This is a repost of my review for "My Bloody Valentine" that was posted at blogcritics yesterday.  I've got a few discussion points going, especially at the end regarding the progress of season five.  I would love some opinions on that!  Happy reading to those that haven't seen this yet.

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Um...Wow. That's a Valentine’s Day Sam and Dean will never forget. 
If you're going to ruin a Hallmark holiday with one of those pesky four horsemen crashing the celebration, I can't think of a better person to take on the task than Ben Edlund. After all, he doesn't just ruin a holiday. He obliterates it. In this case, he deals a major setback to all three of our heroes. Sure they won the battle, but were left heaping piles of mush in the end. You know, the angst filled episode that pretty much harms all our psyches and keeps us coming back for more. 
This episode is classic Edlund. For one, it must be gross. The show didn't beat around the bush as two star crossed and literally sexually starved lovers brought a new meaning to the cliché "eat you alive" before we even saw the title sequence.  I won’t even mention the guy who overdosed on twinkies and the carnage at Biggersons.  Second, the supporting characters are usually very quirky. That quota is easily filled by Cupid, or a pasty white middle aged naked man loaded with joy, love, and too many female hormones. Third, the plot usually builds slowly only to careen way out control by the end.   Check, check, and check.

The Breakdown
Once I fought to keep down my dinner from that opening scene, the first clue that something's wrong comes quickly. Dean has no desire to whore around on Valentine's Day. That worries Sam. The second clue happens next scene when Sam can vividly hear the heartbeat and smell the blood of a demon that happens to walk by. I don’t think he could always do that. The third clue isn’t far behind either, for not only does Dean not want his burger but Castiel does. A theory is formed thanks to Enochian symbols Sam finds on the hearts of the cannibal victims. One quick call to Castiel (and funny arrival) is all they need. Cupid has gone rogue. It’s interesting how Castiel, a fallen angel, talks of a cupid, or cherub third class, with such belittlement. Angels are truly an arrogant bunch. 
Castiel traps said Cupid, who’s nothing but pure marshmallow inside. He’s a softie that uses bear hugs as handshakes and joyfully follows his orders setting up people for love before moving on. When harshly accused of killing people by Dean and Castiel, this cherub reacts the way any oversensitive angel would. He cries. Yep, a little boy in a pasty white naked middle aged man. Cupid does manage to innocently drop one bombshell though. Orders from above had a cherub fix up John and Mary Winchester. Top priority. Dean and Sam had to be born. So the meeting of the two bloodlines was not accidental. Dean doesn’t take this news well, the big clue being when he punches Cupid.   Sam and Castiel stand stunned in the background, seeing the absurdity of punching a sweet harmless cherub. Dean won't talk about it though. No, something isn’t right. 
The deaths get weirder (shuddering over twinkie guy) and pretty soon it’s clear this goes beyond Cupid. They’re proven right when Sam corners the mystery demon in the alley because his scent in now unbearable. Sam cuts him with Ruby’s knife before the demon runs off and uh oh, the blood triggers something. Sam is losing control. Oh, and the briefcase said demon left behind holds a human soul. Castiel, now in full burger chomping form thanks to his vessel Jimmy (how many burgers did Misha have to eat filming this?) concludes Famine is in town. As in the Horseman. By the time this is discovered it’s woefully too late. People are dying from their hunger for either food, drink, sex or greed. Castiel is too focused on food and Sam is coming apart at the seams. Yet Dean isn’t hungry for anything. More coming on that. Sam in fact is so aware of his unbearable starvation for demon blood that he has Dean lock him down before they leave to go after Famine. Sam also hears the overwhelming sound of blood pumping constantly. An interesting homage to Poe maybe?   Sam is handcuffed to the sink and Castiel moves a giant chest in front of the bathroom door. That should hold him, right? If you think so, you so don't watch this show.
So, who is this Famine anyway? He's a weak, frail old man on a respirator in a wheelchair. One very creepy weak, frail old man on a respirator in a wheelchair. Satan's minions, aka lower class demons, are his caretakers and Famine’s “black steed” is nothing more than a black Escalade. It seems wherever this guy goes, his hunger oozes from him and other people latch onto it. So what a better place to do some damage than at a Biggerson's All You Can Eat restaurant? (Nice season three continuity). That biting twist of irony is also trademark for an Edlund script. A swarm of locusts in stretch pants indeed. 
