There is a lot to love about Red Meat. It’s maybe been a while since we’ve seen a werewolf and they weren’t really a major focus here. Instead they were a background nuisance to the frontline story – about family, because that is was Supernatural focuses on the best after all. We have a young, newlywed couple on their honeymoon who’ve been saved by Sam and Dean from hungry pure-bloods. The cost is a bullet to Sam’s gut and, unbeknownst to the foursome initially, an infection of werewolf for our young groom.
It was an interesting way to tell the story, diving into the action and the apparent-killshot before the quick rewind to the researching brothers, in the dim bunker hunting (pardon the pun) for a Cas-saving solution. From here, the episode had good flow and great emotional investment; as it usually does when one of our boys are on the line. The moments in the diner were brief but enough to make it obvious the diner owner and/or waitress as well as the large customer? Bouncer? Were involved in what was happening even before they showed up at the cabin the next morning. Too helpful. From here, we – excuse the phrase – get to the meat of the story, which comes down to the lengths that are okay to go for those we love and where that line might be crossed.
Man v Monster: Secondary Friends
Supernatural has always exceled with the secondary characters and Michelle and Corbin fit the bill – they were just complex enough to invest in. Despite turning out to be an infected and crazed werewolf by the end, Corbin was desperate and wanted to save his wife badly. So, even though I was rooting for his demise after he smothered Sam, I still couldn’t see him as black and white bad guy. Desperate situations and desire to protect his loved ones; even though she didn’t approve of what he’d done Michelle could understand his motives. Actually, you can’t help but wonder if by the Corbin smothered Sam – was that the man or the wolf acting?
Bereaved Big Brother
Sam and Dean have had their share of death scenes, as the “Then” recap so enthusiastically flashed for us. These many deaths have been funny, fantastic, bloody and tragic and nearly every combination therein. But no matter how many times one brother dies and the other is left to stand, no matter if we know it isn’t the Final Death – it doesn’t make that grief-stricken, tearful moment any less heart-wrenching. The death scene was nearly as emotional as 2.22 from the energy between Sam and Dean, the look on Dean’s face and the hauntingly similar pose of Dean over Sam’s still and bleeding form – bleeding from a like abdominal wound no less. The sheer hopelessness in the moment as Dean arms with his knife and invites the wolves to come relays just how little Dean feels he has left – his brother.
Nevertheless, Dean chooses the “saving people” option. I can’t help wondering what the option would have been if it were fully informed by the information of exactly how Sammy had “died” at Corbin’s hand. It did seem to be a connection with Michelle that ultimately convinced Dean to leave with the newlyweds, so it’s hard to speculate.
Clearly donning the role of optimist and encouragement master these days, Sam provided – at least for the few speaking moments he shared – the cheer throughout the episode. You know, when he was trying not to die.
The rest of the episode reminded us just how bad ass Sam Winchester actually is. Two scenes specifically underscore this for me personally. The moment of him luring in and killing the mondo-wolfman is great – but the best moment here is actually the one they don’t even have to put on scene; the implication is enough.
Our blonde diner-owner smiles with self-satisfaction, figuring she has Sam where she wants him and heads to the basement. One moment later, it’s bleeding, stone-faced Sam who emerges, having killed her too. Bad Ass.
The second awesome moment, of course, is when Sam saves Dean in the hospital, whose only response is “What took you so long?”
Frankly, the irony of the fact that Corbin was determined to leave Sam because he’d “slow them down” when it is ultimately Sam who kills the two purebloods, makes it back to the Impala and then to the hospital and ultimately shoots a transformed Corbin himself – well, that just has to be acknowledged.
Admittedly, I was both cynical and skeptical about the idea of bringing reapers into the “dead brother” mix again. Truly, how many times, how many ways can you tell that particular story? But it was a brief, interesting surprise and Billie stuck to her guns: no trade, no deals and no more resurrections.
Fortunately for Dean, the one and only medical personnel (or staff member of any kind, by all appearance) at the shockingly under-patiented medical facility, had a very competent hand.
Of the conversation between Billie and Dean, one thing in particular did raise the eyebrow: the idea that Dean lied about Sam being the only one able to stop Amara. Was this just a clever way to roll the words around – because technically any human being with the willpower and knowhow could stop her – or did Dean just not disclose that truth about his own incapability due to his bond with Amara and Sam’s necessity in the equation as a result? Was this some sort of teaser, the idea that Sam isn’t in fact the one who will do the deed? It was such a brief exchange, arguably the meeting between these two characters simply didn’t need the clutter of the Darkness storyline beyond what it received – but it made this view wonder nevertheless.
The brothers’ relationship is well illustrated by the lengths they stretch, independent but equally unwavering, for each other. Sam is hell-bent on surviving and reaching Dean, knowing the sleeping that is our groom. This pushes him through against all odds.
Likewise, Dean gets the bride and groom to the safety of the police at the road and then tries – and fails – to return to (as far as he knows) Sam’s body. The next bet, contacting Billie, is made with great risk. Dean’s conversation with Michelle implies he hasn’t forgotten their last conversation.
The Winchester Boys always find each other – and save each other – despite the odds. Even Sam wonders what his brother did under the misillusion of death – correctly assuming Dean to have taken insane risks, be they supernatural or human, to return Sam to the living.
Red Meat was a great episode and definitely worth a second watch (or more). The episode put an interesting perspective on the question of what a monster looks like: after all, Corbin arguably acted out of love and a desire to protect his wife, right? Was he man or monster? And it poses the question, better to sacrifice one for the many? The episode was also an interesting “blaze of glory” adventure for Sam, without the finale of death – which was fun to watch.
So, what are your final thoughts? Share below!