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Is it “Just My Imagination” or does season 11 just keep delivering great episodes? (Sorry. Couldn’t resist that one.)

This seemingly silly episode about children’s imaginary friends was an emotional treasure. Can you imagine how the concept of Zanna sounded when it was first pitched in the writers’ room? “I have an idea for an episode where Sam and Dean hunt something that is stalking and killing a man/unicorn hybrid at a tea party, a mermaid in a back yard pool, and cuddly, chubby best friends, one of which plays a mean air guitar?” Yet it worked brilliantly. Outstanding character acting by Nate Torrence made Sully into the most trusted, sweetest, wisest friend anyone could ever ask for.  Jared’s vulnerable portrayal of the battle scarred hero who needs reassurance before facing an unthinkable horror from his past pulled the audience even deeper into the enormity of Sam’s fear, and ultimate courage.

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Jensen’s hilarious reactions to Dean’s incredulous skepticism grounded the whole scenario in just enough reality to make it believable. Everyone’s acting was superb, and an episode about children and zaniness and sincerity was fated as an absolutely perfect match for Richard Speight Jr’s directorial debut. It all started with the dialog, though. Great work by Jenny Klein. The innocence of the Zanna allowed poignantly powerful messages to be delivered with subtlety. Every week the "Threads" series focuses on key words within the story to discover characters’ intentions and plots’ secrets, so it is a thrill to examine the beauty of the dialog that filled “Just My Imagination”.  

Traumatized Children and Their Families

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Yet again, the 'monster' in "Just My Imagination" was a young girl bent on revenge for the harm done to her by her family. Lizzie, Sydney and now Reese all rehearsed the 'settling an old score' drama for Amara/Darkness. A central theme of several season 11 episodes has been the trauma experienced by children because of bad family situations. Rather than physical abuse, this week’s children suffered emotional abandonment from alcoholic mothers, best friends, or dispassionate or obsessed fathers. Sam summoned an imaginary friend to fill the void of being largely ignored or left alone by his father. Reese also resorted to solving her childhood trauma herself. When the real world couldn’t accept or help Reese cope with a tragedy cause by the supernatural world, she became obsessed with understanding what had happened to her. As with John, Reese’s glimpse at the supernatural ended in the death of a beloved family member.  It isn’t a surprise then that her story echoed John Winchester’s story of obsession, pain, rage and revenge:

Reese: I always wondered if Sully was real, so I got obsessed with folklore. I studied abroad in Romania, and then I found out he's a Zanna.
Sam: Zanna are good.
Reese: That's what the witch tried to tell me, too.
Sam: The witch?
Reese: She sold me a spell so that I'd be able to see these freaks. She gave me this [knife], too.
Finally, I can save other kids from these monsters.
As with John, Reese became a self-taught hunter, devoting her entire life to tracking down and killing what hurt her. There was one significant difference, though: her “monster” didn’t deserve to die:

Sully: I panicked when Audrey died, and I left you to deal with the pain.
Reese: So maybe I'll take something you love, Sully -- a real person….I'm still mad. I can't stop it. I'm just still so mad!
Several notable themes in this dialog:

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·         Witchcraft - Who was the witch in Romania? Was it possibly Rowena? Even if not, it’s significant that the witch, or maybe witches in general, understand folklore. This particular one defended Zanna, so she sounds good and fair. She also had a spell that made the invisible visible, and a knife, which is now in the hands of the Winchesters, that can kill supernatural creatures. Sounds like witches may be powerful allies against the elusive Darkness.

·         Good – Sam reintroduced the good versus evil theme that dominated season 10’s finale. Dean reinforced this distinction when he tried to get Reese to understand that Sully was not a “bad” monster.

·         Freaks – I’m beginning to key in on this word. It was used a lot in “Thin Lizzie” and possibly “Plush” as well. Why are the stories making a point of ridiculing unusual people or habits?

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·         Unintentional Harm – Sully had a good heart and was doing his best to help the innocent, but weakened by his own pain (over Sam’s rejection and Sully’s perceived failure), he made a mistake that led to an unforeseen tragedy. When Reese confronted (both figuratively and literally) this “demon” who ruined her life, she found and gave forgiveness.

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In “Plush”, Chester’s death was also unintentional, which led to dire consequences for his assailants and his sister.  This week, Audrey (a name that is strikingly similar to Amara) was killed accidentally leading to years of unintended pain for her sister.  Are we being told that some horrible misfortune happened between God and his sister which led to unintended pain for Amara? How will this play out for the ages-old obsession the Darkness has developed for He who injured her? Will she also forgive the one she has hated for so long?

Visions/The Cage

Can you imagine… being raised in the hunting life?

Can you imagine…having visions of needing to go back to the site of a hundred years of torture?

Can you imagine…your brother believing God is telling him the answer lies with Lucifer?

“Just my Imagination” was about all of the things Sam has imagined in his life, and all of the things he’s allowed himself to think.

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Sully to Sam: Ever think of …running away, from here, from all of this, the hunting life?  Ever think…that maybe you wanna go to school? Make some friends? Sam, I want you to listen to me. You can be whatever you want to be. You’re not Dean, you’re not your Dad. You’re Sam, and Sam is so awesome.

Sam: Can you imagine? Running away? My dad would kill me.

Sully: It’s your choice. It’s your life. I mean, it’s all up to you.
We all imagine our lives will turn out a certain way. Sam imagined a lot of things, and he even pursued and realized some of his dreams. He did run away (for a few days to Flagstaff). He did go to college (until Jessica was killed). He got a best friend (Sully, for a short time). Circumstances often dictate our lives more than our dreams do, though. Sam was trained to not run away from danger, an ingrained response that is surely affecting his consideration of going back to Hell, just as it did when he turned his back on other choices and joined the hunt for the very first time:

Young Sam: My dad just called. He changed his mind. He wants me to come with him. Finally! He thinks I'm ready. I have to catch the next bus to Milwaukee.
Sully: Are you sure this is what you want?
Young Sam: I’m a Winchester. I hunt monsters. Why would I want anything else?
Sully: Well, I-I'm not sure it's you…Listen, buddy, I'm just afraid you're going down a path you might be better off not going down.
Young Sam: Yeah, but I'm not afraid.
Sully: I know you're not. You're one of the bravest kids I know. It's just... This whole hunting thing, you know, it's not the only way. There are so many other ways. And you can find one, Sam. You can leave right now.
Young Sam: I don't want another way. I wanna be with my dad and -- and Dean.