Castiel, whose plan is to go in and cut off the finger holding the Horsemen's ring, ala War in "Good God Y'all", is easily thwarted by a tray of raw hamburger. Oh gross! That leaves Dean, who while not overcome by Famine's effect physically is a prime target to have his head messed with. Just like War messing with Sam GGYA, Famine makes Dean see the ugly truth about himself. He is only going through the motions. He's not hungry because he's dead inside. Sadly, Dean accepts this truth and is emotionally crushed.  
That would be enough for me to crumble in a weeping heap for our hero but no, it gets worse. You see, while Dean and Cas are on their misadventure, two horribly stupid demons free a out-of-his-freaking- mind-by-this-time Sam. They obviously forgot this is the dude that took out the almighty Lilith, because Sam overpowers the one male demon, tackles in lightening quick fashion the female demon, slits her throat and gets his snack. Just when we thought this couldn’t get any more shocking, the male demon tries to get Sam off his cohort, only to get flung across the room by a now amped up Sam. With bloody face and crazy eyes, Sam delivers THE most chilling line of the season. â€œWait your turn.” Whoa Sammy! 
Sam, floating on a major high, arrives just in time to help a shaken Dean, except Dean gets even far more shaken watching Sam. Famine offers the blood of all the demons in the room to Sam, saying he won’t die from too much because he’s the exception to the rule.  Sam resists the offer. How does he? The way I see it, Sam doesn’t just crave the blood. He craves the power too. He came there more itching to use his power than get blood.  Dean watches in horror as Sam stretches out his hand and takes out five demons at once. When Sam does this of course, he looks like he’s savoring it, like a junkie getting a major fix. This is the first time than Dean has ever seen Sam’s powers in full force and it’s every bit as jarring as he could imagine. Probably worse. A helpless and horrified Dean watches as Sam goes for Famine next. You see, Famine just ate those souls that Sam exorcised, so Sam takes out the hungry old man by killing the demons that he just ingested. The spell is broken, but the personal damage has already been done. 
No, Mr. Edlund isn’t done with us yet, even though we’re feeling around on the floor to find our dropped jaws. The trio is back at Bobby’s. Castiel and Dean somberly stand outside the panic room listening to the gut wrenching screams of a detoxing Sam locked inside. Castel tries to assure Dean that’s not Sam, but Dean is already too unnerved and broken. He goes for air and appropriately next to the Impala has his meltdown. All he can do is tearfully look at the sky and admit he needs help. â€œPlease?” 
Now That I’m a Quivering Mess…
I thought I had a lot to absorb last week! I’ll just go point by point.
Is Dean really dead inside? Yes, and no. Sure, last season the point was constantly made that Dean left a little part of himself back in Hell. Plus, judging by his speech at the end of “Sam Interrupted” such behavior of “burying it” certainly kills someone’s spirit after a while. But Dean’s reaction to seeing Sam? His meltdown at the end? That is not a man too far gone. There is plenty of hope for him. The question is who’s going to pull him out of it? That I suppose is what the rest of the season is for.
John and Mary were brought together by a cupid? So much for that destiny playing out crap. I really do wonder who gave that order. Maybe that’s a sign that there’s hope after all for avoiding the Lucifer/Michael showdown. Or maybe not. 
Oh Sammy. You see, this gets interesting. Sure, he got a taste of demon blood again, but he also got a taste of its power. He took out a horseman (or at least disabled him). What makes us think he won’t be tempted to use that power again to take out Lucifer or another horseman? Will he finally admit to Dean and himself that he doesn’t need to demon blood to channel that power? He could also pull back, fearing that he again betrayed Dean’s trust. He looked ashamed in admitting he needed to be locked down.   The possibilities are huge. 
“My Bloody Valentine” felt like a season four episode. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what’s been missing in season five and I got a partial answer here. Sam and Dean have spent a huge amount of time not doing much except fretting over their destinies. Sam hasn’t used his powers all season and I see now that played a big role in amping up season four. His saga is far less interesting when he spends more than half a season trying to avoid that dark and powerful side. Ditto for Dean “going through the motions.” Where’s that defiant leader, that take charge kind of guy? Also, a watered down Castiel isn’t helping either. He too made up a big part of season four and has done little this season. I seriously hope that this episode becomes a turning point that sets this season back on the epic course that season four followed.  
Since I gave last week’s episode an A+, this one would by default then have to be an A++. Ben Edlund at the 100th Episode party promised some epic things to come for the rest of the season. I’m dying to see how they top this.

Comments  

Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-16 14:55
Fine, as always, Alice, thanks for posting this here.

