Baby did a bad, bad thing….
Okay, I’m going to confess something to you first and get it out of the way or else my Catholic guilt may chew into me as I write. And I’m not even Catholic. Despite my endeavoring to enjoy the show for the sake of the show and keep my Pollyanna hat firmly in place, I reached a point about half of the way through this episode where I found myself becoming rather weary of the Sam’s Soul Storyline.
I don’t mean that in a gah, I’m so sick of Sam manner at all. Last week, I was so happy to see him. To see that Dean had his brother back. And I know that for the character it was necessary to carry through the ramifications of a year of soullessness and a return to the world with RoboSam-amnesia. I get it, writers, I do. But as I was watching, I just kinda felt like enough was enough already.
I know there are some who might say I felt that way because it is happening to Sam and not Dean. I don’t know. Possibly. I do really want Dean to have a critical storyline again. I want him to be pivotal. I want there to be something specifically for him in the story of the brothers and their journey.
But I kinda think I’d be weary of it no matter which character it was happening to because it’s not moving fast enough. We spent, what, four episodes wondering wtf was up with Sam, then another seven trying to wrap our minds around a soulless version of the guy we loved, and then he gets his soul back and now it’s the ramifications of it and…well, anyway, about mid-way through this episode I was just ready to see more of the rest of the storylines they’d laid down the breadcrumbs for.
Like the Civil War in Heaven. Or angels buying and selling human souls. Or Dean as the intrepid detective. And yes, part of me is simply yearning for Dean to play more of a role than He Who Fights For Sam. I love that part of his personality, but there’s so much more there that can be mined that I am looking for the writers to end this no-soul/re-soul torment and move on to focus the attention elsewhere for a bit.
That said, the last two minutes of the episode took that weariness and crumpled it up in a little paper ball of nothingness then set it on fire. Seriously. That just…I did that hot/cold thing you do when you come thisclose to rear-ending another car at a stoplight, you know what I mean? I’ll go there with further thoughts in a bit.
However, before I do that, let me just say that if The Powers That Be wanted us to be all omfgwth with the way the left Sam, they shouldn’t have shown us the previews for next week. ‘Cause…obviously, there’s some shellacking of the wall that apparently occurs. I’m just sayin’.
Okay, I feel better getting that out of the way. I needed to clear the air between us before carrying you down this ramblin’ road with me. So, if you haven’t crossed me off your friend’s list with the opening of this particular recap, let’s begin.
The THEN was a recap of Death’s warning about not scratching the wall, which in retrospect pretty much told us the end of the episode right there. We go to NOW and I saw Bristol, Rhode Island, but must have glanced away at the wrong moment because for the first several minutes I was totally confused by the fact that RoboSam was back. When they got to the title card and the words “Present Day” came on the screen, I had to skip back (yay for DVRs!) to see that it said “One Year Ago.”
I tell ya, people, not being spoiled does have some disadvantages. *grins*
Anyway, one year ago in Bristol, Sam and Gramps are in a building. Sam is shooting…something. His face is relatively impassive. Almost cold. Very much RoboSam. Gramps is looking upset, sickened, almost scared. They leave the building—which looks like it could have been a really big barn—and it’s raining.
Gramps: You okay?
Gramps: How’s the arm?
Sam: It’ll hold until we get out of town.
Gramps: Just don’t bleed out, all right?
Sam: That’s the plan.
Holy cow—all of the reasons I so very much did not like having to deal with RoboSam came flooding back in the tight, emotionless exchange of information. Gramps and Sam jump into the A-Team Van and drive off, only to be tailed by a cop. Gramps pulls over, they get out and the cop calls them Agents Rourke and Wyman. I wonder if that was in reference to the bass guitarists for The Rolling Stones. Rourke being the “newbie” who replaced Wyman. I could be way off, but I thought it was interesting.
The cop says he can’t get the Sheriff on the phone and wants to know if that’s blood on Sam’s coat. Gramps is all, let’s not get riled, but the cop is having none of it. He wants them to get in his car; they’re under arrest. RoboSam says in his best Horatio Cane voice, “You’re going to arrest two Federal Agents? HA! Have a good night.”
