Really quick before we get to it – just wanted to remind ya’ll that this ‘stream of consciousness’ type review isn’t intended to be a well-constructed analysis of the show and/or episode. It’s a streaming recap of events with personal insight, reactions and emotion woven throughout. I am thoroughly enjoying the thoughts and comments shared, but wanted to make sure you guys know what you’re getting into.
RANDOM THOUGHTS I HAD TO WRITE DOWN AND SHARE BEFORE WATCHING
Before I head in to watch tonight’s episode, I had to capture some lingering ideas you all triggered with your fantastic comments last week. The confliction I felt over the circumstances surrounding the end of the last episode worked itself out as I replied to your comments. But!
Some of you made me realize I had an additional concern that hadn’t quite burbled to the surface until you all articulated it: Dean’s thinking he’s a killer; that the ‘people don’t change’ lesson was really about him. And once you pointed that out, my heart shook a little because I realized that yes, this…this is the real worry. I read an interview in EW this week from Ryan Reynolds (go with me on this) on a new movie he’s in called, Fireflies in the Garden, and in it he said:
I portray a guy in pain. Generally, guys in pain should be avoided. They’ll ask for the keys to your heart. Then they’ll have a few cocktails, take it for a joyride, and wrap it around a telephone pole on a dark desert highway.
As soon as I read this, I thought, Dean…because that’s him, and that’s what I feel he’s done to me (and perhaps many of you as well). He’s in pain, and he’s spiraling. It’s not in an overt, obvious way (at least not up through 7.03); it’s subtle and the tells are in his actions, in his eyes, and maybe in some of the things he says. But it’s there.
They way I see it, Sam’s story – the hallucinations, the broken wall, once again dealing with a new ‘normal’ – is the more obvious focus of the season because it’s an extremely tough, physical, apparent issue that outwardly affects everyone; however, Dean’s story – slowly crumbling walls, losing himself inside of himself, desperately clinging to something he knows to be true when everything else he’s used as to ground himself is being stripped away – is the underlying story here.
And the cool part is both stories have to play out just as they are – both are of primary importance because they are cogs in the wheel of the overall story, the last cog being our patience to see how it’s resolved. There really isn’t one storyline for one character – they’re both interwoven. From what I’ve read (here and elsewhere), I know several of you may not agree with this theory and/or think that if this is the way The Powers That Be are trying to make it work, they’re doing a lousy job.
I don’t begrudge those feelings. They are viable and come with very sound reasoning. I’m just telling you how I see it. And it’s okay if you don’t agree. *smiles*
Okay, so with that, I am heading in to watch.
Yeah, I still think my theory *points up* is right. We’ll see how quickly Show shatters that, but for now, that’s still where I stand.
In my latest story, I had Cas tell Dean, “There’s no destiny. There’s only what you decide and how you live with that decision.” I modified something my grandfather used to tell me to get to that epiphany, but I was struck by how those words kept playing around in my head throughout this episode.
Dean doesn’t really...live with…his decisions. The tougher ones, that is. He makes them and survives them, and along the way, when he lets his guard down, they chew on him, digging into crevasses he mistakenly left unprotected. He moves through life – this crazy, messed up, bloody, unfair life of his – just trying to make it from one decision to the next and hope that along the way he doesn’t get the wrong people killed. It’s really the same thing any of us do – without the constant threat of death hanging over our heads, that is.
Someone pointed out last week that hunters are human, and they’re going to make mistakes. Not only that? No one is policing them. Nothing is holding them accountable but their own personal truths. And when you’ve lived such a messed up life as the Winchester’s, your truth can understandably be skewered. But I think it’s a bit more than just circumstances spinning Dean’s compass. The conversation by the Impala (because all heartfelt conversations between brothers must occur with beers, by car – right, Cam?) at the end tuned me into this line of thinking.
Sam’s life has been no less crazy, no less bloody, and yet (as he says) because of Hell, he’s atoned. He’s paid his dues. He doesn’t feel guilty anymore. Which…huh. I don’t know what I think about that yet.
Dean’s Hell only added to his weight and sense of guilt. And I think that drives home a key point about these two brothers – close enough they live in each other’s pockets, close enough to have died for each other, close enough to sometimes forget where one ends and the other begins. They are very different people.
They come at things from different perspectives, they see the same thing in different lights, they find their balance with different grounding, they justify with different truths. I am the oldest of five, and my mother used to marvel that each of her children came from the same parents and yet were so utterly different it was as if we had all been adopted. Family unites you just so far; the rest you create on your own.