I agree with you that Sam appeared ashamed for thinking of demon blood again, infatuated by Famine, but then again – he has been hungry for that kind of power the whole time, just tuning it down, for Dean’s benefit?

I think, despite the bad conscience he must have regarding the matter, I believe he might also emerge with more confidence from this.
After all, he detected that demon without having had blood. He might try to remember that and hone his skills, remember that ‘you didn’t need the feather to fly, you had it in you’. Come on, Sammy, shed that nightly colour and accept who you are.

Interesting point – that they spent so much time fretting over their destinies. You have a point here. I think they also progressed, though, not always for the better.

Dean, after all he’s fought for, is losing hope. I think if he does not find any, he will say yes. No matter what he does, he keeps getting that destiny crap thrown in his face.
Can’t anyone hand him my favourite poem, Invictus, by William Henley – ‘It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’. Come on, sweetie, remember that…
He’s at his strength’s end. Can we blame him? He lost his brother again in a way, I’m sure he must be thinking that to some extent.

I agree, Dean’s sentiment here is quite in the neighbourhood of season four. I wonder what the writers intend with that….
I don’t think they can afford any longer to not get to the apocalypse. There aren’t that many episodes left, and if they plan to end this myth arc this season, they have to get going. I believe this last episode was a turning point.

Sam might become still the chosen one, Jedi de luxe, and defeat Lucifer with his powers… after all, we are informed that there are only a few things that could kill the devil, and Sam’s powers might just be in that line, who knows? I have no idea to bring this about, yet, but I’m curious.
What if Sam might need to be the devils vessel to unleash any super-powers he might own? Somehow I like the idea- Sam letting Lucifer in, and then bring about his downfall – with one more spectacular Sam-Death, I guess. It doesn’t get far in this show without self-sacrifice, eh? Ah, I have no idea. My mind is still all wacky with the great news of a sixth season (and I honestly had doubted it, I thought it would go out with a bang. And I still think the show should go out on top, one day, and not when viewers will have lost interest, that would be terrible).

Thanks, Alice, Love Jas
trina
# trina 2010-02-16 15:54
Great review, as always. I do have to disagree about the nature of Sam's hunger. I took it as a sign of hope that Sam was able to say no. He didn't say "I don't want the blood" or "I don't need the blood". He just said no. He spent the episode struggling against his craving for blood, displaying a level of strength he never had before in asking for help. To have him completely overtaken by his weakness would cheapen his previous actions in the episode.

I think back to "On the Head of a Pin", which also had Sam drinking blood and then being able to kill a very powerful enemy and saving Dean and Castiel There is a big difference though, in that in OTHOAP Sam asked for the blood, was eager for it. In "My Bloody Valentine" he was struggling against it, was only overtaken because of an outside force. To have the outcome be the same pretty much makes Sam's struggle pointless. Then again, maybe that's the point. After all, this season has been rather stingy in the hope department.

For me, this episode seemed to be pointing more and more to Dean saying Yes, while for Sam it is looking less and less likely.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-16 16:08
I don't think that - should Sam give in to some more blood - it would be another sign of weakness or cheapening his efforts. On the contrary.

If he accepted who he is (a kid with special powers who in fact does not need the blood as a catalyst), he'd take a huge step towards being more confident with that.

It is in him. He was fed with blood as a baby, and he 'can't scrup it clean'. I have never lost confidence in the man, but - judging from the acting possibilities - to have Sam go all powerful again, yet differently, would be a real treat. And Jared is the kind of actor to pull about anything off.

I know I would give anything in his place to get the chance of playing against character.
;-), Jas
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-02-16 16:15
I think that Sam will eventually find out that he doesn't need the demon blood to exercise his powers. Also, I have a strong feeling that these powers will be a key element in defeating Lucifer. Like I said before, if he used his powers to release Lucifer, the only way of redemption left to him is to use the powers to undo the wrong. Let's just see how this will play out.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-16 16:33
That's what I meant, Andrea, I hope Sam's powers will be crucial to Lucifer downfall. There has to be a reason to them...
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-02-16 16:44
Jas, you must be very happy, as I am, with the return of the powers, huh? I remember that in our first conversations we discussed how much we both missed them. Well, so some dreams come true...