The cop simply puts his hand on the butt of his gun and RoboSam goes berserk. He totally beats the cop down, slamming his fist into him again and again until the man is a puddle on the pavement. RoboSam stands, out of breath and Gramps is like, “Think there are calmer ways we could’ve done all that?”
Sam: Do we care? Let’s go.
They drive away leaving the cop unconscious in the middle of the road.
Baby did a bad, bad thing….
So, we’re back to present day and OUR Sammy, thank goodness. Seriously, the difference between the two versions of Sam is distinct and wonderful. It's more than just the Sam-On-Demon-Blood version that almost killed his brother at the end of Season 4. It's even different than Lucifer!Sam. The inconsistencies in how Sam reacted or behaved that I noticed along the way in the first half of the season were forgotten when comparing that Sam to our Sam. I am very much ready to put RoboSam behind us, though, and stick with our Sam.
Dean walks into a motel room with food (of course) and Sam’s watching TV. Just…catching up on the last year.
Sam: So, Mel Gibson really took a turn this past year, huh?
HA! lovinjackson , I totally thought of you in this instant.
Dean: Or…he’s possessed.
I vote for that. I miss Riggs. Plus, the irony of the comparison of relatively normal family man turning into raving-lunatic-abusive-boyfriend being something that Sam noticed was not lost on me.
Dean tells Sam that he checked in with Bobby, who has no word on The Mother of All (of course…) and that it’s been quiet. And when has quiet ever “just” been quiet, right? Sam’s phone rings and he looks at the screen. It’s coordinates, but Sam doesn’t know who it’s from. They do that thing they do where they figure out where the coordinates lead and find out that it’s Bristol, RI, where three women have mysteriously disappeared.
So, we quickly discover that Sam knows he hunted with the Campbells and his grandfather, muses about who knows how many hunters he encountered while doing so and thinks this could be from one of them looking for help—he thinks they should go there. Dean is hesitant.
Dean: We just drop everything?
Sam: Two minutes ago you weren’t doing anything.
Dean: You get mysterious coordinates from a mysterious Mr. X leading to a mysterious town and that doesn’t wave all kinds of red flags for you?
His voice is the equivalent of what my baby girl used to do when I wanted her to go somewhere and she didn't; she would just drop all her body weight making her nearly impossible to pick up.
Sam points out that they can’t just ignore the missing girls.
Dean: Okay, but if things get squirrely, we jump out.
At least I think he said squirrely. His voice had a definite twang to it for a minute there.
So, they go to Bristol and on the way in pass a billboard that gives Sam his first flashback. The memories are black and white, mixed up, and make no sense, but they totally rock Sam. Dean picks up on it right away, shooting Sam nervous glances and asking what was up. Sam says nothing, but Dean’s face is set and worried.
They stop at a restaurant that I think was called the Buccaneer. It was very nautical in theme, I know that much. Dean is looking at the Missing Persons posters and pulls out a dark-haired girl named Nicole Handler. He says she has a wild side—it’s all in the eyes. He has a part adorable, part lecherous grin as he says this and Sam grins back indulgently. It’s a nice, albeit very brief, brother moment.
However, Sam points out that the girls have nothing in common. Dean tells him to figure out the connection while he visits the ‘Poop Deck.’ And yes, they actually went there. I think a 14-year-old boy may have decorated the restaurant. Seriously.
While he’s gone, a pretty, dark-haired, older woman approaches Sam is calls him Agent Rourke, saying it’s good to see him.
“You remember my husband, Don, right?”
Sam is tooootally scrambling and covering, stuttering over his words, not finding ground. The woman asks him if he’s back because "it’s started again" and Sam kinda sinks with her words, his face falling with a look of dread. He covers as best he can telling her to call him if she hears anything.
Meanwhile, Dean exits the bathroom and sees an EAT 72 OZ SURF & TURF AND GET IT FREE sign. He smirks…which, then, so do I. That is so right up his alley. There are pictures on the wall of all the people who did it (ugghh…72 oz???) and he suddenly peers closer, obviously recognizing someone.
Back at the table, the woman is asking Sam where Agent Wyman is when Dean comes up and says he’s in sex addicts rehab and that they really have to be going. The woman says it was nice chatting with Sam and touches his shoulder suggestively as she leaves, shooting him a look over her shoulder.
With her touch, Sam has a flashback to full-on hot bathroom sex with the woman and her whispering that he should ‘cuff her.’