This episode – like last week’s episode – gave me a sense of block-building. Like Dean’s order to his brother to make him Stone #1 and build on it, we’re seeing a careful construction of a story that needs several stepping stones to reach a zenith of realization. We didn’t further the fight to defeat (or even find) the Leviathans. We didn’t find out how the fact that the Leviathans are onto their credit card schemes will ultimately affect them. They’re still doing what they do – saving people (sorta), hunting things. Living out of the Impala and (some rather decked out – I mean, wow, wood floors!) hotel rooms. Bobby’s still finding their nick-of-time answers.
Nothing’s really changed. And yet…everything feels different.
You can’t solve a problem like a completely fractured psyche and hallucinations that tease reality by gripping a scar on your hand. Sam’s ‘feeling pretty good’ seems like a gigantic band aide to me. Or at least it should. There’s going to be more there.
You can’t take apart a hunter with carefully constructed walls, built up over decades to put up a front of a womanizing, hard-drinking, uncaring jerk hiding a broken man who can’t be alone and wants nothing more than to keep those he loves from ever feeling pain again, with one Trial By Egyptian God. This is just the start of the universe pulling the playing cards out of Dean’s house, and just the start of his foundation shaking. There’s going to be more there.
That said? I do kinda like that we’re going monster-by-monster, threat by threat. Traveling across the country, taking down the bad guys (or the supernatural guys…whether or not they’re truly “bad”). It really gives a sense of what the hell else can we do? I mean, when they find out something to do about the Leviathans, they’ll obviously do it. But until then, it’s not like they can truly lay low. They are who they are. And I kinda like getting a new story each time.
SO! Okay, the THEN was well, then. Let’s just skip to the NOW.
We’re in Dearborn, MI. A man is running for his life from a speeding car. He cuts down an alley, thinking he lost it, but, impossibly, it’s there. He manages to get into his apartment, chanting to himself, “You’re okay, you’re okay,” but then…frosty ghost breath. Not so much okay. The car, believe it or not, is in his apartment and smashes him to smithereens against his wall.
The Impala pulls up to the crime scene, boys getting out suited up. Sam hears unintelligible whispers, grabs his scarred hand and gets a grip. So, that’s our sign that Things Still Aren’t Right, but it’s obvious he’s managing it – as well as “it” can be managed, I suppose. I mean, there’s no indication of nightmares, drinking, pills, none of that stuff. Not that they’re showing us. He’s finding a way to get a grip and channel it – ignoring the hallucinations he says he can still see (that we don’t).
So, he’s either the most well adjusted person on the planet. Or this is completely temporary and we’re going to see some kind of Hallucifer explosion down the line. I’m betting on the latter. Because what fun is a well-adjusted Winchester?
Still, when Dean says that the situation is ‘wonky’ (ha! Total Joss Whedon flash-back), Sam shoots him a what, who, me? look until Dean clarifies that he’s talking about having a regular, non-Levi job feels odd. Sam chooses to take that moment to thank Dean for letting Amy go.
Guh, knife-in-gut…aaandd, twist. Dean nods at his brother like, yeah, of course, but the minute Sam turns away, Dean’s face falls and he looks away as if he’d like nothing more than to have a hole swallow him whole.
The head to the apartment, flash their FBI badges (no alias…drat) and the cop there welcomes them without question. I wonder if it’s really that easy to get access to a crime scene. I mean…I know some pretty crafty graphic designers. Put me in a black suit, get me some low-heeled pumps, I could be Agent Lita Ford. I’m just sayin’.
Cop: Welcome to Crazy Town, population 1 dead guy.
Heh. I liked that cop.
Dead guy was a Matthew Hammond and if they weren’t on the 10th floor, the cop (or maybe he was a coroner/M.E., now that I think about it) would guess that he was smushed by a car. Cop leaves and Sam pulls out the EMF reader, which proceeds to freak out. They poke around (all other law enforcement officials clear out, for whatever reason) and Sam says it’s definitely a ghost.
Dean: …with a license to kill? (ADORABLE grin)
HA! Dean’s grin was pure, see what I just did there little-boy-like.
Sam finds some red powder/dirt, musing out loud that maybe it was a Christine-like hit, but Dean’s sure it was spectral as even possessed cars can’t climb stairs. He finds an AA token (is it called a token?) and notes that Hammond had been sober 10 years.
Dean: Dead and sober. Double crappy.
*Gaelic’s worry meter spikes briefly*
Sam finds a bill on his desk showing they guy paid $50/month to some place called Jane’s. Says he’ll go check that out and Dean can look into the AA – to which Dean immediately balks.
Dean: Gave AA up for Lent.
Sam: We’re not Catholic.
Dean: Always with the details. AA gives me the jeebs.