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Sully’s prophetic caution applies to both young and present day Sam. Everyone is afraid of Sam going down the path that he is imagining is being laid out for him in his visions. Sully told Sam that it’s not the only way, that there are always alternatives. Dean repeated almost those exact words to his brother at the end of the episode:

Sam: Dean, we need to seriously discuss me going to the cage.
Dean: Okay. Not happening. Good talk.
Sam, even if these visions are real –
Sam: yeah. It's Lucifer? And me? In the cage? I know. But this -- this lump in my throat... It's not an excuse, not anymore.
Dean: We'll find another way. Okay? There's always another way.
Sam: Okay. Then tell me. What is the other way?

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As a child he wanted to hunt like his dad and his brother because they were his heroes and it was the only life he knew. Is he now being pulled down the wrong path because of a misguided sense that’s it’s his only option and it’s the right and brave thing to do?  Is he so determined to not let the “lump in his throat be an excuse any more” that he is catching the next bus to Hell because someone (we don’t yet know who) called him and told him it was his destiny? The parallel would seem to indicate that, but just because it’s dangerous and reckless doesn’t mean it’s wrong:

Sully: When you went off to hunt, I considered that one of my biggest failures. It just seemed so clear to me that you wanted something else. But...I was wrong. And it all worked out, didn't it?
Sam: I don't know about that.
Sully: Come on. You're a hero. Sam, you saved the world. I keep track of my kids. And you did really good, Sam.

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Sam desperately needed this reassurance but he isn’t a kid anymore and he now understands the horror of what awaits him.  Once again feeling the unconditional acceptance, support and secrecy of his “best” friend, Sam allowed himself to open up about his failures and fears:

Sam: Well...Not all good. There was some bad. ..And some really bad. Sully... I screwed up. I let something out into the world that was...
Sully: You mean the Darkness? That's what the others are calling it. I've just heard rumors.
Sam: Well, I'm gonna fix it. I am. Dean and I, we're -- we're -- we're gonna fix it. It's just... I think God wants to help us fix it. But... I don't think I can do what he's asking.  
Sully: How bad is it?
Sam: There's this cage in Hell, and it's where they keep Lucifer. And I've been in it, and it's... And I think God wants me to go back.
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Ever think…it’s all up to you?

Ever think…that God would ask something of you that you don’t think you’re capable of doing?

When faced with something that might be worse than the apocalypse, Sam’s imagination now is filled with only horror… and fear.


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The intimacy of Sam and Sully’s conversation was gripping, and the depth of Sam’s fear was piercing. How many times are we so afraid of something that we don’t even say it to ourselves, let alone say it aloud to someone? Yet Sam had someone who he knew would always say the right thing and would always understand, so Sam was able to risk talking about the unimaginable.

Sully also confessed to making a grave mistake and being afraid:

Reese: He's the one who killed my sister.
Sully: It was an accident. Reese and her twin sister, they were my first kids after I thought I screwed things up with you.
Reese: So this is his fault?
Sully: No! No, Reese, I'm the one that bungled it. It was me. I should never have let her chase me into the street. We were just playing tag. I don't know why I didn't see the car coming. That's why I never went back in the field. That's why I never found another kid. I was too scared I'd hurt 'em.

In "Plush", the misguided sister said “Fear cripples you. Makes you do nothing, or worse. Makes you do something you regret.”  Sully’s fear crippled him. He stopped helping children, which was a terrible waste of his wonderful, nurturing gift.

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Sam is determined not to let fear cripple him into inaction:

Sully: Ever think... About running away anymore?
Sam: I did. Um, I mean, I have. But not in a while. Not anymore.
Then Sam and Sully exchanged a look that said, ‘there’s your answer’. That was the moment that the hero in Sam decided what he had to do. The lump in Sam’s throat – fear – isn’t going to paralyze him anymore. He feels the right thing to do is to act on his vision, from God or whomever, and visit the cage for answers. Sam is going back to Hell.

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The concept of being a hero was brought up several times in “Just Your Imagination”. Sully was Sam’s hero:

Sam to Sully: You know, it's... pretty awesome, how you help everyone around you.
Sully: Doesn't always work out, but... I try.
Yet the guy who “helps everyone around him” made a huge mistake that cost a life. So both Sam and Sully, who both have hearts of gold and who have both been willing to sacrifice their lives to save someone, ‘screwed up’ and ‘bungled it’. They each had to confess their deepest fear, but then overcame it to be able to act again.

Sam: Sully... One thing I've learned -- heroes aren't perfect.
Sully: Mm. Sometimes, they're scared. But that just means the thing that they're facing, it's super important. And nobody else is gonna go for it because nobody else has got the balls.
That’s my favorite line of the episode. Some things are scary, but that’s just because they’re important.

I needed to hear that.
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Thanks Sully. You’re a pretty good imaginary friend.

Just Wondering…

Motel 1.18 Kingpin

Who else recognized the wallpaper in the flashback was from 1.18 “Something Wicked”? I tweeted Jerry Wanek about it. He confirmed it and asked if we found the one thing that was different. I answered him and am awaiting his reply (what do you think was different?). The continuity in this episode contributed to its believability. It was a marvelous surprise to have Dylan Everett reprise his role of Young Dean.

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Sam's broken arm because he thought he could fly, the references to going to school and running away - it was hard to do but the detail added to the overall quality and charm of the episode.

Dean: "A chick in a car? That’s terra firma. I’m home." – Great line!

I objected to the fat jokes in "Plush" so it’s only fair that I give credit to the casting department for using several actors who are heavier in weight than your standard perfect model body shapes we usually see on TV. Meems and Sully both had self-proclaimed “love handles”. I applaud being offered something other than diet obsessed actors and both were exceptional in their roles, so thank you for the diversity.

