The emotional arc of our show this season is either really, really well-planned and written or we are gluttons for punishment. I’m going to put my money on the first one (even though the second is basically true as well).
I have a quick confession to make as I get into this. I try really hard to keep an open mind and see the story from multiple angels—and I was doing a really good job, I think, throughout this whole episode sympathizing with Sam…right up until the last scene. I felt my jaw get tight and my own feelings of personal betrayal seemed to kick in because ERG. So, this ramble is going to help me work on my attitude about Sam; I hope you all forgive me that as we go forward.
ALSO! I feel like I’m apologizing to you a lot this season about replying to comments. Every one of them is important to me – I appreciate ya’ll taking the time to make any comment, so I want to chat back with you. I definitely get to all of them, and I really try to do so before the next episode airs, but Real Life is nutty sometimes. This past week between work demanding to be a priority (what’s up with that?!), NaNoWriMo, and getting swept into an emotional maelstrom with the Presidential election in the US, I got behind. But, I will reply to your comments to 8.05 as well as anything you feel like sharing on this ramble (just might take me a bit longer than I’d like).
I’m here for you, man. *grins*
SO. Mixed feelings. At first, I wasn’t sure what I thought about Garth being back. He had to grow on me again. But then I realized that it was actually rather perfect. What happened needed to happen and could not have happened had the boys been alone. And it needed to be an unbiased colleague with them. Garth, for all his awkwardness and bumbling, was the perfect mediator. He digs both boys.
And while his Bobby-esque-ness had me cringing and wincing right along with Dean at the start, I did understand Garth’s need for homage. As he said, Bobby didn’t belong just to Dean and Sam. And grief is very personal. We all have different ways of dealing with it. Dean’s realizing that and softening toward the guy, I think, helped Dean heal a bit from a loss he’d never really been able to grieve.
The biggest thing that tangled me up with this episode, though, is the reality that we never get to deal with just one big emotional thing at a time. It all gets piled on and we either crumble or square our shoulders, depending on the situation. It’s not just dealing with getting used to each other again and finding Kevin and Dean’s new friend and Sam’s leaving Amelia – now it’s a reminder of Bobby. Though, I think Dean definitely had a harder time putting that reminder of Bobby somewhere inside where he could deal with it than Sam did.
I typically find myself relating to Dean, his reasonings, his reactions, and this episode was no different. But I could also understand Sam’s almost petulant defensiveness throughout the first part of the episode. Dean’s statement that there’s not much about Purgatory Sam would get is a telling one for both of them. For a bit there (not in this episode, but previously), I saw Sam wanting to understand – trying to figure out what had happened to Dean to make him so fidgety and more comfortable sitting on the floor, despite Dean’s reticence to talk about the experience.
But Sam got impatient rather quickly because, I think, he is very much in his own headspace, dealing with a that was then, this is now reality shift that he didn’t want to deal with. I’ve been there – when someone I care about has gone through something huge, something life changing and I wasn’t a part of it…it’s hard. You feel left out and disconnected. You want to know what it was like for them but they’re not the same person they were before this big thing happened to them and so you find it hard to know the right questions to ask, the right way to talk to them. You have to get used to them all over again and sometimes that builds up resentment.
It’s irritating to know every day that they’re going through something you can’t understand – especially when they either can’t or won’t let you in on it. Details, in these cases, can mean everything. Not only that, you’ve got your own stuff going on and it’s frustrating that your stuff suddenly becomes less important because their stuff is so big. So, yeah, I get what Sam seems to be going through, to a certain extent. The part where I stop is that he stops. For whatever reason this season, Sam’s sympathy for Dean is low.
I don’t fully understand it yet. I want to think that it’s because something happened in addition to what we already know Sam’s gone through. We finally found out that by the time Sam hooked up with Amelia, it had been a couple of months since Dean vanished. Anything could have happened to Sam within those months – and I wish they’d bridge that gap for us, because that’s where my head keeps getting caught as far as understanding and justifying Sam’s choices. I want to think that something caused Sam to build up his own kind of walls – Dean’s post-Purgatory walls are wrapped all around him, keeping him outwardly tough and cold because to feel anything else in the world right now could crush him, but Sam’s are internal, hidden, strictly around his heart, his soul.
I don’t want to think that this is the Sam who always was – that all we’ve watched him go through with his brother and for his brother and as a hunter was just him adapting to his surroundings and that really, he was this guy who wanted to quit his family and be someone else (this is one instance where my whole question of change that I posed back with episode 2 rears up at me). But…I gotta be honest. At the moment, I’m struggling.