(Aside – what the heck was up with Sam’s hair in this scene? It looks fine later, but it was distracting here.)
So, Sam takes AA and Dean Jane’s, but this is just one more level of Dean Is Not Okay that they’re building on – moreover, Sam is aware, but clearly has no idea how to intervene on the drinking thing. Because, so far, Dean’s outwardly handling himself fine around Sam. He’s a functional alcoholic. Not only that, Sam’s still pretty fresh off his totally losing connection to reality moment and probably doesn’t feel like he has much solid ground to stand on. And without a way to get to the root of the reason Dean’s drinking in the first place and repair or solve that issue, Sam’s without firepower greater than a disapproving look or sarcastic comment.
But that can’t last long.
Sam finds out at AA that Hammond was a haunted soul who didn’t share much, and Dean finds out that Jane’s is a flower shop and that Hammond paid 3 years in advance to make sure flowers were sent to Elizabeth Duren. Dean gets the address…and it turns out that the flowers are sent to Elizabeth’s grave. She was a 10 year old girl who was killed when her neighbor backed out of his driveway and didn’t see her bike…then drove off.
They find the gravestone, return to the hotel to find out the details, and ironically, Dean’s drinking a beer when he remarks that Hammond was probably drunk when it happened, to Sam replies with a loaded, “Yeah,” watching his brother drink. But, now that they know the story, Sam says they have to go dig up Elizabeth’s bones, put her spirit to rest.
Dean, clearly not up for the burning of a 10 year old girl’s bones, mumbles wearily, “Fun never stops.”
Elsewhere, some random guy is running hell-bent-for-leather from a dog. He gets to a diner, runs inside – and then we see that no one else sees the dog. He locks himself in the bathroom, calls 911, and to his horror, sees a dog is in the bathroom with him. Oops. He’s dead before he can tell the 911 operator where he is…and it’s not pretty.
Back at the wood-floor hotel room, the boys are stumbling inside, Dean looking completely beat. He offers Sam (who appears to be much more awake and chipper) the first shower, then sinks down onto the bed, working his way out of his jacket. Sam is reading the paper and calls Dean’s attention to a story about a man dying in a wild animal attack.
Dean (staring to lie back on the bed): Dangerous world out there.
Sam: It was in the restroom of a diner.
Dean (pulling himself fully upright again): Yeah, that doesn’t sound right.
He not only looks weary, he sounds weary. Kinda like how I sound after going to bed at 3am only to have my girl wake up with a nightmare at 3:30. Sam googles the Dog Man and finds out that he had a history of Michael Vic-style dog fighting.
Dean: Do dogs even have ghosts?
Sam doesn’t know, and they speculate on dogs getting revenge on the guy, but then Sam finds out that Dog Man worked at an animal shelter, past his community service sentence, and raised a lot of money for it.
Sam: People change.
I like that this is his rally cry. It’s the direct opposite of his brother’s claim and he must believe it – believe it to his bones – if he’s going to one day convince Dean of this. Because, really? Dean doesn’t really believe anyone anymore. Except maybe Bobby. He doesn’t trust anyone completely, even Sam. And I can’t tell if he’s starting to doubt even himself or not, but it’s the next logical step. So, Sam believes people can change and Dean doesn’t – it may come down to a cage match of belief systems.
Dean is stiff, sore, tired, and wants to fall face-first onto his bed. Sam, however, is…peppy! He’s all, suit up; let’s go check out the body.
Dean (whining): What?
Sam (curious): What?
Dean (covering): What? Nothing! Let’s do this thing.
It’s daylight, and Dean’s leaning against the Impala, waiting on Sam who is coming out of the coroner’s office practically…giddy…that he found red dirt under Dog Man’s finger nails and on his shoes. Some clearly-worded questions and some google fu and they discover that the red dirt comes from a 200 acre apple farm, which makes Dean all sorts of happy, as you can imagine.
They start to head out there, Dean whining about not liking apples and having to search 200 acres (I mean, the guy is toast…this is the last thing he wants to do) when an African American man with a full, gray beard comes running out of the pasture directly in front of the car. GAH! Dean slams on the breaks and the boys get out, approaching him cautiously. They guy is practically incoherent with fear, so they get him in the car and take him back to the hotel.
The old guy starts babbling about being put on trial and sentenced to death and the boys are trying to get to the bottom of it – Sam sitting closer to the old guy, handing him water, turning on the Eyes Of Sympathy that he uses so well. Dean’s further back, listening, his face closed off.