Dean: Dude, she just cougar-eyed you.
Sam looks slightly ill.
Sam: I think Samuel and I worked a case in this town.
Dean’s all ya think and shows him a Polaroid with Sam and Gramps in the background. Back at the abandon house they found to stay in, Dean is ready to high-tail it out of there. Sam is on the Strongest WiFi Hotspot In The World and is surfing the Internet. He says that a year ago, five guys went missing and they never found the bodies. So, he reasons, he and Gramps either didn’t stop it, or they just thought they did.
Dean’s like, why the gender-bender, though? Why change up the M.O.? He doesn’t like it and wants to call Bobby to deal with it. Sam wants them to deal with it. Dean argues and I really felt for him in his repetitive, consistent argument. I felt it more strongly later on, but all he can do is try his best to protect what he’s done and Sam is just not cooperating.
Understandably, Sam wants to try to make up for the bad things he did when he was RoboSam. It’s part of who he is, part of the soul that we love. He would never have gone there or done these things with a soul and knowing that he did without one is…well, I can imagine it’s like finding out you have a split personality and one of you is a serial killer and one of you is a priest. The priest will constantly work to atone for a sin he never even committed…even though…he kinda did. It’s an effed up way to live and Sam has no choice.
He has no choice because Dean had no choice. He had to save Sam or kill him, right? Except killing him wouldn’t just be ending Sam's life on Earth and his connection to Dean, it would be damning the real Sam to eternity in Hell. How could Dean, whom the show has established (over and over and over and then one more time) has really one purpose in life—protect Sam, take care of Sam—possibly let that happen?
So Dean is trying to do what is seemingly impossible—get Sam to listen to him. Sam isn’t rebelling to be problematic; he’s not purposely trying to break down the wall. But the thing I wish they’d managed to wedge in there somehow is that the reason Sam should have trusted Dean on this isn’t simply because Dean is his big brother and only wants the best for him and would (and has) die to protect him.
It’s because Dean has been there.
Dean doesn’t want him to remember Hell because he does. He does and he lives with it—somehow—and he knows how horrendous it is and how the ugly weight of it makes you want to scoop out your insides and light them on fire. And Dean knows that the warning that Sam could be comatose or a blubbery shell of a human is very real. Dean barely survived 40 Hell-years. And he came back beaten and broken and it took an Apocalypse (and a year in the arms of a woman who accepted him) for Dean to even find the strength to want to get up in the morning.
Sam was there longer. And with memories like that…even if he didn’t become a vegetable, Dean has no idea how to help his brother with this. Because he had no idea how to help himself. And no one else helped him. He just…survived. He’s truly, genuinely scared and for serious good reason.
Okay, sorry. ANYWAY. Dean’s trying to convince Sam to leave by reminding him of Dad’s rule about never using the same crapper twice. Meaning, of course, that hunters don’t hit the same town twice because they generally leave a mess behind.
Sam’s like, “This creature is walking around because of me. Dad also said you finish what you start.”
Total aside? I dug that they were both quoting their dad to each other.
Dean is exasperated. Sam says he gets it and Dean’s all, “Do you?”
Sam: You’re afraid I’ll stroll down memory lane, kick the wall down, Hell comes through, and I’m a drooling mess on the floor.
Dean: It’s not a joke.
No sh*t, Sam. Dean’s face is closed off in that moment but his eyes are screaming at his brother. Sam argues that what’s happening now is happening because he screwed up and he has to fix it—he points out that Dean would do the same thing.
About 25 different emotions cross Dean's face before he manages to rein himself in and say calmly, “All right.”
The first time Dean gave in to Sam I was wary. The second time, I was filled with dread.
So, Dean gets suited up and heads to Nicole Handler’s apartment to talk to her roommate. He asks probing questions, all rather vague, but then sees an FBI business card in a bowl of other business cards on the kitchen table. It happens to be for an Agent Rourke. He finds out that the Agent came by several times to talk to Nicole. And the nature of their conversations were…loud. And athletic.
Dean’s expression is very much a silent sonofabitch.
Okay, so, RoboSam got around.