There were two or three things that I just can’t understand passed the editor’s desk:

·         I don’t understand this string of awkward jokes that don’t quite work! A manicorn? Yes, we have a funny name for it now but the joke died. There was also the 'take a family shower' bit. Would Dean really say something that dumb? Even Sully said "pull up".

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·         I was really bothered by a few details that were ignored. Matty is never going to be able to go back into her bedroom and the pool water is still bloody red. The boys needed to clean up both crime scenes. If we are going to buy into serious hunters seeing imaginary, cuddly friends, then ALL the rules of reality apply, like crimes scenes needing to be addressed so the children can sleep and swim ever, ever again!

If these small nit-picks would have been addressed, for me this episode would have been absolutely perfect. What did you think?

Jared's hair was particularly amazing in this episode. Were those new blond highlights?

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Who was the hero of the episode for you? What do you think all the talk of accidents and imperfect heroes meant? Is Sam being brave or has he been brainwashed to act?

Quotes courtesy of:
Screencaps courtesy of


# AlyCat22 2015-12-05 04:59
Uhm, correction if I may be so bold. Sam is catching the next TRAIN to Hell. There. Fixed it for you. ;)
# Jen 2015-12-05 07:24
Cheeky Alycat LOL choochooo
# YellowEyedSam 2015-12-05 08:28
Ooooh thats clever :D
# nightsky 2015-12-05 11:03
This is so embarrassing. :( I don't get it.
# njspnfan 2015-12-05 16:14
I think Alycat22 is referring to the train/train whistle that has played a role in a couple of recent episodes, usually in relation to discussions of the cage/visions of the cage.
# nightsky 2015-12-06 11:20
I'm going to listen more closely for that. I've heard it but it didn't register as a "thing". Interesting...
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 13:59
Yes! The train whistle has appeared (been heard) in at least three episodes that I know about... Baby - during the boys car convo, Plush while Donna and the boys were burning the bunny head, and this one towards the end of the epi. Was it in Thin Lizzie too? Maybe. In Baby the train whistle was barely heard and very distant. In Plush it was much more pronounced and in this episode not only was it very audible it was also accompanied by the sound of the train wheels clacking over the tracks as well.... a kind of metaphorical train that it getting closer and closer. It's fascinating and I am so glad that who ever noticed it first....(Jen, AlyCat?) said something about it. It's these little details that really create complexity in the episodes. Maybe it's a thread? I wonder if it will continue after Sam goes to the cage next week? I also wonder if Sam's visions will continue as well? I hope so, I hope that they just change focus.
# AlyCat22 2015-12-06 19:34
Yup. Sam's leaving. (Leaving) On that midnight train to Hel- uh, Georgia, uh, Hell... (Leaving on that midnight train. Whoo-hoo!) I'd rather live in his world, than live without him in mine...

I still haven't listened to the prior episodes except for Thin Lizzie and so far I haven't heard any whistles or train related sounds in that episode. So that's Baby, Plush, Our Little World and Just My Imagination. Still watching, will report back.

You know who I think should be the next MOW? The toxic chemicals/monst ers in the FDA anti smoking commercials! Those suckers are scary!!!
# LEAH 2015-12-06 20:07
No kidding! Those things are very disturbing. Good special effects and production quality in those anti-smoking spots.
# AlyCat22 2015-12-06 20:16
Update: No train whistle or anything train related in The Bad Seed either.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 20:41
Id be curious if the train is in Form and Void, the first episode that raised an issue of Sam's visions. Or maybe it's only to do with the cage specifically and only started after Sam saw the actual cage in his visions? Hmmmm.....
# AlyCat22 2015-12-06 22:04
I will watch. Right now. And advise.
# AlyCat22 2015-12-07 00:43
Nope. Nary a train whistle, sound or anything remotely to do with locomotives in Form and Void. Tho for one brief moment I thought I might have heard one sharp blast until I realized that was just my daughter hitting a sour note on her electric guitar. ;)
# BoGirle 2015-12-07 08:04
Hmmmm..... well that's interesting, we've only been hearing trains since Sam saw the cage then? When did you hear the train in Our Little World? Or did you?
# AlyCat22 2015-12-07 13:51
In the beginning the two girls are sitting around the railroad tracks talking. At the beginning you can hear a train whistle way in the distance then one louder and closer when they are at the point in their conversation discussing eating chips. Tracks=Trains, right. Nothing out of the ordinary. Right? Normally. But here's something interesting I noticed on this rewatch. In Thin Lizzie there were zero train sounds... in this episode (Our Little World) Sam and Dean are still hanging around Lizzie Bordenville trying to find Amara. Same town, different episode and now trains appear again. When I did my research I wondered why Show skipped? So it went Baby, then no train sounds in Thin Lizzie, then trains back again (along with Jerrys box car) in Our Little World (and remember D & S are still investigating in the same town as last episode), Plush, and then back with a flourish in Just My Imagination. So a skip, but not really. Sam's leaving. (Leaving) On that midnight train to He- uh, Georgia, uh, Hell... Loving these small touches!!!!
# nightsky 2015-12-07 10:28
Maybe it's a thread?
I'll start tracking it as one! Train = Cage.
# BoGirle 2015-12-07 10:36
Awesome! It could be a thread that plays itself out next week when Sam actually goes to the cage. I wonder....if it does play out, will it be replaced by something else for the second half? We haven't had tidbits like this to speculate about in AGES! It's so much fun!
# spnlit 2015-12-09 18:45
E, I think our train will play out in tonight's episode. I first noticed the train whistle in Baby during the boys conversation in the Impala after Sam had the vision of someone looking like young Dad. I mentioned it back in the Baby ep but was not sure if it meant anything. The train did feature in each of the episodes following Baby. Now it makes sense. The train was a "one way" ticket or "one track" (mind) ride to the cage. Going back to "Baby" the episode started with the voice over of Chuck talking about Baby, which of course is the start scene to Swan Song which was Sam's swan jump into the pit to the cage. Also at the start of Baby was the very loud train while Chuck was talking. The train connects "Swan Song" where Sam saved the world to, I think tonight's episode where Sam faces his fears and goes back to the cage. In My Imagination, we saw Young Sam making the decision to stay with family and hunt and he packed up those little green army guys who played a huge role in Swan Song. Sam hunting was always an intrinsic part of the story/ Winchester legacy. Now Sam is on that one way trip to the cage and we will find out whether the cage and Lucifer is the answer or the only way or are Sully and Dean right: Sully: "it's not the only way. There are so many other ways. And you can find one, Sam. You can leave right now. Dean : We'll find another way. Okay? There's always another way.
Sam: Okay. Then tell me. What is the other way?
# BoGirle 2015-12-09 19:27
Ohhh, nice connection between Swan Song and this episode, nice catch!! :p. I'd love to pick JC's brain about the trains. I wonder if the whole thing will get dropped after this episode or maybe replaced by something else. I really hope that Sam's visions aren't dropped after this either.... they are so interesting and I'd like them to continue. A part of me is dreading that the Supernatural bus will roll over Sam in this episode. The synopsis that says "devastating repercussions" or however it was worded, has me worried for Sam.
# spnlit 2015-12-09 19:50
I think the trains will be dropped because it arrived at its destination of the cage. I'm worried about Sam too. My fear is that I was wrong and the visions are not from God or his emissary and Sam is once again duped/ manipulated by the wrong entity. Let's have hope .... season is moving on brilliantly and the Js particularly Jared really liked 11.09 and 11.10 and where its going.
# Lilah_Kane 2015-12-07 02:44
(Train discussion) Don't know how big of spoiler this is so look away if you want!


