of course differently to the faking. "My brother is drained off blood and I'll just rest here until I make my move." Dean has nerves of steel or something else but yeah. Blood and me don't mix... But it was cool still. I have like how both the actors give so much even without words how they feel. With their expression and such and that has really come to pass more on this season.

Even though I fear the last three episodes after the spinoff I can't wait to see them. And the spinoff seems good too so it might surprise me.

- Lilah
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-28 17:13
Thanks for the comment.

The more I thought about the story, it just seemed to fit. Alex and Dean seemed to be more in line with one another and Jody and Sam were more alike this episode. It went from there. I've always enjoyed that about stand alone episodes in this show. They serve a great purpose that way, giving the story a deeper meaning for us more loyal and regular viewers.

I think the boys need to talk, too, and I am hopeful that we'll eventually see them have to deal with it head on---perhaps in the last remaining episodes after the spin off or a cliffie to cross into the next season. I think it's the natural progression we'll see.

I wasn't too bothered by Dean's "lie there and wait" approach simply because I think he knew if he moved too soon they may just kill Sam outright or him or both. I thought he showed how smart a hunter he is, even if it came with that scary edge with the Mark. The vampires KNEW who they were and therefore should have known better if you ask me.

I'm curious about the spinoff. I look forward to seeing what they do with it in this next episode. I think it has promise.

Thanks again!
# Sylvie 2014-04-28 15:55
Thanks for the great overview. I really liked this episode, it was such a great MOTW. I love me some vampires! Add Jodi Mills to the mix and you take a great episode much higher. I really, really love the rapport she has with the brothers. And the way she acted with Alex was sheer perfection. She was a mother and she's been in the hunter world for long enough to know how to act. Just the way she told Alex to look away just before she executed Mama vamp was touching. I hope that Alex sticks around with Jodi in the Supernatural verse. It would be a great phone conversation with Sam asking her how Alex is doing.

You give me hope about Alex mirroring Dean in this scenario. If she could be saved, then Dean can also. Sam can see what's slowly happening to his brother, and he is clearly very worried, and so he should be. It's giving me goosebumps just thinking about how this whole MoC thing will end. I think it will be the cliffhanger.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-28 17:17
Thanks for the comment.

I think you're right about Jody and Alex. I'd love to see them mention her again or ask about her. I'm not sure that they will, but the potential for her to come up or appear again is there. I think it adds something to the show. Jody needed this in her life and I think so did Alex.

After I did my first rewatch, it just seemed a natural comparison for me. Alex seemed to be very much like Dean while Sam and Jody's chemistry translated well to showcase they were mirroring one another. I think you may be right, however. We may very well see the MoC storyline end in a big cliffhanger that has us all biting our nails all summer long.

Thanks again.
# SueB 2014-04-28 17:39
Excellent review. I love your take on the parallels.

I'm so key'd up for the finale. I'm very afraid for Dean.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-28 17:40
Thanks for the comment.

After seeing this episode, I'm afraid for Dean, too! I have hope, but boy, I think it's gonna get far worse before we see it get better.

Thanks again.
# DLoMinion 2014-04-28 17:44
I'm a silent reader of this site reviews, and I wait every week impatiently for yours especially, Far Away Eyes. After watching this episode, I felt so frustrated, because at this point of the season, I wanted more informations about what's coming next for our boys. With Jody Mills in the center, I hoped for something new to catch on, until we could go back to the mytharc, and I felt I didn't have what I was expecting. I usually try to analyze every episode, every part of the subtext, it's part of the fun for me and SPN usually gives me plenty to analyze. This week though, I missed it. It doesn't change the fact that I love this season, but because of this frustration, I didn't appreciate as much the story as I thought I would. Story that was interesting, by the way. So I wanted to thank you for this eloquent and full of hope review ! Great read ! I wish I could've seen it myself haha, that surely would've made the experience better, the first time. But at least now, I can see it clearly. Anyway, I'm gonna stop there, as my english is a bit asleep tonight (plus it's not my native language, so I hope it's still understantable) . Once again, thank you for your reviews, this one especially ! :)
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-28 18:01
Thanks for the comment.

I'm glad I could help you enjoy this episode a bit more. I know a lot of this week was hidden or told in metaphor---and yes, I can see at this stage of the season that being somewhat frustrating. I've always appreciated Supernatural's ability, though, to put in this layer into an episode like this. It makes it a complete story for me, and I'm glad I could help you see it better that way.

I'm glad you look forward to my reviews! It's been a lot of fun writing these this season. There's been so much to discuss and analyze. I think that's one thing I really love about Season 9 so much. I like all the layers they've added from Gadreel/Garden of Eden to Cain and the First Blade. There's been so much to think about!

I hope you'll continue to read and to comment!

Thanks again.
# suebsg9 2014-04-29 08:39
We are certainly seeing the hell side and the purgatory side of Dean coming to the fore front thanks to the mark. Its two sides he never got to deal with when he got out of hell he had to deal with angels and demon blood so what he did in hell got put down and then purgatory I think he never got to get a handle on but the mark is certainly hitting on those two sides of him and its pretty cool to see you only hear what he did in hell or bits of what he did to stay alive in purgatory. I will always think that Crowley sent Dean and Cas there for a reason. But the review was very good I always like reading peoples points of view on this and it will be intresting to see who is saving who at the end of the season. Will Sam save Dean that will be nice to see and be intrested to see how the brothers work out their problems.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-29 17:34
Thanks for the comment.

I think that this storyline is totally tapping into the potential for Dean and what he's been through. In many ways, we've seen Dean shove things aside for the next crisis---and I'd argue that both brothers have had to do that at various intervals---but this crisis seems to be dealing with some of these issues head on. We are, indeed, seeing Dean's Hell and Purgatory experiences influencing who and what he is becoming with the Mark. I do think that it'll be a wild ride to see just how far he'll go into either of these sides, but I think it's giving us great story.

Thanks again.
# Puck 2014-04-29 17:17
Nicely written Far Away Eyes, as always. You drew out the parallels well, and I think it's the tipping point going into the season finale (except maybe minus tonight with 'Bloodlines'). I like where you're headed with this--and I think it supports what we discussed last week on your review of "Metafiction." Bonus: the parallel was much more subtle than the return of The Ghostfacers, but then again Jody has always been subtle and our "experts" decidedly not. :)
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-29 17:38
Thanks for the comment.

I'm glad you liked my parallels. I agree, Jody's always been a far more serious and down to earth character than our Ghostfacers. I like both for who and what they are, but Jody's always been a real and well rounded character where Ed and Harry are more parody. I have to agree, though, that this episode sets up the remainder of the season---minus "Bloodlines," of course. It may not seem like it is on the surface, but I do see that it sets up so much potential. Will we see that play out that way? That remains to be seen. I sure hope so!

Thanks again!