Jared reportedly loves to play Sam's dark side, and it shows. He puts in some of his strongest performances when in Evil/Possessed Sammy mode. Ah, the possibilities! :D
trina
# trina 2010-02-16 16:51
I would LOVE for Sam to get the opportunity to use his powers and have it help save the world, to take this evil thing that was done to him and use it to destroy the bad guys. I just don't want to see a redux of season 4 with everyone telling him how evil his powers are while he goes around saving people.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-02-16 17:03
Trina, interesting point. I wonder if Dean will eventually come to the point of having to decide whether to use Sam as a "nuclear warhead" for the greater good or let him "die human".
Randal
# Randal 2010-02-16 18:42
I hope this goes through, I keep on getting booted (not WFB, Alice, which is working fine, but my stupid computer). I'd be shocked if Sam's powers *weren't* a major part of bringing Lucifer down. What are their strengths? In time, Sam using his humanity to channel AND control his powers for good (so that even Dean gets it) and Dean's natural leadership and cleverness (and ill-timed one-liners). If, as Kripke said, (and I'm paraphrasing obviously) this is a big middle finger to both heaven and hell, then this is how you do it.

Betcha the Big Cheese tells Dean to chill and be there for Sam. He/she/it knows his/her/its angels are dicks.

C'mon everyone, we all know the last eight are gonna be one crazy mofo of a train ride. I'd be shocked *shocked!* if there were any unconnected standalones. Which means there will be, muah.
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-02-16 19:38
Love your review, Alice, thanks for sharing!

Me, too, am eager to see the Winchesters (and Cas) finally land a punch. They are fighting and struggling and all they get is misery.

Sam using his powers to destroy Lucifer, I don't know, I mean, his powers are demon-given (YED feeding him with demon blood), and why would a demon create a demon-killer? Oops, but he did. Sam is killing demons with powers given to him by a demon ... am I getting something wrong here? If his powers have nothing to do with the demon blood, then what's the meaning of the demon blood? And if Lucifer wants Sam's powers ('You're my ONLY vessel'), what are his intentions? Killing demons?
Questions over questions, I need some answers. Please?

So, Dean shows the classic clinical depression? Well, can't blame him, it's a miracle he's still standing. Asking for help is good, and, yes, the time has come to actually get some help. The apocalypse is going on for over a year now without any victories for Team Earth, and now it should end in 3 month? Doesn't look good for Team Earth. But should look good for us viewers, I'm guessing the rest of S5 will be all apocalypse arc. .... It's time God showed up.

Sorry for this long rambling, it's late, I'm tired, but can't keep away from this site. I guess, will need a panic room after this show ends. :|
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-17 01:26
Well, with Dean losing for the moment to depression, Sam will have to carry the light (and since he is a good guy, it will be light, not utter darkness), be the strong part, the one Dean could rely on - when he will begin to believe in Sam's powers.

Both of them need to do that. And I hope Sam will not be afraid any longer of who he is, rather embrace whatever power might live in him and - well - fight fire with fire. The demons gave him that kind of power, why not use it against them?

It looks like Sam is going to be the crucial part in this fight, perhaps pulling Dean out of his misery (I would surely love to see that, baby brother saving the big one).

The writers will have some surprises for us, I'm sure, and perhaps sometimes they smile over our speculations (should they read them)...

I agree, it's about time God makes that promised appearance. I'm still dreaming of Meryl Streep in that part.... I know, I know... a gal can dream, right? Dream on....

Take care everyone, Jas
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-17 01:29
Oh, AndreaW, sorry, kinda missed your post - you're right, I'm really happy to see Sam's powers return. I remember well our rooting for them - and here they are.
I'm looking very much forward to Jared working his acting mojo. I just love some great performance... as if I was the only one here... ;-)
love Jas
Robin Vogel
# Robin Vogel 2010-02-17 08:16
Here's what's interesting--Sa m's powers are supposedly demon-given, but Satan, aka Lucifer, is originally an ANGEL, folks! So when you really think about it, a renegade angel is the origin of Sam's powers!

Lucifer was a good guy once, and only was sent to hell by "Daddy," aka God, because he hated humans. Michael, his big brother sent him down there. So the family dynamic is very interesting and super-dysfuncti onal.

Should be very fascinating to see what goes down.