People have been talking if the train means something and I found the tweet that I remembered about it.

Jerry Wanek @JerryWanek 10:41 AM - 11 Nov 2015 Yes we "built" a train for tonight's EP

People have been talking what does it mean and from this bts shot it seems to mean something. A game that I have played and have introduced "Silent Hill" had similar sound effect in it. It has Air Raid Siren that starts to play and the world in it literally turns to hell. That siren means death, very bad things and monsters. That makes me wonder what the train sound does mean. But I am wondering have they taken some ideas from the scariest game out there. In same game there was also cat in a locker scene like there was in yellow fever.

Disturbing images in the clips so be warned. It is fairly scary horror game/movie.

From the movie:




From the first game:


When I played the game a lot I actually started to hear that siren in school. Sound memory in ears. It didn't help that one of the more used horror places in the game was a school..........

- Lilah
# cheryl42 2015-12-07 03:36
Wasn't that the train in the scene between Cas and Metatron? I thought that was where Cas was standing when Metatron first saw him. I'll have to go back and look at that scene again.
# Lilah_Kane 2015-12-07 03:56
You might be right! So, it wouldn't be a spoiler if it was from "Our Little World" :)

- Lilah
# Jen 2015-12-07 05:16
Sorry I didn't hear a train. So far it appears to be in those 3 eps. only
Although what Lilah wrote about Silent Hill -- A game that I have played and have introduced "Silent Hill" had similar sound effect in it. It has Air Raid Siren that starts to play and the world in it literally turns to hell. That siren means death, very bad things and monsters.
Fits in perfectly with The Darkness (Amara), The Killing of Death, And Sam's return to the Cage === The train whistles could also mean nothing LOL
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-05 09:07
As usual I loved your threads Nightsky. I loved the parallel you drew between Sam and Sully who "both have hearts of gold." But one more parallel struck me, the one between Sully and Dean (hopefully!). Sully told young Sam that he was not meant to be a hunter, and he tried to get him to run away from that life because he felt that he knew what was best for Sam. But he admitted to adult Sam that he was wrong, that Sam had proven him wrong, and he proceeded to tell Sam that he has full faith in Sam's ability to do what needs to be done. Like Sully, Dean has been discounting what Sam has been saying about his visions and where they're leading him. So maybe, like Sully, Dean will come around to placing his full faith in Sam, and will fully support his decision regarding the cage. One more episode until we find out!
# sugarhi15 2015-12-05 19:20
I think I agree with this assessment. ;);)
# sugarhi15 2015-12-05 19:21
I think I agree with this assessment. ;);)
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 14:02
Yes, I agree. As soon as Sam said "sometimes heroes are afraid" I immediately thought of Dean because I think it's his fear that is holding him back at the moment, but that he will still figure out how to do the heroic thing. I agree too that Dean will have to "come around" eventually to help fight Amara but currently his fear is stopping him. First he needs to understand better what is going on between he and Amara which hopefully he'll have a better grasp of after this coming episode where it looks like she's up to something pretty big.
# LEAH 2015-12-06 14:43
That is exactly what I think too. Or hope.:)
# sugarhi15 2015-12-05 17:02
Great read nightsky....alw ays enjoy your take on things.

I really enjoyed the continuity angle of this entire episode and how it relates to the boys. Jenny must have watched every episode at least twice, because I have to say...."she gets it, she gets them". Sam having an imaginary friend makes perfect sense when you think about it. Sam is only 8 when he learns the truth about what their father does, how his mother died, and worst of all...monsters are real and Santa isn't. That's got to be a bit traumatic for someone in the third grade. I always understood Sam's fear and his desire for a more normal life. Then we have Sam at 9 alone in a cheesy motel. (sidenote: can I just add how awful that really is and that in the real world JW would've had his kids taken away from him. It's not like Sam was left in a nice, safe hotel with a pool, a gift shop, a gym and maybe a nice place to eat. He's a fourth grader left alone in some cheesy ass motel, mostly likely off some highway, where hookers and lowlifes spend the night). He didn't even have Dean with him. I think it's perfectly logical that Sam would have an imaginary friend to keep him company and help him to feel safe. Sully also offered Sam an ear, which I don't believe either John or Dean did. It also made perfect sense that Sam would want to run away. It ties very well into what we saw in DSOTM. One of Sam's most cherished memories was when he ran off to Flagstaff and got away from his Dad. His happy memory also included going to college and being safe and normal for the first time in his life. Yet when Dad called telling Sam to hop on a bus (and don't think that Dean didn't have everything to do with John changing his mind)...oh holy hell I know, very very bad parenting....Sa m was very excited and happy to be included. Now that may seem OOC but I don't think so. Sam is 9. He's never been on an actual hunt. He hasn't yet witnessed first hand what hunting entails, all Sam knows is that he gets to hang out with his Dad and his brother. He gets to be included, which is what he really wanted. Sam rejecting Sully at that moment, questioning why he needed him in the first had everything to do with his wish to be with his family. When Dean called Sam in, he believed he wouldn't be alone any more. I can only imagine as time went on, and Sam became disillusioned with hunting (as we saw in the girl next door), that somewhere deep inside he regretted ever saying goodbye to Sully.