Another aside—I could be wrong, but I think all the women that RoboSam slept with were brunettes, weren’t they? Even the hooker. To me, they all looked somewhat alike. And…they also all looked a little like Ruby2. Just a casual observation that I’m sure means nothing.
Meanwhile, suited-up Sam is heading into the police station when he’s arrested by the cop RoboSam had beat to a pulp a year ago. The cop throws him behind bars and demands to know where the bodies are—that families want to bury their loved ones. Sam’s all, I don’t know. The cop is all, whatever—you leave town soaked in blood and bash my brains in to do it and you expect me to believe that?
Sam says he doesn’t remember anything. The cop is like, sell that one to the judge.
Sam = freaked out. He sits on the bed in the jail and time passes. It’s night. And I couldn’t figure out where the hell Dean was, to be honest. Anyway, another dark-haired woman walks in and demands to know what happened to her husband—Roy Dobbs, the sheriff. Sam’s like, I don’t know.
The woman calls him “Sam” and says she knows what he does. With that he flashes to a moment where the woman is sitting next to an African American man in a sheriff’s uniform in a kitchen with Sam and Gramps. They are coming clean about the existence of monsters and the woman says that it’s impossible. RoboSam says—very coldly—that he wants to know what she has to do with any of this.
The sheriff says she’s his wife and whatever they say to him, they say to her.
Back with our Sam, he’s realizing who she is and she tells him that her husband vanished and then Sam vanished, so what was she supposed to think? Sam tells her something happened to him and he doesn’t remember anything.
Woman: What is this, Days of Our Lives?
Sam says he doesn’t know what happened, but if she knows him, then she knows he can find out. She introduces herself as Brenna Dobbs. (Brenna. Hee.) She trusts him (for some reason) and lets him out, telling him he’ll have to tie her up to make it look like a jailbreak.
Elsewhere, the Cougar Lady is drinking boxed wine like it’s going out of style, runs out, heads down to the basement to get more (where, of course, the light is out). She makes her way down the shadowed basement stairs and a hand shoots out, trips her, sending her tumbling head-first down the stairs. She rolls over, a shadow looms, and she screams. COMMERCIAL!
Sam is back at the abandoned house listening to a police scanner (which I guess he stole when he broke out of jail?) and looking at notes. He hears a noise outside, pulls is gun, hides behind the door. Dean comes in and Sam points his gun before he realizes it’s his brother.
Dean: How’s it feel to be a fugitive again? Hate to say I told you so.
Sam: You love to say I told you so.
Dean tells Sam that he and Nicole knew each other. In the biblical sense. They hear about another missing person on the scanner and Dean says he’ll go and tells Sam twice to stay put. Of course, the minute he hears the Impala roar off, Sam exits, stage left. Dean is at Cougar Lady’s house talking to her hubs and figures out that this whole hunt--the multiple text messages, the missing girls that all slept with RoboSam at one time or another, all of it--has been a trap for Sam. He calls his brother but gets voicemail. Grrr. Argh.
Meanwhile, Brenna is walking into her house with groceries and Sam scares the bejeezus out of her. She demands to know what happened to Cougar Lady and Sam is all, Cougar Lady is missing? Brenna is staring at him like he’s evil…and yet she allows him to stay in the house and agrees to help him with files from the case a year ago. I honestly don’t get why she trusted him so much. I think they could have done a little better job selling us on that point.
Anyway, not important. While she’s upstairs getting the files Sam asked for, Sam has another flashback of he and Gramps sitting in the Dobbs’ living room talking about the life of a hunter. Gramps has had enough beers to wax sentimental and says that when Mary came along, the constant travel became impossible, but Mary was worth it. He goes to the garage to get more beer and Brenna says that it’s nice Sam has his Grandpa.
Sam says with that cold-eye Robo glare that he and Gramps have more of a business relationship and that family only slows you down. And ouch.
Back in the now, Brenna returns and catches Sam mid-memory, having to call his name a couple of times to get him to snap out of it. They start to look into the box of evidence and Sam flashes to a creepy-looking woman he’s fighting, and then again to he and Gramps figuring out that some evidence was web-like material from something called an Arachni (I think).
Basically, I got the impression it was a humanoid version of Shelob, spinning its web around its prey to immobilize, incapacitate, and paralyze so that it could feed (or in this case, mate) later.