Apparently, the old guy held up a liquor store in 1981 and shot two people. He served his 30 year sentences, got paroled, then was put on trial in an old barn at the Apple Farm (when he hears this, Sam practically sprains his neck looking back at Dean) where he was sentenced to death. Sam presses him further…what else can he remember? Where was he before the Apple Farm? Turns out he was last at Neal’s Tavern – the same place Hammond went when he was about to fall off the AA wagon.
Old guy is practically crying, begging them to believe him. He really got to me. I wanted him to make it. He tells Sam there were symbols all over the barn and Sam asks him to draw them.
Dean, though, is not convinced. He pulls Sam aside and they head outside to talk. Dean says he’s having a hard time not rooting for the ghosts in this one.
Dean: When did our black and white case turn into mud?
Sam: You said yourself it’s not right to judge.
Dean: People judge all day long.
Sam: You shot people, more than two!
Dean: And when those ghosts come to kick my ass, they’ve got a compelling case.
He just wants one simple day on the job. He looks away and the set of his shoulders, his body language, the way his skin pulls tight against his face…it’s all showing a guy who is spent. Done. At his limit. He reminded me vividly of his younger self in Croatoan when he said he’s tired of this life, this weight on his shoulders. He looks like he just wants to quit.
And this is one of those weeks were I can’t blame him. Sometimes life just slams you from all sides and you have to find a reason – just one is all you need – to keep swinging. Remind yourself why you’re doing all of this again. Why you’re trying so hard. Dean doesn’t really have that reason, aside from Sam (and Bobby). But he could probably easily convince himself that he needs them more than they need him. So, basically there’s fear of going back to Hell and uncertainty of what might be waiting for him in Heaven (I mean, it’s not like he’s been given incentive in that department).
I also find it interesting that he sees the mistakes these people made in their lives, the mistakes that are coming after them now, and finds himself siding with the ghosts. It’s incredibly telling and goes to something brought up later – people want judgment. We need it because often times it’s the only path to absolution. When you can’t forgive yourself, you have to be forgiven. And Dean can’t forgive himself of so many things. So why should these guys (Hammond, Dog Man, Old Guy) get a free pass, right?
Sam says he’s going to go look for the barn. Dean says he’s going to check out the bar.
Sam: To work or drink?
Dean (with an open-armed shrug): Haven’t decided yet.
He rubs his face as he turns away and my heart panged a bit. Watching him slip slowly like this is harder than when he broken down in tears about Hell. It’s hard to see him cry, but harder to see him with a pain too deep for tears.
Sam, frustrated, goes back up to the hotel room to try to convince the old guy to come with him, but that dude ain’t budging. The people he killed, you see, are waiting for him out there. Sam wants him to help find the barn.
Old guy: It’s red. It stands out.
So, Sam puts him in a chair, surrounds it by salt, hands him a remote, and tells him to stay put.
Over at Neal’s Tavern, Dean bounces off of a guy on his way to the bar—who we later learn is our MotW—and sits down to order a double whiskey shot from the pretty blonde bartender named Mia. He flirts, telling her now he knows why everyone comes here, then says he’s got a few questions for whomever works the nightshift – says he’s a cop. She believes it, saying he looks like he’s seen some crap.
Dean downs his shot, orders another.
Mia: Love, life, or job? Two quick doubles, it’s something….
Dean tap dances. Not like, literally, but…you know what I mean.
Mia: Hey, I’m a captive shrink with unlimited alcohol.
She pours herself a shot and tells him she gets curious about other people’s problems…on occasion. Her phrasing brings his eyes up and compels him to use her as his confessor. I never really decided if I felt like Mia was just a pretty bartender who got people to open up, or if she was some kind of Osiris antennae. She seemed suspicious, but also…too obvious.
Dean: You ever do something behind someone’s back ‘cause you had to and then…
Mia finishes his sentence, saying he feels bad about it. She then absolves him by saying if he had to do it, why feel guilty, right? Doesn’t make sense.
All this guilt talk had me shaking my head at myself. Telling someone not to feel guilty is like telling a mother not to worry. It’s not something one can necessarily control. We all have our own barometers. I feel guilty if I don’t reply to an email right away, or if someone asks me to do something that I literally cannot do and I let them down. I feel guilty if I support something politically that my family does not. Guilty guilty guilty. It’s all about who you are to yourself and how you perceive others see you. It’s not a switch everyone can just…turn off.
Dean tells Mia that if they got into why he felt guilty there wouldn’t be enough room for all the worms from that can. He orders a 3rd (my head was swimming at the thought of 3 double shots) and Mia tells him to slow up.
Dean: The more I drink, the more I tip.
Mia: I’m off in an hour, so don’t pass out on me.
Dean switches to beer. Heh.