Sully coming back to Sam's life is just another reminder that Sam being with Dean, doing what he's doing, even with all the bad that came along with it, was in fact the right thing for Sam. Sully even said it....Sam's a hero. Still, Sam holds onto that dream he had when he was with Sully...the dream to be normal. To this day, after all is said and done, Sam still has hope for both him and Dean that they will be able to see that dream come true...and that's a good dream to have.

I really like Sully and I think he's a very important part of who Sam is. I love that Sam had him to open up to about his visions and his fear of what it all means. Sully asked Sam a very important question...."Do you feel like running away?".....and Sam took a good look into himself and replied...."no" . I believe that Sully's faith in Sam has given him the extra ounce of courage he needs in order to face his biggest fear. Sam's not going to run away from his fear, he's going to run to it and face it down....he's going to do what is necessary to find out how to defeat the Darkness. He will be as Sully so eloquently pointed out....a hero.

Dean does make me laugh. When he comes out in his dead guy robe asking what Sam is doing...and when Sam tells him, and then Sully shows up...."I'm going to get my gun"....serious ly...he almost made me choke on my ice cream. On the surface Dean's hostility towards Sully brought on a couple of laughs but then again, it goes so much deeper than Dean being a grumpalump. After the laughing was done, I started to question Dean's hostility towards Sully and it really did make perfect sense to me. Dean noted that an imaginary friend was stupid then as it is now. I don't really think Dean, until this episode, had a true understanding of what the Zanna truly did for these children. I also think that there is a bit of guilt behind Dean's hostility as well as resentment towards Sully. Sam created Sully because he was lonely. Sam told Dean, he was a lonely kid and Dean said...."you had me". Of course Sam had Dean, but not all the time and not always when he needed him. I don't think Dean really understood, until now, how lonely it really was for Sam when Dean went off on hunts with John. I mean, at least when John went off on his own, they had each other, but when Dean went too.. Teen Dean learning about Sully and thinking it stupid, of course that's what he's going to say, after all Sam created someone to fill Dean's role. I can imagine that's like getting hit in the jewels....but I also think Dean felt guilty as well. Dean, forever the good soldier, always wanting to please his father, left his brother alone. I think that bothered Dean and judging from his reaction to Sully, I think it bothered Dean a lot. I believe he resents Sully for taking his place and I think he feels guilty that Sully exists because he wasn't there. Judging by the way Dean regards Sam, the lengths he goes to save him, and Dean's belief that hunting together is the only thing that keeps them together, that keeps them a family, I'm leaning towards thinking that Sully's existence had some part in influencing Dean's outlook. I think Dean's gradual acceptance of Sully is quite telling, in that Dean not only recognises Sully's value but also enables him to come to terms with his own guilt. Sully in turn lauds Dean, taking back what he said about Dean being an germ, and acknowledging that Sam was right to have rejected him....Sam didn't need Sully anymore, he had his big brother, who has, in fact, looked out for his brother and taken care of him. You add a Sammy smile to that, and I think we get a Dean with one less thing to feel guilty about.. and that's a good thing. As for Dean's reaction to Sam's vision and the possibility of going to the cage....I can't really blame Dean for the whole....HELL NO attitude. I can imagine what could be going through Dean's head....Sam spent a century being tortured in that cage. His head broke. He nearly died from his hallucinations. I can only imagine his fear regarding Sam's sanity if Sam came face to face with Luci again. So yes I get his fear....but.... .Sam is strong. Sam has faced and conquered insurmountable odds....Dean needs to trust in Sam, trust that he can handle whatever comes his way, and trust in himself to know that he'll be right by his brother's side to help if need be. Dean also needs to trust in his brother and tell him about the control the Darkness seems to have over him. Hopefully after the midseason finale....Dean will finally find that trust in Sam and himself to open up. We shall see.

This was a wonderful episode filled with sick twisted humour and emotional/touch ing scenes. This episode mixed the past with the present and brought new understanding and appreciation for both Sam and Dean. It was just the right amount of was grade A top notch writing, directing and acting.....and now I want to go and watch this episode again with an imaginary friend...

ps...ok so I watched again...sans my imaginary friend....and as I watched the episode again last night I had realized something. It hadn't occurred to me the first time, but as I watched the end scene.....I suddenly flashed back to the end of Brother's Keeper. As I watched Sully willing to die by a blade, to do what's best for Reese, I suddenly was reminded of Sam on his knees, ready to die by a blade as well, believing that was best for his brother. That got me thinking more about Sully.

Sully was created by Sam. I think that Sully is a combination of Sam and Dean....and together Sam had the perfect friend. Sully was similar to Dean, hell Sam created him because Dean wasn't there. Sully is funny and wanting to please Sam. It reminds me of Dean's sense of humor and how Dean, as in DSOTM, tried to make Sam happy. Sully looks out for Sam and is willing to do anything for him, not unlike what Dean does. But then Sully is also a part of who Sam is. Sam, as we know who did dream of running off, of doing something else. The Sam who was told he's not Dean or his father and that's a good thing because Sam is awesome. Sully helped Sam to become his own person, follow his own beliefs and stand his own ground. This already existed inside Sam. Sully is also a good listener who doesn't judge or shut down because he doesn't like what he's hearing...that too is a Sam trait. If Sully were dissected and examined to see what he was actually made of.....the ingredients would read.....half Sam Winchester, half Dean Winchester..... which ultimately resulted in the perfect person....imagi nary or not.