Brenna tells Sam that Roy was a good man. “I’ve made peace that he’s dead. I just want to know what happened.”
Sam answers rather helplessly, “I’m sure he died a hero.”
He asks to borrow the evidence and leaves the house, pausing on the porch to check his voice mail. He hears Dean’s message and sees off to the side of the porch a big glob of cobwebs. He sets the box down and goes to investigate, peering at the web with trepidation. A hand touches his shoulder and he whirls around pulling his gun. It’s Dean.
Sam: I almost shot you! Again! What the hell!
Dean figured he’d come and talk to Brenna and is pissed because he told Sam to stay home. He grabs the box of evidence and they leave. Back at the abandoned house (and once more dressed in flannel…flannel=love) Dean is pacing.
Dean: So, we have a monster with opposable thumbs, unlimited text messaging and wants to kill you specifically. Does that about cover it?
Sam tells him that it’s an Arachni (or whatever) and that he remembered the hunt. Or some of it. This chills Dean. His voice and face are filled with Dread. Sam tells him that it’s nothing about Hell and Dean’s like, “Not yet, anyway.”
Sam: What can I do—stuff is just starting to come back. Maybe it’s natural.
Dean’s like, We’re leaving. His instincts are dead-on and he knows their needle is in the red right now with this case. He knows this is bad—but what was he supposed to do? Knock Sam out and drag him away? Sam insists on staying even though Dean argues that they’re not the only hunters on the planet—that even Bobby or Rufus could do this. Sam continues to argue that it has to be them because he can almost remember who did it.
Dean: Every time you scratch that wall you’re playing Russian Roulette.
Sam: I get your worry, but I think I did some really bad stuff here and I have to set things right. I’ve got a soul now and it won’t let me just walk away.
Guh. Always with the impossible situations. Part of me thinks that Dean acquiesced because he knew darn well had he been sitting in Sam’s place he would have done the same thing. But part of me wanted him to knock Sam out and drag him out of there. *laughs*
Dean, listening to Sam, sits opposite him, pressing his hands together and dropping his head. He can’t find a stronger argument than the ones he’s already handed his brother and he’s losing the fight. And he’s scared.
Sam: I’m staying here. I need you to back me up.
As if Dean could or would do anything else. The only reason he wanted to leave was to protect Sam. They’ve firmly established that Dean doesn’t matter to Dean—hasn’t since he found out that Sam wasn’t in Hell. There’s very little outside of Sam that does matter to Dean. Bobby. Lisa and Ben. The Impala. That’s about it.
Dean lifts his head and those same 25 emotions cross his face before he says, “Let’s Memento this thing.”
*ahem* Writers? Pick a new movie reference next time, okay? Same one in back-to-back episodes is poor form.
So, the boys build a Wall of Weird with maps, missing persons files, strings connecting all the different salient points, and Dean watches Sam as Sam stares at everything, seeing him remember. We get a rather lengthy flashback of what really happened—and it’s not pretty. In fact it’s so not pretty, that I’m just going to sum it up for you.
A year ago, Sam and Gramps figured out what the baddie was and that it was going after men in their mid-30’s. Sam was too young, Gramps too old, so Sam suggests they use Roy as bait, only they don’t tell Roy that's what they're doing. Gramps is totally not cool with it—it’s not how he’s used to working. RoboSam is basically, welcome to the future.
So, they call Roy, watch as he comes to the place they tell him, watch as the SpiderWoman attacks him, and completely miss the opportunity to catch and kill her, allowing her to drag Roy off. Gramps is panicked, but Sam is like, it’s cool, I tagged Roy’s GPS as a Plan B.
Gramps: You’re about as cold as they come.
So, y’know, if Gramps realized this a year ago…I gotta wonder why he didn’t seek out Dean on his own. He was obviously a little scared of his youngest grandson…did he not wonder what Dean was like? Why he wasn’t hunting? Did he simply accept whatever RoboSam told him? Seriously, made me wonder.
The other thing it had me thinking is that Gramps really never met Sam. Not the real Sam. So, because he chose poorly and decided to work with a demon, he missed out on knowing two amazing men and is now on Dean's Hit List. That just basically sucks, as far as family goes.
