There’s more to Sam Winchester than meets the eye
We already knew that, and yet this episode, the first of a three-part finale, gave another character study of the younger Winchester that showed us some more aspects of his nature, amazingly so.
This episode begins in a lab, exposing two doctors to the Croatoan virus. We don’t hear of the surviving scientist, but he could just be the one who will carry the virus out into the world to pave the streets with blood so that the events we learned about in The End will not stumble on their way to the apocalypse. In addition to that, Pestilence has loosened some swine flu infection, at least it appears to be so to the MDs responsible – and not for the first time I wish 28Days Later was a compulsory subject at Med School.
Again the Winchester brothers are (sort-of) forced to team up with the most unusual of allies. Another great character resurfaces out of the blue, after living under a stone like a ‘bloody salamander’: ‘The name’s Crowley’, and he’s so suave, funny and creative that I could easily imagine Bela having an affair with this guy. He is intriguing. We just don’t know what his agenda is, yet. 
Personally, after recalling the numerous encounters with demons, I incline to believe that Crowley might have struck a bargain of some sort with Lucifer to save his skin. Looking at an eternity of torture on planet Satan surely is no promising idea to this arrogant schmuck.

Was Brady (wonderfully played by Eric Johnson, by the way, gosh, I hated his guts) the only demon around who could have given them the whereabouts of the disgusting horseman? Or did it have to be Brady to push Sam more into anger mode, since Lucifer already mentioned how much he relied on all that wrath in the younger Winchester’s soul… All part of a secret scheme?

Also, Crowley is the one providing us with moments of laughter while watching this episode, and we need them. It is not yet the heartbreak de luxe I expected, but there are moments that kept me on edge.
Crowley’s one-liners gave me the occasional breather I was grateful for. ‘They ate my tailor!’ Hilarious. ‘Mine (the hellhound he brought) is bigger!’ Who said, size wouldn’t matter? Fantastic baddy. In the end he even gets Bobby to ponder to sell his soul, respectively borrow it. We know that he will do it. The demon has been selling ‘sins to saints for centuries’.
The loose ends are going to be tied up, it seems. The storylines we’ve followed for five seasons are making sense and some will come to a close. Many issues are addressed here – the brothers’ fear, their guilt, their mistrust. Crowley, with his quicksilver mind, is one who pushes the right buttons, while Brady is another. Damn you, demons. You are masters, indeed, with manipulation and deceit. The key here might be to add a not too small portion of truth to this paranormal Croatoan Dry.
While the brothers still try dealing with some of those truths, the demons push them into their faces: the guilt issues they keep in their souls concerning the deaths of friends dear, like Ellen and Jo (‘We lost people on that suicide run, good people!’ – ‘Who you take on the ride is your own damn business’) and the inevitable pull of innocent Jessica into a supernatural scheme she was no part of and Sam almost escaped (‘You had a devil on your shoulder even then.’)… but was not allowed to and her death ensured that.
Crowley even manages to convince Dean to go on a mission with him – and by that leaving Sam behind which is a major weight being dropped here: after arguing with Sam for almost a whole season about how Sam chose a demon over his own brother which resulted in Dean’s difficulties with trusting him ever again (and in part he still doesn’t) – now Dean follows a similar path, teaming up with Crowley according to the demon’s rules. The shock on Sam’s face (after first looking at Crowley in triumph for being sure Dean would not do that) tore at my heart. I believe Dean knew what he was doing to Sam in that moment, but eleventh hour methods are at play now and he is desperate. He is not yet back to his former self, and I’m grateful for that, because it makes sense. Psychologically. But that’s just me.

Crowley, however, had good reason to leave Sam behind – Sam probably would have jeopardized the mission entirely. He needed some time to get a grip in regard to Brady later on. On the spot who knows what might have happened, and the demon could not have that unaccounted element.
This is going to get ugly.
Apart from being a promising set up for dreadful things to come, this episode delivers another perfect study of Sam Winchester’s state of mind. And boy, did Jared deliver!
There is so much beneath the surface that it scares me. I remember some of Ed Harris’ movies, an actor I respect immensely, in my opinion one of the best American actors alive.
Harris has a unique way of showing absolute and moving tenderness and is capable of being utterly and disastrously terrifying in his anger an instant later. Jared is not yet a part of the acting league Harris belongs to, of course, but he has the talent to be one day, as he shows the same quality regarding his display of barely controlled rage. It’s almost coming out of the tv set, dripping onto your floor and creeping up your spine while watching him…
It’s the kind of rage that scares me the most – the dangerously quiet kind, like the sea pulling back from shore in silence before unleashing a lethal tsunami.
Sam is no stranger to drinking. After Dean leaves with Crowley, Sam gets into a devastating mode, hurt and disappointed and probably afraid that Dean might have gone back to mistrusting him, he turns to Bobby and empties a whole bottle of Whiskey – and is still able to walk straight. He has been drinking often, obviously. We only haven’t seen it. A man showing hardly any signs of having consumed alcohol has developed some tolerance in that department. His mind is clear. He is not light-headed, but straight to the point, although the alcohol might have triggered some of the hubris that eventually made Sam believe at the end of season four that he was strong enough to stop Lilith.