# Lilah_Kane 2015-12-06 06:11
Also, to support this idea a bit I found an image from twitter. Someone pointed out that Sully's hair is almost like Dean's. So, maybe Sam's imaginary friend is really him and Dean combined that he looks up to? :)

- Lilah
# nightsky 2015-12-06 11:18
If Sully were dissected and examined to see what he was actually made of.....the ingredients would read.....half Sam Winchester, half Dean Winchester.....which ultimately resulted in the perfect person....imaginary or not.
Wow. That's really good! You keep this up and I might have to put you on our writing staff!
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-05 18:28
but as I watched the end scene.....I suddenly flashed back to the end of Brother's Keeper. As I watched Sully willing to die by a blade, to do what's best for Reese, I suddenly was reminded of Sam on his knees, ready to die by a blade as well, believing that was best for his brother.
Sugarhi, I love this observation. And it makes a lot of sense that Sully, the perfect friend, would be a mix of Sam and Dean, having all of Dean's protective instincts and sense of fun, but like Sam in his sensitivity, compassion, and willingness to listen. Most importantly, like both brothers in his willingness to sacrifice his life for someone he cares about. I also agreed with pretty much everything else in your comment.:)
# sugarhi15 2015-12-05 19:19
:D Thanks Samanddean. I love how this show really makes you's such an intelligent, thought provoking program. Even the seemingly most inane eps are so much more and so well done and well written. 11 seasons in and the show is just as smart, witty and thought inducing as when it started. ;);

love it. so looking forward to next week.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-05 21:59
Nightsky, I just finished rewatching the ep (which I loved even more this time) and I had a few more thoughts about your review. I agree that the "family shower" joke was a bit much and not really funny, but once again the manicorn joke made me laugh out loud. I guess I'm pretty lowbrow in my sense of humor. I also noticed that the music played during one of the flashback scenes was the same music played in Swan Song when Chuck was doing his voiceover- at least I'm fairly sure it was. I assume that was intentional given that the next ep involves a visit to the cage. But hopefully it doesn't signify a similar outcome!

ETA: I actually think the music was playing in Swan Song during the first flashback, which then segued right to the talk between Sam and Dean in which Dean told Sam that he was on board with the plan for Sam to jump into the pit.
# Jen 2015-12-06 00:25
Don't forget Sam telling Sully he was a Hero to him -- I believe Sam said this to Dean in "Brothers Keeper"

Also Ladies this wonderful praise that you are giving me about writing such a wonderful episode. I Thank you very much LOL My nam is Jenny Klein Hahahaaaaaaa (close Kleinschmidt)
# nightsky 2015-12-06 11:07
Thank you for bringing up the music. The background music for Young Sam and Sully's talk was "Americana", one of my two top favorite "family themes" that played for Sam and Dean's best broments in S 1-5. When I was live tweeting, I tweeted "AMERICANA!!" when it played. Only the deepest fans who have had any idea what I was yelling about ;) Jay Gruska, one of the SPN composers that has done every show since forever, tweeted that they've been looking for a perfect spot to use that again. It reinforces the season's commitment to remind us of the early years and regain that "classic" touch. It also adds credibiltiy to the theory that Sully was a stand-in for Dean.

I meant to mention the music in my review but ran out of time, so thank you.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 11:32
Nightsky, I actually caught the Americana usage, because I love it so much. In fact, when my daughter and I did a complete rewatch of the series a year and a half ago, she kept track of how many times it was used each season because we both love it. So we both were thrilled to hear it in this ep. But I was referring to different music. It was playing as one of the first flashbacks was beginning (maybe the first one?). And I'm almost positive that it was the music playing when Chuck did his first voiceover about the impala in SS, which led right to the brothers' talk in which Dean signed on to Sam's plan. Which could portend a similar conversation in this weeks ep. But you're right, the music in this ep was such a throwback to the earlier seasons and it has continued this season's trend of continual references to moments from those seasons. Which is one reason why I'm loving it so much. In fact, you could say that the manicorn joke was very reminiscent of Ronald's use of mandroid in Nightshifter, yet another throwback.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 15:13
Just listened to the Impala scene and that seems like more music by Jay Gruska. It's pretty.... I love oboes and reed instruments. Is this the same music from JMI?
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 16:33
No, the music I'm thinking of wasn't played during the brothers' talk on the impala. (But I did love that music as well). It was played during Chuck's voice over about the impala immediately prior to the brothers' conversation. And then I believe it was played in JMI during or right before one of the Sully /Young Sam scenes. Not the Americana scene. Thanks for posting that clip, BTW. American is one reason why Gruska's scores have always been my favorites. It's so haunting, especially when it's just played on the piano. I'll have to check out which scene JMI the music I'm referring to was in and post that. But you're right that it would be fabulous to hear Americana more often. It's been quite awhile. Like you, I'm mystified but very happy about all of the ways in which this season is so reminiscent of the earlier years, and I would love to know what has prompted it. I keep worrying that it's because they know that this will be he last season, so they're trying to come full circle. Hopefully I'm wrong.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 18:07
Sorry, I wasn't clear, it was the scene with Chuck that I was referring to.
I keep worrying that it's because they know that this will be he last season, so they're trying to come full circle. Hopefully I'm wrong.
Nah.. I don't think that's it. Generally when a show is in it's final season, especially a show as long running as this one, they would hype it up as series finale... blah, blah like they did with Superman. No, this seems more like a change of guard to me than an ending. I can't help getting the feeling that maybe an up until now stifled Jeremy Carver suddenly has free rein and a good 2IC and they've overhauled how they are doing everything in relation to the story elements. The show seems almost gleeful in its complex subtext. This season feels like they've had writers sessions and maybe even a story board with an outline of how each episode will fit into the whole. That's they way Kripke did it, and JC worked under Kripke. Even the rookie writer Nancy Won wrote like she knew her stuff. Maybe JC told everyone to go back and rewatch the entire series. I am curious the effect that this is going to have on next week's episode. R-L/B scripts still seem glaringly subpar to me and it's killing me that they are writing such a crucial episode. Shouldn't it be Dabb?
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 19:43
The show seems almost gleeful in its complex subtext. This season feels like they've had writers sessions and maybe even a story board with an outline of how each episode will fit into the whole. That's they way Kripke did it, and JC worked under Kripke.