Out at the Apple Farm, Sam finds the barn and heads inside doing that flashlight, gun, cross-hand maneuver. He looks…really young, actually. Worried. He finds the red dirt, and just then, Bobby calls from his car. As per usual, he’s found out what they’re up against…somehow. I swear the man is part wizard. Or something.
The symbols the Old Guy wrote down were Egyptian and found in the Book Of The Dead (which, um, Bobby, I thought you weren’t supposed to read from that…didn’t you see The Mummy?). Turns out they’re up against Osiris, an Egyptian god who is judge, jury, and executioner. He can see directly into the human heart and weighs the guilt you feel (doesn’t matter if it’s justified, just if you feel it) against the weight of a feather. If the feather loses, you die.
Bobby tells them to get out of Dodge.
Bobby: This guy hones in on people that feel guilty. Who does that sound like to you?
So, I totally get the need to pace things out, explore the story, all of that. I’m all for it, actually. But I just can’t help but think that the only two people Dean has left in the world agree and recognize that Dean is suffering and in denial about it and are just…watching him. I know I basically gave Sam a free pass about this several paragraphs up, and I am not saying they should be doing “X” instead of what they are doing. I’m just…observing. And frowning. And that’s pretty much it. Right now.
Outside of Neal’s Tavern, Dean is waiting for Mia and giving himself a pep talk. Heh.
Dean: Nothing but a ground ball. Just gotta put your mitt down. You are Dean Winchester. This is what you do.
(Aside – my husband found that rather funny…. )
His phone rings, but as he goes to answer it, he walks off screen and we see in shadow as something grabs him by the back of his coat and jerks him off his feet.
Sam, still at the barn, is barking into his phone, “Dude, this is the 3rd message I’ve left. You better not be loaded. This is important.”
The phone rings back almost immediately, but his relief is cut short when Mia answers, saying she found the phone on the ground and had been waiting there for 10 minutes for Dean. Sam heads to where she is. Which is kind of a wasted trip…he could have just asked her if there was red dirt anywhere around and hung out, waiting, in the barn. But…eh, it worked better this way I guess.
Meanwhile, in the hotel room where the Old Guy is hanging out, the TV suddenly goes Poltergeist, the lights flicker, and in his fear of the weird, the Old Guy smears the salt ring. He stumbles out of the room and the two people he shot in the liquor store hold up are there and shoot him. I was actually a little sad about that. Maybe because he was older. Maybe because he was so afraid. I know, I know. He killed them, and his 30 years of prison didn’t assuage his guilt about that. Still. *sad*
So, Sam is back at the barn, heading in with a shotgun. Dean’s inside, surrounded by Egyptian statues, sitting, chained to a chair at a wooden table. In front of him is what looks like a gold throne with another chair next to it. He tries to loosen his chains.
Osiris: Quit squirming. They’re Houdini-proof.
Why, I wonder, do all bad guys talk like they learned English from American TV?
He wants to know if Dean wants to talk about what he’s there for.
Dean: I want to talk about your Bukowski schtick at the bar. You can’t jump a guy when he’s sober?
Heh. Bukowski. When Mickie Rourke was handsome.
Osiris is unruffled by Dean’s bravado. Says Dean gets a couple of drinks in him and the guilt pours out. He then calls Sam out from the shadows, congratulating him for finding them. Sam tells Dean they’re dealing with an Egyptian god. Osiris is basically like, good, 10 points for Griffindor. You can go now.
Sam says he should be on trial, and Osiris is like, no thanks, you’ve got nothing I want. So, Sam argues that Dean should have an attorney.
I thought it valiant that Sam said he should be put on trial – especially since he doesn’t feel guilty anymore. He still recognizes that there are things he’s done that others think he should feel guilty about. He just…doesn’t. And that’s actually rather interesting. Because we can’t control other’s perceptions. And I think that’s where a lot of my personal guilt comes from. How I think others would think about what I did in situation “X.” Hmmm. *ponders*
Osiris thinks having Sam defend Dean would be fun, so he plays along. Dean’s all…dude, you’re not a lawyer. Sam reminds him that he was pre-law at Stanford. Apparently the ‘pre’ part is what worries Dean.
Osiris says the list of witnesses could be endless, but Sam objects, saying that isn’t fair. So, Osiris says he’ll make it easy – 3 witnesses. Sam objects again on the ‘witnesses being called without prior notice’ grounds.
Dean: Good one.
Sam: Saw that on The Good Wife.
HA! Okay, that was pretty cute.
Osiris is like, I’m the judge and jury. Stop with the objecting, or I will kill you. *gulp* This situation reminded me of a book I read a few years back called Hart’s War written by John Katzenbach (later made into a movie staring one of my guilty pleasures, Colin Farrell, but that’s a whole different story). In the book, an American soldier is accused of murder in a Nazi camp. Another American soldier becomes his lawyer in a trial where the Nazi warden is the judge and jury. It’s a crazy no-way-to-win situation where you can’t help but hope-against-hope.