Anyway, still in the flashback, Sam and Gramps head to that barn-like place from the beginning of the episode and find all of the missing men wrapped in webs. Roy is one of them and Sam pulls the web from his face, asking him where she is. The SpiderWoman attacks Sam—that’s when he cuts his arm—and then attacks Gramps. Sam cuts her head off. Done and done. Gramps is reassuring Roy that they’ll get help, but Sam coldly says not to bother—they’re all done for. He points his gun at Roy. Roy’s begging him not to do it, but Sam’s like, you’re a hero. BAM!
He systematically shoots the rest, then says that they can’t leave the bodies and tells Gramps to get the gasoline. Back once more in the now, our Sam is looking at Dean, horrified, and says he knows what happened. Dean looks significantly worried, but it’s unclear as to if he’s worried about what Sam’s going to tell him or the fact that he’s remembered so much.
Back at Brenna’s, she’s sleeping on the couch and hears a noise, startling her awake. She gets up and sees a totally nightmarish version of Roy in her livingroom. He’s all…spider-fied. Gah.
Sam calls Brenna to check in and she asks him to come by—Sam can tell she’s in “deep trouble.” So the brothers head to Brenna’s. Sam pulls out his ginormous knife and tells Dean to go around back, but Dean notices that the lights are on in the shed. They head there, cautiously making their way inside. Brenna is across the room, cowering and crying. She asks Sam if it’s true, what he did to Roy.
Out of nowhere, Roy shows up, throws Dean across the room, then does the same to Sam, pouncing on him and demanding he answer the question. Next thing we know, the boys are wrapped to the neck in that heavy-duty web stuff and Roy’s doing the Bad Guy Monologue. Dean is quiet as Roy and Sam spar with words, spying a shard of glass and working to get it in his grasp.
Roy tells Sam that the SpiderWoman was there to mate and by the time Sam shot him, he wasn’t human so being shot in the head and burned didn’t hurt (or apparently kill him). He said he was grabbing women Sam had screwed and turning them into monsters to get back at Sam. So by killing one monster (the SpiderWoman, I guess) Sam ended up making a lot more.
This may seem callous, but…Sam was right. This was all happening because of his mistake—only the mistake was that he should have beheaded all of the victims. Because they were evidently already monsters. So…I kinda call writer fail in a way there because we were supposed to be omg he killed them, but while cold and seemingly merciless, it was right hunter-wise. Roy himself pointed out that they were already monsters. Sam just didn’t get the job done, unfortunately.
While Roy’s blathering, Dean cuts himself free, launches at Roy. Roy dodges, slams Dean against a wall and proceeds to try to choke him to death. Brenna calls out to stop him, then grabs the ginormous knife and cuts Sam free. Sam jumps up and very quickly beheads Roy, saving Dean. Done and done. Again.
The fight is over rather fast, making me wonder how much muscle memory our Sam has from RoboSam. I mean, there was zero hesitation and a whole lotta strength. *ponders*
Sam walks Brenna to her door and says he’s so sorry, but she just closes the door on him without a word. Sam looks gutted. Don’t think sorry is going to cut it this time, Sammy. *frowns*
Back at the abandoned house the boys are packing up. Dean asks Sam if he’s okay, and Sam says Dean was right, they shouldn’t have come back there. Sure, now he tells him.
Dean: Well, you did kill SpiderMan.
Sam: So you’re saying what I did here was a good thing?
Dean (looking plaintive, tired, and particularly appealing): Sammy, you gotta understand that all that crap last year…none of it was you.
Oh, Dean. *wants to hug him* It wasn’t your Sam. But it was still Sam. And my heart breaks for you trying to keep them separate.
Sam: Let’s be crystal clear. It was me.
Dean sighs and gives up for now. He goes to sit on the bed/couch/thing in the adjoining room and asks Sam if he can get him anything.
Sam: What are you, my waitress?
Dean: I’m just trying to make you feel better. Don’t be a bitch.
Heh. I love it when they slip into Brother Mode.
Sam: I’m fine.
Dean: Yeah, you look fine. (pause) Listen, everything’s going to be okay.
Sam: All I’m saying is if I did this here, then who knows how many other—
And just like that, with no warning, no indication, no grabbing head in pain or waking up from nightmares or slow disintegration Sam collapses and is convulsing, staring into nothing as Dean rushes over, calling out in a total panic, “Sammy! Sammy talk to me!”