Agreed! And I'm pretty gleeful about it too. And I also wish it were Dabb who had written the next ep, but even the duo has had some decent eps. However I'm going to be really angry if they botch this one after all of the wonderful eps that have so beautifully set up the mid-season finale!
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 20:03
but even the duo has had some decent eps.
HUH - WHA? You are more generous than I am!!! Here's a list of all their eps:

1.13 Route 666 with Brad Buckner
7.05 Shut Up, Dr. Phil with Brad Buckner
7.13 The Slice Girls with Brad Buckner
7.19 Of Grave Importance with Brad Buckner
8.03 Heartache with Brad Buckner
8.07 A Little Slice of Kevin with Brad Buckner
8.15 Man's Best Friend with Benefits with Brad Buckner
8.19 Taxi Driver with Brad Buckner
9.03 I'm No Angel with Brad Buckner
9.09 Holy Terror with Brad Buckner
9.16 Blade Runners with Brad Buckner
9.21 King of the Damned with Brad Buckner
10.03 Soul Survivor with Brad Buckner
10.10 The Hunter Games with Brad Buckner
10.16 Paint It Black with Brad Buckner
10.21 Dark Dynasty with Brad Buckner
11.03 The Bad Seed with Brad Buckner

Half of these I had to look up because I couldn't even remember. And the other half? Well....... um...... what can one say? Suckage major!
I'd have to say that the only ones I can tolerate even a little are A Little Slice of Kevin and Blade Runners. The others? Ugh. I am pretty certain that after they wrote Route 666 in season 1 that Kripke basically said.... "not on my show!" You notice that they didn't write another episode until well after Kripke's departure in season 7. It's funny, Route 666 is looking pretty good by comparison. Racist trucks and racist witches....what 's with these guys?
# cheryl42 2015-12-06 20:27
I thought Holy Terror was a pretty good episode.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 20:34
Heh... I had to read the synopsis of that one too.... I can barely remember it. Wasn't that the one where they had all that Bart vs. Malachai nonsense that went absolutely nowhere? Wasn't the whole angel war pretty much dropped after this? Well, it wasn't racist like Route 666, and MBFWB and it wasn't destructive to canon like Taxi Driver or inexplicable and contrived like Dark Dynasty, and it wasn't so blisteringly bad like Paint It Black, so I guess I'd put it into the merely forgettable category along with most of the other episodes they write.......... ..too harsh? :P
# cheryl42 2015-12-06 20:44
That was the one where Gadreel took over Sam and killed Kevin.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 21:11
That five minutes of that episode was decent.
# AlyCat22 2015-12-06 20:33
Maybe Eugenie will be like "Ha! Now that that old fossil isn't looking over my shoulder, I get to write whatever I damn well please!!! Muawhahahahaaaa a!!!!" and she'll surprise us all. Shuddup. I can dream can't I?

As far as that list goes some of them were pretty decent. I can't believe they wrote Blade Runners!!! King Of The Damned, Soul Survivor, Hunter Games... all good. Now granted some episodes had really good parts and then crapped out on side stories but looking at that list overall, it looks like they started getting better (comparatively) in Season Nine. Not counting the horrendous Paint It Black. But you know what this team does have on its side? They can claim they never had anything to do with Bloodlines, Bitten or Fan Fiction. ;)
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 20:42
Or Mannequin III: The Reckoning.... catastrophicall y bad that ep.

Still though, in a list of my all-time least favorite episodes R-L/B have the percentage. I can't get it down to 5 eps anymore... these are my least fav 7 in no particular order......

Mannaquin III
Paint It Black
Taxi Driver
Dark Dynasty
Hunter Games - sorry, I though this episode sucked eggs... Claire tries to kill Dean? :( I could happily add Shut Up Dr. Phil and Route 666 to this list along with RT's Book of the Damned to round out my 10 worst. R-L/B make up 70% of my list.
# cheryl42 2015-12-06 20:52
It's probably the other way around. I think RS let his wife run a little wild with her scripts and choices of story lines. I'm not happy they are writing the mid season finale. If only they had the creativity to write a script as entertaining as FF or as bold as Bitten with the intelligence and attention to detail that Robbie Thompson does. I would feel much better. But sadly they tend to write with a paint brush the size of a broom. My expectations are running a little low.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 21:06
You hated Fan Fiction? I'm a bit surprised. Why? I didn't like it as much as most viewers, but I found it mostly enjoyable
# BoGirle 2015-12-07 08:16
I didn't care much for FanFiction either; Sam looked like a moron, and was forgotten and it interrupted the flow of the season, although that's not RT's fault. This doesn't make my 7 worst list because there are other eps I hate more, like Book of the Damned also by R.T. Just the worst most ludicrous evolution of a character I've ever seen on this show.
# BoGirle 2015-12-07 08:14
RT wrote both Bitten and Fan Fiction. He can be pretty hit and miss too....(he also wrote the preposterous BofTD'd). But at least when RT is good, he's very good. Sort of like Dabb....when he misses, boy does he miss (Bloodlines, The Things We Left Behind) but he's got way more good eps than bad.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 20:40
E, I have to agree with Cheryl and Alycat about a few. I liked Holy Terror (quite a lot in fact), Soul Survivor, the two you mentioned and....don't hate me for it- Taxi Driver. Yes, parts of it were bad, but parts of it were excellent. So since I think most of their most recent ones were pretty bad, they're due for a good one, right?:)
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 20:58
Taxi Driver is the WORST..... I'm not sure I'll recover from it ever. :o
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 21:08
It cracks me up that you're still in recovery from TD. What exactly does the treatment consist of?:)
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 21:12
Watching good episodes by reliable writers! Baby helped and so did Form and Void.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 20:59
I suppose that's true, especially if JC re-wrote the script when they weren't looking. One can hope. :D
# cheryl42 2015-12-06 21:00
I'm with you on Taxi Driver I didn't think it was a terrible episode and I never skip over it when I do a rewatch. A lot of stuff happened that was important to the season.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 21:04
And most importantly, there was a freaking awesome bro hug, which gets me every time.:)
# cheryl42 2015-12-06 21:10
Yes one that looked like it hurt Jared.:( But awesome anyway. All those wonderful hugs in S8 sometimes I get nostalgic for the good old days of 3 years ago. 3 years without a hug. 3.....(and hugging dead Dean doesn't count)
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 21:15
God that's true, they didn't hug at all in season's 9 OR 10. We are all in withdrawal.. that's it! Withdrawal. Hopefully they will make up for it this year. Things are certainly more intense between the brothers, more affectionate and connected for the first time in a long, long while. We need a bro-hug.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-12-06 21:15
I know! The hug drought is really grating on me! How could JC follow up the biggest hug per ep season ever with two and a half seasons of no hugs? It's an outrage!:(
# nightsky 2015-12-07 10:44
I keep worrying that it's because they know that this will be the last season, so they're trying to come full circle.
Alice posted an opinion (somewhere on this site, I don't remember where) a few weeks ago that we're fairly certain there will be a s12. The boys are LOVING what they are doing this season so we're on record that we're really optimistic (almost certain).
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 15:00
As far as the music goes it could have been the music known as "Americanna" and often referred to as Dean's theme. It's original music composed by Jay Gruska and was used a lot in the early years during emotional scenes, especially scenes where family was the overriding theme.