Osiris calls his first witness: Joanna Beth Harvelle. Ghost Jo appears, drawing a soft, shocked, “Jo?” from Dean. She’s pale, of course, but looks…good. Calm. Her smile looks almost…happy. Osiris tries to trap her into admitting something she’s clearly not willing to admit to. Says she and Dean worked together. We see a series of flashes as Dean remembers meeting her with the shotgun in the back and the wrong place, wrong time conversation.
She says that she admired him as a hunter, but as a guy, he was kind of a jerk. However, there isn’t any malice in her words. She has a bit of a rueful smile on her face. She says she trusted Dean and doesn’t like Osiris insinuating that Dean was a bad guy.
Osiris keeps playing on her answers, turning her words – and Dean’s memories – to say that the only reason Jo became a hunter was because of Dean. Therefore, she died because of Dean. Dean flashes to The Episode That Broke My Heart: Abandon All Hope. I swear I cried more at that episode than when Dean admitted to remembering Hell. He remembers their parting kiss, leaving Jo behind….
Dean protests, but Osiris basically…pulls his breath out, admonishing Sam to control his client, then gives Dean his breath back. Right, okay. Egyptian god. Lots of power. Got it.
Sam has to cross-examine her and as he approaches her chair he’s practically vibrating with nervous energy and probably a little bit of shock at seeing his friend again. He points out that her dad was a hunter, too, and Jo says she idolized her father.
Sam: So, why’d you start? To impress some loud mouth ass you just met? Or be like your dad?
Jo: Daddy issues. Definitely.
She tries to say something to Dean, but Osiris waves her away. He gives Sam and Dean a minute to “strategize,” and Sam is like, “Who is the next witness? He looked at you like you knew.”
Dean: I got no friggin’ clue!
Osiris calls Sam to the stand. Okay, interesting. Osiris starts in on how Sam’s life has not turned out like he expected. Before Dean came to get him he was going to be a real lawyer, he had Jess, he was happy. Sam flashes to those scenes with Jess from the pilot and Dean starts to look less irritated and more…devastated. His lips are parted, his eyes focused inward, as the enormity of what Osiris is laying out there truly begins to peel away his protective layers.
Sam protests that none of that was Dean’s fault, and Osiris drives home the point that everything that happened after that, all the deaths, the blood, the pain stemmed from that one moment. Dean is seeing it all – every death: John, Sam, Mary, Jess, Ronald, Jo…all the blood on his hands and he looks gutted. Like he can’t quite breathe right.
Osiris: Don’t you think your brother dragged you back because he’d rather damn you with him than be alone?
Dean’s not look at Sam –he’s not looking at anything, really—but Sam is looking at him, then says, “No. One way or another, I’d have been pulled back in.”
Osiris sits back in the wake of Sam’s certainty and is like, well, if it was just about convincing me…but this is solely about how Dean feels, way down deep.
Well, crap. They’re screwed.
Sam’s like, “So if Dean believes he’s innocent, then he is?”
Osiris: Yes. People want to be judged. They really do. When your heart’s heavy, real punishment is a mercy.
So, Sam calls Dean to the stand. Dean looks at Sam like WTH?! But the chains break and next thing you know, he’s in the witness chair. Sam is really into this, jazzed up on the need to win this trial, to get his brother out of this. He’s been pumped all episode, actually – throwing Dean’s weariness into light by mere contrast.
Sam: When you came and got me, did you know Jess would die?
Dean: ‘Course not!
Sam: Right! How could you? Are you psychic?
Dean’s like, pfft, I know, right?
Sam: That was a question.
Dean: Oh. No. Definitely not psychic.
Sam: Why would you feel guilty about not predicting the future?
Dean (no longer as enthusiastic about playing the game): Yeah…that doesn’t make any sense.
Sam: What about Jo? Did you kill her?
Dean (more hesitantly): Uh…no.
Sam: Isn’t it true you don’t feel guilty? You’re just sad that she’s dead?
Dean (again looking like he’s trying to breathe): Actually…maybe…yeah.
Osiris makes doubty noises.
Sam: Does any of this feel like it’s really on you?
Dean (searching Sam’s face for the right answer): Not…really?
Sam: Is your heart heavy with guilt? Or just plain heavy and none of this guy’s business?
Dean: Uh…what you said. The 2nd thing.