Love, Robin
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-02-17 08:56
Hi Alice, a great review of an epic episode.
I really, really love it, it's a gem for sure. And I can't wait to see the rest of this season... And the next one for which a big YAY is in order :-)

Re: Sams powers. I can't even express how happy I am to see them back. I was really worried after some gossipping at the end of S4 about the "you shot your payload on the boss" that the powers were gone for sure. Glad I was wrong. I love the idea that that the powers are evil in origin and yet, used for good. I liked Sams line about taking this curse and making something good out of it... Even though his intentions might've been a little twisted. I mean to wield that much power can be (will be) corrupting... But I think that Jas might be on to something, Sam has to accept what he is, what has happened (AND get rid of that big pile of anger festing in and draining him) to him, and then he will be able to move on and use the power with pure intentions and control them. Or I dunno... I just love all the possibilities.

And I agree that Dean can't be all dead inside, he does still care. But you can see that he's turning numb more and more. He's been that way (more) since he came back from hell, since he started to remember what happenend there. I can't believe how he hasn't broken down yet but I guess it's because when that happens he'll say yes. Which I hope won't happen but it sure looks that way. I have this hope in my heart of hearts that this hole pesky Mike vs. Lucky Celebrity Deathmatch could be handled 'without' the chosen vessels but I guess only time will tell.

Re: The Cupid. Even though I loved the innocence and pure goofy love that shone from the Cupid, I was a little Huh? with the revelation that John and Mary were (for the lack of a better word) forced together, a match made in heaven apparently... I mean, in the eppie before that Mike stressed the importance of "random acts" (of a perfect plan nevertheless) that led to his parents meeting and getting together... I mean, why didn't he just say that they fixed them together? That does dampen their epic lovestory that they didn't even like each other but were "hexed" to fall in love... It's sad really. I hope that gets some kind of explanation or clarification.. . Or hell, even a total renunciation, I could live with that ;-)

But I this eppie is a master piece and can't wait to see this arch concluded. Oh but the 5 weeks...? Are going to torture me Pesky Olympics :evil:
Randal
# Randal 2010-02-17 09:19
The show stresses humanity, and given our flexibility, what's more human than taking something negative and turning it into a positive? Sure, he won't be able to ice Lucifer (talk about screwing with the internal consistency) but if he manages to learn Carradine Kung-Fu control, I can certainly see him being a huge reason why Lucifer gets sent back down.

Re: Mary and John. More angel agitprop. Don't buy it for a second. Unless I'm wrong, then go to hell, Kripke. :D
JulieUk
# JulieUk 2010-02-17 10:17
What a wonderful review Alice, what food for thought.
This is an episode that just keeps going round and round in my mind. I guess everyone has their own take on it and also hopes as to how things move on from here.
I am clinging desperately to Sams quote from FTBYAM "There is reason for hope",
One of the things that gave me some hope was the way Sam talked to Dean and Cas when he knew he was in trouble-- no more hiding things, got to be a huge step forward. Team free really do seem to be a TEAM.
Still refuse to believe Dean is dead inside, no one who is could care so much for others as he still does. He has been struggling for so long and is exhausted, absolutely desperate and he has just witnessed Sammy at full throttle for the first time, which would scare the crap out of anyone, especially seeing this in someone you love. In his depleted state do you wonder at the meltdown.
I am banking on the pleas reaching the right ears and the long awaited appearence of God is going to be the turning point for our team, and surely having him onside has to be a good thing.
Also wondering about Gabriel, as I think Deans words hit home with him. He could yet be another ally for our little gang, and of course there`s also Jessie , as Sam said he was one of the most powerful beings they have encountered good also to have him onside.
Sorry I`m rambling but just so many possibilities and permutations, but then is this not why we love this show so much.
Bottom line our boys will rise from the ashes of this and win. They just have to. Cannot wait to see where we go from here, think the rest of the seasson is going to be full throttle and a very bumpy ride for us all
Suze
# Suze 2010-02-17 11:16
I do think they need to crack on with the apocalypse ... It's all been a bit stop/ startish so far and I really hope it doesn't drag on into season 6 ( WHEEE! Season 6! Say it again! :D )

Hope Dean gets his mojo back ASAP, too ... I've really, really had enough of the whole Judith Starkadder face-down-in-th e-furrows-I'm-a n-empty-husk-fi lled-with-black -despair stuff. I want the old titties and beer and two fingers up to the whole damn world Dean back. It's the only way to win, to be more horribly human than the opposition can handle.

I think Sam using his Devil powers to defeat the hosts of Heaven and Hell would be brilliant, and a poke in the eye for all the submit-to-your- destiny merchants, but who knows what the twisted minds at SPN HQ have got in store for us ... Could be Ewoks ... Be afraid ... :lol:
Randal
# Randal 2010-02-17 13:51
No, no Ewoks. What's next, Dean shoots first?