It was that utter fear in Dean's voice that sent me into that hot/cold reaction of denial. The no no no no back-beat of sound around his words. He was helpless to stop what has happening, and his worst fear was being realized. Everything he'd gone through with RoboSam and everything he'd risked--Death itself--to get Sam's soul back was crashing down around him. My heart hurt in that moment.
We end with a tunnel effect into Sam’s eye and we see him in flames—like literally, skin burning flames--and screaming in pain.
It’s very much like the scene at the end of NRftW after Dean has been torn to shreds by Hellhounds and we tunnel in to see him skewered with meat hooks, bleeding, and screaming for Sam.
First thought was dammit, they went there. As a Deangirl, my instinctive reaction was a protective one. Dean's sacrifice for his brother and subsequent Tour in Hell set him apart as having his own niche in this universe and balanced (for me) Sam's Death Visions and Chosen One storylines of the past two seasons. And I knew the moment Sam fell into the Cage to trap Lucifer we would probably have this inevitable comparison of the Tours in Hell and Dean would no longer be unique, but I'd kinda hoped we wouldn't get much about Sam's time there because we didn't get much about Dean's. And, to be fair, we really haven't gotten anything, yet, except insinuation and inference. But those insinuations and inferences have been pretty significant--since we now have angels, demons, and Dean's own experiences to build images from.
Dean's PTSD storyline was sidelined, but it was still there in shadow through his nightmares and drinking and reactions and Alistair in Seasons 4 and 5 and even in conversation in this Season. And if that's all they can give us for the sake of carrying on with the story, I will accept that. Sam hasn't been allowed PTSD yet because he wasn't really Sam at first and then didn't remember. So...I calmed myself from my first reaction because maybe it will still be okay. Maybe they will heal Sam and the brothers can commiserate as traumatized Veterans of a war that no other human has fought and survived. Maybe this will unite them and build a new respect for each other--Sam for how Dean has survived all this time with no help just to save him, and Dean for how Sam is a man who went to Hell and back to save the world.
Hey, I always have hope.
My second thought, though, was that Death wasn’t a very good architect. I mean, seriously? One encounter with a former hunt and the wall comes tumbling down? If it was that fragile I think it was meant to fall. Regardless of the warnings and the fear Death and Cas struck into Dean, I think there may be a reason it fell so quickly and with so little resistance.
There was no way, unless they moved out to the coast and sipped mojitos for the rest of their lives, that Sam would not be reminded of events from the past year. No way. Their lives dictated he would clash with his “bad” self at some point. So, that thought coupled with the fact that the previews for next week show Sam as a hale and hearty our Sammy once more, I suspect that this wall was meant to be temporary and that there’s a reason behind that.
Lastly, and again I apologize to those not of the Dean persuasion, I hope we are able to come to a swift and satisfying resolution at the beginning of next week’s episode as to how they ‘heal’ (completely or temporarily) Sam from this Hell-coma. Because as much as I love the guy and as much as I adore Dean’s devotion to his brother, I really want Dean to have something more. More than just figuring out what’s wrong with Sam, fixing Sam, protecting Sam.
I’ll stop because it’s a pointless path to go down. It’s not as if I’m angry or incensed or will stop watching or anything that drastic. Any time I get to watch Dean is good for me. And no amount of ranting will change what is already set in motion. The story has been told, has been or is being filmed, and I am simply here to watch and react.
And while I know that there are several Dean fans who will be more than upset about the course of this episode, I can see where it was appropriate for Sam’s journey. I’m not doing backflips or anything, and I’m ready for us to put this to bed and move on to the plethora of other plotlines they’ve triggered, but I think if they hadn’t gone here, if they hadn't given Sam this flashback to how dark the world had been without his soul in it, if they hadn't broken down this wall, even Dean fans would’ve felt shorted because it would have been short-sighted writing of a character.
But, now that we’ve broken down this wall, let’s do what we need to heal Sam and move forward. There are two heroes in this story and both made sacrifices and both have been to Hell and back and both have lost and both have learned and both are hunters and individuals with worthy stories. And I think the writers are capable of traversing the next nine episodes with a shared spotlight.
Thanks for reading. Hope you’ll hang in there with me for the ride through the rest of the season.