Osiris is entertained, but it doesn’t matter. He can see into Dean’s heart…so this entire charade was pointless. They were still trying to convince Osiris. It was Dean they needed to convince and an act performed for an Egyptian god was soooo not going to cut it. Osiris asks Dean if he wants him to call his last witness and Dean immediately flashes to Amy. It would destroy him if Sam found out about Amy that way. Destroy both of them. He couldn’t let that happen. No matter what. So he calls an end to the Ally McBealing and tells Osiris to drop the hammer.
Sam’s like, WTH, man, he’s giving us more time! But it doesn’t matter, and Dean knows it. And there’s a moment where it almost looks like he’s…relieved. To be free of either the guilt or this life, I’m not sure. But right up until he put the salt ring around himself later in the hotel room, I wasn’t sure if he was going to do a thing to try to save himself.
Osiris reaches a verdict, finds Dean guilty in his heart, sentences him to death, and tells him to get his affairs in order. They head back to the hotel and see the police there, wheeling out a body in a body bag. Heading up to the room, Sam’s crestfallen when he sees the broken salt ring. Dean, though, looks at the room with numb acceptance. Time passes as Sam is on the phone, Dean is on the laptop, Sam is on the phone again, Dean drinks….
Bobby calls and (of course) has a way to put Osiris out of commission for a couple of centuries. He’s in the car again – probably because he’s still driving over Hell’s Half Acre collecting his back-up copies of books. Dean’s sitting on the edge of the bed, elbows on his knees, head hanging down, a drink in his hand. Sam, though, is on his feet, as he’s been this whole time, pacing.
Apparently, they have to stab O with a rams horn.
Bobby: Make sure it’s sharp. He ain’t gonna let you stab him twice.
Sam googles “rams horn” and finds out that Jewish people blow them once a year (really? Huh) and figures he’ll find one at a synagogue. Dean thinks ripping off a temple is a new low, but then he’s not really fighting for his life quite has hard as his brother is in this moment. He gives over the Impala keys and says quietly, “That dick’s gonna sic Jo on me, Sam.”
Sam: You’re a hunter, Dean. You know how to deal with ghosts.
He turns away, but stops when Dean says, still quiet, “You suggesting I kill her again?”
Sam: You didn’t kill her, Dean. I’ll hurry.
Yeah, you probably should. He’s hanging on by a thread, here, Sam. And he’s not looking for a new rope.
Dean puts a circle of salt around himself then sighs, saying, “You can come out now.”
Jo appears at the back of the room.
Sam find a synagogue and there’s a ram’s horn just sitting on the desk of the office he breaks into. Of course. Just then, a rabbi opens the door, catching them both by complete surprise, and says, “I’m guessing you’re not here for bar mitzvah lessons.”
I’d love to know what Sam said to convince the rabbi to let him leave with the ram’s horn.
At Neal’s Tavern, O’s doing his Barfly routine on a new victim – a woman this time, talking to Mia the bartender (which is why I thought she was working for O).
In the hotel room Jo approaches Dean, saying she would never do this.
Dean: I know.
Jo: It’s his thing, I guess. Twisted eye-for-an-eye. You deserve better.
Dean: No, you did.
I have to say, I like that Jo was at peace. She died valiantly. And it would have been so unfair to her memory if she was twisted, rather than just being controlled by a twisted god.
Dean: He was right. You were a kid. You and Sam. Hunters are never kids. I never was. I didn’t stop to think about it.
His eyes are sad, his face drawn. There's a heaviness to the moment, a sense of chances lost, choices made, and -- on Dean's part, at least -- regret. I never thought they were well-matched. I always thought she was too young for him. Right up until she died. By that time, she'd lived a bit, seen somethings, and was more centered, had a better sense of self. If they hadn't killed her, the person Jo became right before her death might have been a decent match for Dean.
He’s searching her face, trying to find ways to say sorry that she’ll accept, but all she says to him is that it’s not on him. It wasn’t his fault.
Dean: I didn’t want to do it alone. Who does? The right thing would have been to send your ass home to your mom.
Jo: I’d have liked to see you try. (small, shared grin) He was right about one thing.
Dean (crossing his arms and for a brief moment, looking like his old, cocky self): What, your massive crush on me?
Jo (grinning): Shut up. (sobering) You carry all kinds of crap you don’t have to. Gets a lot clearer when you’re dead.
Dean: In that case, you should be able to see that I’m 90% crap. I get rid of that, what then?
Well, shoot. I think that’s probably true of any number of us. Perhaps with lesser percentages. But as genuine as we strive to be, there is an element of crap within each of us where we play the part to keep the peace, to keep up the pretense, to keep the questions from being asked….
Jo: You really want to die not knowing?
