The State Of The Union Isn’t Strong
A case involving two dueling brothers not only has echoes of the fantastically bleak apocalypse plot, where Sam and Dean were poised to be vessels Michael and Lucifer’s biblical smackdown, but the supernatural possession element smacks of the kill-happy “And Then There Were None” and “Sex and Violence,” where Sam and Dean gamely attempted beat the hotness out of each other, and destroyed a hotel room in the process. I’m not sure if Dean will gank Garth for imitating Bobby’s personality or if Sam will bludgeon the righteousness of his brother, but I can’t wait to find out.
Dean intercepts the spectre in the body of the deputy, and gets his ass handed to him. The fight gets disturbingly creepy when the man grabs Dean by the throat and sniffs him like he’s a bouquet of roses. “The spectre likes you,” he coos and shoves the cursed object—an old penny from a necklace taken from the Unknown Solder—into Dean’s hand, thrusting him under the spectre’s power.
Back at the hotel, a murderously calm Dean, ectoplasm dripping from his ear cocks his gun and seethes, “You should have looked for me when I was in Purgatory.”
Suddenly, Sam is on trial for every mistake he’s ever made. Dean, with Garth as a witness, runs through ‘Sammy’s greatest hits: drinking demon blood, being in cahoots with Ruby, not telling me you lost your soul, letting me think you were dead while you were doing all kinds of crazy.” I rarely miss a chance to praise Jensen Ackles’ acting, because there’s not much he can’t do, and he was excellent in this scene. Jared Padalecki has been on point during this entire episode as well, playing Sam as if Dean’s disapproval and his damanged demeanor is drawing out years of pain out of the deep, dark place he’d shoved it in after he worked to move on with his life after Dean's "death." When he lunges for his brother, it’s an explosion out of anger, but more of our fraternal preservation, because his primary goal was to neutralize, not injure. It’s a good move from Padalecki and the writers’ to show that Sam and Dean have been in this situation before, and Sam, while upset, isn’t falling victim to it again. Unfortunately, he does fall through a coffee table and curls up, hurt, weaponless on the floor as Dean advances.
I could take or leave DJ Quall’s Garth, but he provides a much-needed moment of comedy as reluctant mediator to years of familial unrest amped up by supernatural rage, especially when Sam mentions Benny. Ever the hunter, Dean goes in for the emotional kill before the physical one: “Benny’s been more of a brother to me this past year, than you’ve ever been. Cas let me down, you let me down. The only person that hasn’t let me down is Benny.”
Garth tries to convince Dean to fight the ghost possessing him, but he finally has to deck him, causing him to drop the evil penny, thus breaking the spell. This scene was so intense I was actually gritting my teeth through the entire showdown. And it’s not over.
After Garth, the man who killed the Tooth Fairy, shoves some advice down Dean’s throat (Did you get warm fuzzies when Dean returned Bobby's trucker hat?), Dean has to face Sam, who was manfully sulking in the bathroom. The episode features more flashbacks with Sam and Amelia. I keep hoping there’s more to this story, that maybe she was a hunter or she knows about the life—something to make it bigger and well, more “Supernatural,” but this arc seems to be about the small, intimate things that Sam has coveted for his entire life and finally got. These little moments both buoy and distract him while he’s on the hunt. Amelia lost her husband in the war, and she fled from the "looks of pity" until she met Sam and then she just “let herself go”—another recurring theme of his episode. Sam finally admits that “lost my brother a few months ago. It felt like my world had imploded and came raining down on me, so I ran, like you.” It’s poetic that their mutual losses have helped them find each other.
Sadly there isn’t enough spark between Padalecki and Liane Balaban to toast a marshmallow, but it’s overdue to see Sam open up about Dean and fight for what’s blossoming between him and Amelia.
Those memories and maybe Dean’s ass-kicking jumpstarted the defiant, strong-willed Sam I love, and he stopped letting Dean punish him. “Her name’s Amelia. She and I had a place together in Kermit, Texas. You and I both know you didn’t need a penny to say those things. Own up to your crap, Dean. I told you where I was coming from. You had secrets. You had Benny. You jumped on your high and mighty and you’ve been kicking me ever since you got back. But that’s over. So move on or I will.” Dean earnestly agrees, and it seems like the happiest ending “Supernatural” could ever muster. After eight seasons, I know better, so I just wait for it to all fall apart. Sam then decides that he “might be that hunter that runs into Benny that day and ices him.” He just laid down a gauntlet to kill Dean’s fanged boyfriend and ally and as much I like Benny, I cannot wait for him to make good on his threats. The only thing that's certain is that this river of tension flowing between Sam and Dean is only going to get wider and rougher and nastier in the coming months.
This episode was a rollercoaster of emotions that feels like a true turning point for a season that’s been disjointed and unfocused.
Grade: From A to F, “Head On A Pin” to “Long Distance Call,” this episode was a surprising A-.
Did you cheer when Sam finally told Dean off? In an election for the Commander-In-Chief of Hunters, who would you vote for, Bobby or Garth? Do you think Sam will actually kill Benny? Hit up the comments section!
Next week, Dean is haunted by an certain angel, and Kevin Tran is back!