Here's a link:

Was this the music that you heard? They've gotten away from using it lately, but it would be all kinds of awesome if it along with great story telling and rich characterizatio ns was making a comeback!

Sorry didn't' see the replies before I fired this off!! Ah well, redundant, redundant.... still it's nice to have the music back. I'd give my I-teeth to know exactly what's happened behind the scenes as things are so very clearly different than what they were. I know that Adam Glass left the show and then Bob Singer stepped back.... but geez, it's like a whole different show. It's interesting again, it's asking the tough moral questions again, showing us shades of gray again, being clever with subtext again (like the train thing, and the music, and turn's of phrase that repeat from episode to episode) MoW episodes relate the the overall myth arc again! But I am sure that in the world of the show discussing it would be like airing dirty laundry and we'll probably never hear much about it. Still though, I challenge anyone going to the next con (Jacksonville I think) to ask a question about it. I CHALLENGE YOU!!!
# nightsky 2015-12-07 10:57
I'd give my I-teeth to know exactly what's happened behind the scenes as things are so very clearly different than what they were. I know that Adam Glass left the show and then Bob Singer stepped back.... but geez, it's like a whole different show.

...and Dabb took over as head writer. I have been wondering the same thing. I could never bring it up because it would be insulting legends of the show, but something changed to give somebody the freedom they needed to make the show great. THIS is what I expected from Jeremy when he took over.
# cheryl42 2015-12-07 13:28
I think this is the show that Jeremy Carver wanted. This is his show now and you are right this is what I was expecting in S8. Having Andrew Dabb as the head writer seems to be a great collaboration so far.
# BoGirle 2015-12-09 19:37
This is the kind of show I was expecting too when I'd heard that JC took over. It's kind of sad to think that he's possibly been sitting around on his hands and holding his tongue in deference to the show's old timers for all this time and not getting to do things the way that he's wanted. I was so optimistic when he was announced and then so bitterly disappointed with what we got. Maybe this is what he's been wanting to do all along. I'm surprised that he stayed as long as he did if he's not really been running the show till now. It wouldn't surprise me though, I heard much the same thing about 6 and 7, that the lions share of the decisions came from Singer and not Gamble and that there was a good deal of friction among the writers. It seems to me that many of the problems with 6 and 7 are/were similar to the problems with 8,9,10 mostly hinging on canon and consistency issues and a lopsided POV among the leads.
# BoGirle 2015-12-06 17:46
I liked this episode too, and like it even more after discussing it. There were a few things that I felt didn't work. like you said Nightsky, some of the humor was off for me. The 'manicorn' comment didn't bother me too much as it seemed an extension of Dean's 'werepire' comment from Baby and even an extension of season 6's "Jefferson Starships." Dean really seems to like making up new names for the things they encounter. I did think that the family shower comment was not funny though, agree with you on that one....too much. And maybe I'm alone in this, but I didn't really care for the mother slipping around in Sparkle's blood and smearing it everywhere. It seemed kind of like cheap, obvious humor and I couldn't help but wonder what her daughter might think if she saw her mother like that. 'Scarred for life' is the phrase that comes to mind. Another thing I didn't care for was the inconsistent way in which children seemed to end up with an imaginary friend in the first place. It seemed pretty clear that Zanna sought out children who, for whatever reason, needed an imaginary friend; that there is some detriment in the family that prompts them to go to the children to help them. This was pretty clear with Sam and the little boy befriended by Weems, as it was made clear that that boy's mother had a drinking problem. But I didn't see that need in the other two children. The first girl in particular seemed to have a storybook life, and doting, involved parents. And the child herself was a bit manipulative, and that bothered me some. I wish that they had made the need that each of these children had more clear. Maybe that would have made the story a bit more sad, but it also would have made the entire concept of the Zanna stronger.

And I also had trouble with Dean's turnaround in the bad gal monologue scene. I got it, he was defending Sully and maybe that means he had grown to understand what Sam was going through as a kid and the role Sully played in that, but I didn't see that in any of the preceding scenes and so the turnaround at the end seemed sudden and unearned to me. If Sam and Dean had shared a 30 second conversation about Sully and Sam's need for him (other than the "I was a lonely kid" comment at the start of the episode when Dean wasn't ready to hear it) maybe further into the episode, I think Dean's sudden reversal in the bad gal monologue scene would have made more sense. Dramatically it didn't quite work for me. That being said, I loved how gentle and caring Sully was, and I loved, loved, loved getting into Sam's head. God it's been SOOOO long. It's too bad it wasn't Dean, but it was someone who knew Sam and had only Sam's best interests at heart. Jared is just killing it this season; that scene was heart wrenching.