That right there told me that Jo saw through him. Saw that he wasn’t fighting back. She couldn’t help what Osiris was compelling her to do, but she was challenging him to cowboy up and fight for himself.
But then, she looks aside, says it’s time, and suddenly, she’s at the stove and turning on the gas sans pilot light. Dean flashes to the explosion that killed her and his eyes fill with tears, as if saying, yeah, this is fitting…this is as it should be.
Jo crosses back over to him, stopping just outside the salt line, and says she was a hunter, she knows the tricks. She freezes up the window enough that it breaks the glass, letting in the night wind which scatters the salt. She reaches into his pocket and pulls out his lighter, saying, “He’s making me do this.”
Man, that Osiris is a piece of work. He sentences you to death because of your guilt, but ends up adding guilt to the person who takes your life. Messed. Up.
Dean tells her, it’s okay. Absolving her. Accepting it. Not lifting a finger to save himself.
Outside of Neal’s Tavern, O is ready to pounce on his latest victim, but just as he does, Sam stabs him in the back with the rams horn, turning him all black and…ash-like (and permanently scarring the woman he was going to take, I’m sure).
In the room, Jo reaches up and touches Dean’s face tenderly, drops the lighter, and vanishes. Dean is left in the empty room (that’s slowly filling with gas) whispering a confused, “Jo?”
Sometime later, the boys have pulled over on a dirt/gravel road next to a lake and are having a beer. Because, as we said, this is where all heart-to-hearts must happen. Sam wants to know if Jo looked like she was in pain, but Dean says she was just regular Jo. Actually looked a bit happier.
Dean: I got a question. So where did that come from? Volunteering to defend me?
Sam: You were gonna kick me out.
Dean (with a soft grin): In another life, you might’ve made a pretty decent…scuzbag.
Sam laughs – full-on dimple laughs. I forgot how long it’s been since we’ve seen those dimples. It was…nice.
Sam: I’m 0 for 1, Dean.
Dean: Not your fault. You were pretty convincing.
Yes. He was, Dean. Because he was fighting for you. For your life. See how much it matters?? How much you matter?
Sam: Who was he talking about? That whole final witness thing?
Gaelic: *holds breath*
Dean (lying liar who lies): No idea! Could be about any dead person we know.
The truth is going to come out. And it’s going to be messy. But I just…I hope hope hope it’s not yet one more catalyst to push them apart. They’ve been down that road too many times. And one more time would probably destroy Dean, whether or not Sam is justified.
Dean wants to know why Osiris skipped Sam. And here’s where I think he gets the real punch in the gut. Sam says he doesn’t feel guilty anymore. Dean’s like, what’s your secret, dude? He’s light-hearted about it, but there’s this look in his eyes, this…why not me? hopelessness that just tugs at my heart.
Sam says it was Hell that did it. He did a lot that he felt bad about, paid a lot of dues, and now….
Dean’s face…it’s as if he wants to ask for a huge gift – one he knows no one can get him, but something about the moment is prompting him to think it’s possible if he were to just ask…only he can’t bring himself to do it.
Dean (with a tone like really? That’s actually possible?): And…that worked? You feel like your slate’s wiped?
Sam: No. Nothing’s wiped. Sometimes I see Lucifer when I’m brushing my teeth. I guess I just feel like my past is my past. I can move on.
Dean (speaking from personal experience): Easier said than done.
Sam: Not arguing that.
Dean: I don’t know whether to be jealous or weirded out.
Heck, I’d be jealous. A tour in Hell burned away Sam’s past guilt but just added one more weight in the yolk Dean carries. Not fair, but…kind of appropriate for who we’re dealing with. Sam’s hakkuna matta outlook would never fit on Dean. I don’t know that I believe Sam’s going to feel good for long, though. Like I said, a well-adjusted Winchester is not fun. Something’s going to break…and I would suspect it would have to do with Amy.
And Dean…the look on his face when Sam says he “feels good” isn’t just the usual Big Brother Disgruntlement of having to ride in a car with Sammy Sunshine…it’s having to do it when he feels so heavy still. So worn thin. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out or when it’s going to explode, but I feel it coming.
Until then, though, we still have MotW’s to discover and take out. And next week’s looks like it’s going to be a TRIP! Speaking of Joss…two guest stars will be SO FUN to see again.
HOWEVER – the Ramble for next week is going to be late. Like by four days. *ducks rotten fruit* I’m sorry! I am taking my Mo Chuisle to Phoenix to see a friend and my friend doesn’t watch SPN (I KNOW, right?) and even if I convince her to just this once I won’t have time to ramble. So, I’ll be posting that one on the 25th. I really hope you’ll come back. Your comments keep me going.
Thank you for reading!