Sam:    When Meg told you to kill Dean, you didn’t. You took your body back.
Bobby: Just long enough to shank myself.
Sam:    How’d you do it? I mean, how did you take back the wheel?
Bobby: Why are you asking, Sam?
Sam:    Say, we can open the cage, great. But then what: we just lead the devil to the edge and get him to jump in?
Bobby: You got me.
Sam:    What if you lead the devil to the edge – and I jump in?
Bobby: Sam…
Sam:    It’ll be just like you turned the knife back on yourself. One action, just one leap.
Bobby. Are you idjits trying to kill me? We just got done talking your brother off the ledge and now you’re lining up to say yes?
Sam:    It’s not like that. I’m not gonna do it. Not unless we all agree. But I think we gotta look at our options.
Bobby: This isn’t an option, Sam!
Sam:    Why not?
Bobby: You can’t do it. What I did was a million to one and that was some piss ant demon I was brainwrestling. You’re talking about taking back control from Satan himself.
Sam:    Yeah. Yeah, I am.
Bobby: Kid, it’s called possession for a reason. You of all people oughta know.
Sam:    I’m strong enough.
Bobby: You ain’t. He’s gonna find every chink in your armour, Sam, and use it against you. Your fear, your grief, your anger. Let’s face it: you’re not exactly Mr anger-management. How are you gonna control the devil when you can’t control yourself?
‘I wage you a thousand’ that Dean will never learn of this conversation.
Sam’s plan is actually brilliant, except that it’s plain stupid. Ingenuity and madness are indeed two sides of the same coin. But – it might actually be the only way. This reason for Sam eventually saying yes seems logical.
I can understand him. For one part, he is desperate. Dean teamed up with a demon, leaving him behind (and on Sam’s planet this might bring back countless arguments about Dean’s mistrust in regard to Sam’s self-control, a bell that began to ring in season four).  

I don’t think the issues he barely dealt with in the first episode of this season, when he admitted to DemonBobby that he was the one who started all this have left his system, yet – I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt compelled to set it straight and end what he started, even if that meant laying down his life.
After all, this could just be the kind of sacrifice he, as a follower of the Winchester tradition, is willing to make. A part of Sam has been craving to die, ever since he lost Dean and couldn’t get him back. He embarked on kamikaze attacks before; it’s a modus operandi he’s familiar with – as it makes sense to him.
He might have even remembered the day he witnessed his father taking back the wheel in Devil’s Trap – and that was not a fifth class demon, but YellowEyes. To assume that he could be capable of doing it is not too far fetched.
Another fact troubles him with the truth IllusionJessica confronted him with in Free To Be You And Me: ‘I was dead the moment we said hello’. She was right. Brady hooked him up ‘with a pure, innocent piece of town and then I toasted her on the ceiling’. Jess had to eventually die, because Sam loved her. He had always known that fact, but realizing that it was all a part of a plan he was never meant to escape must have ripped open his guts. I can hardly imagine the pain that raged through his body and soul.

His anger reflects that, though. He is ready to kill Brady. Nice and slow, probably. He wants nothing more. And he will get his revenge in the end – in the Supernatural version of Fight Club. A scene that gives another facet of Sam, through the words of this bastard Brady:
Brady: Gonna make up for all the times that we yanked your chain? Yelloweyes, Ruby, me? Wasn’t all your fault, was it? No, no, no, no – you’re the one who trusted us. You’re the one who let us into your life, let us whisper in your ear over and over and over again. Ever wonder why that is, Sammy? Ever wonder why we were so in your blind spot? Maybe it’s because we’ve got the same stuff in our veins and deep down you know you’re just like us. Maybe you hate us so much because you hate what you see every time you look in the mirror – you ever think of that? Maybe the only difference between you and a demon is: your hell is right here.’
Sam, after killing him: Interesting theory.
The expression of Dean, looking on, could mean a lot. I think he might be starting to wonder how much truth lies in Brady’s words. Observing Sam’s face we see the horrific, cold mien of an experienced hunter, a trained assassin. Epitome of danger. Nothing is left of the innocence I loved so much in young Sam’s face. Life does that to us, sometimes. It takes away our purity with cruel events that leave us scarred for life, just as Sammy has been.
And there will be more of those events – Bobby will sell his soul, that is for sure. And he will do it for his boys. Every bone in my body is screaming: No!, but I think Bobby might welcome it. Each day he wants to die. Each day, as he told the brothers, he takes out that bullet and thinks about killing himself, but doesn’t – because he promised Dean. This might be a chance for him to escape this existence that he dreads. He ended up in a wheel chair for saving Dean’s life. Eventually, it is Bobby’s decision, and his alone. This will also lay heavily on the brothers’ shoulders, and on Sam’s.  
I believe we are heading to the clash of the Titans here – ‘Dean starring as Michael, Sam starring as Lucifer’. We won’t have to wait long anymore and speculate, the next two episodes will throw it at us with merciless vigour… Buckle up, get ready to feel like basket cases. I, for one, am sure I will have trouble finding some coherent thought after watching the following episode, and not to mention the inevitable cliffhanger of the season.
What do you expect? What do you dread? …this couch is open, cosy and generously big. Snuggle in and find relief…