I’ve also been on Dean’s side of that “not much about Purgatory you do get” statement, looking out at someone who says they imagine how I feel about something so big in my life that it changes my course. I’ve been there a lot, actually. My whole marriage has been that as I’ve lived as the “healthy spouse.” I’ve alternated between regarding others with sympathy because I know they’re just trying to be nice, just trying to relate to me, and regarding them with irritation because just don’t go there, that’s why reasonings.
When life turns you sideways and spits you back out, you have to figure out how to see the world again. You don’t always want someone else to get it – at least not right away. At some point you just get so lonely you need someone else to look at you and see you, see what you’ve survived and appreciate how hard it has been for you and commend you for simply standing there in one piece. But it takes awhile to get to that place, and it takes the right person and the right approach to get through to you. And even then it’s hard to accept that unless they were right there with you, living every moment of it by your side, that anyone could really understand. Even if they went through something just like it – they didn’t go through your thing, so it’s not the same. And so you hold it close to you and your identity starts to blend with this experience and you adapt. To me, that’s Dean and Purgatory right now. And that’s hard.
Before I get into the ramble, I want to touch on conflict. Last week I said that the conflict we’re seeing between the brothers makes for a better story and is necessary for their journey. After the soccer game last night, I saw a statement on twitter about a fan being over the conflict. I can sympathize – mostly because of my rather visceral reaction to Sam’s final words. I do want our boys to mend, I want them to “be brothers again,” not just in the connected by blood sense, but in the “I would die for you” sense. Because they’re so not there right now – I mean even Garth sees it.
But here’s the thing – I don’t want a magic wand. I want it to unfold. I want to see their journey, as much as it might hurt to watch. I want to see them go from this dark place into a place of light; I don’t want it to just happen. I want it to be real this time.
And we’re moving down that path. It starts with honesty – even when the truth hurts and even when a side of someone is revealed that’s a bit uglier than we might’ve imagined. And sometimes we have to tear the walls down before we can rebuild the structure. I know these brothers have been there before – breaking down walls and building them back up should be old hat to them. They should be existential architectural savants.
But I think the reason they’re not is twofold: a) they never really got the walls all the way down in the first place, and 2) things keep interrupting their construction schedule. This isn’t an again situation, it’s a still situation. And I think it is going to take time, and it’s going to be painful because we’re seeing some truths to characters now that either weren’t there before – or were and nobody really saw it.
One last personal anecdote and then I’ll hush up and get on with the show. I’ve told ya’ll before that I’m the oldest of five kids and had to raise the two youngest for a time. My sister closest in age to me is my Sam. We are opposite each other in every way possible…except that in that weird way family has, we also tend to approach certain situations the same. She always did her own thing because there was no way she was turning out like me; I was the kid who never had her own life and did everything Mom and Dad said. Somehow, despite it all, we managed to survive to adulthood and became actual friends – not just the go play with your sister, you’re stuck with her kind of friends.
But one thing I didn’t realize until a couple years ago was that our friendship was contingent on me ‘getting over it.’ I had to suck it up, accept things that I didn’t want to accept, roll with things that went against my gut, forgive, forget, and ‘be the bigger person.’ I can’t tell you how many times I heard that phrase from my parents.
After a pretty big argument with my sister two years ago, I decided not to get over it and I wrote her a letter that was as honest as I had ever been with her – it had to be a letter because she wasn’t speaking to me. I basically laid out for her what I’d been pretending all this time to accept and understand and said that I wanted to have an honest relationship with her, but that it would mean she’d have to accept me as I am, not as the person who stayed quiet to keep the peace at all costs.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my sister is still not repaired (due to a number of other factors outside of that letter) but I haven’t lost hope. She’s my sister; and it’s going to take time, and it’s going to hurt – pretty sure it’s going to rip my heart out a few more times – but I hope we’ll have a relationship again.
And that’s one of the reasons I have so much hope for the relationship of these fictitious brothers. Anyone else I say this to would scoff, but I know you guys get how Dean and Sam coming together after all they’ve been through, repairing their relationship, and getting back on track would give me hope for a real-life situation. And I’m willing to hang in there and wait and watch them work through this.
Okay, you ready? Let’s Ramble On.
Things I Loved:
- Everything about Dean the moment he said, “He’s my friend, Sam.” Especially his voice. And the set of his jaw. And the look in his eyes. (What?)
- The joint look of disbelief on the brother’s faces when they saw Garth.
- Sam’s expression when Dean said he was sulking around like a eunuch in a whore house. Sam’s had some pretty animated expressions in reaction to Dean this season. *smiles*
- This line: “You’ve been protecting [your brother] your whole life – don’t stop now.”
- Dean giving Garth Bobby’s hat back.
Things I Liked:
- Hearing Amelia’s back story.
- The use of Soundgarden’s “Fell On Black Days” in the recap montage thingy (Chris Cornell’s voice can melt me).
- Civil War ghost (okay specter, but still). Mainly because of a story I wrote called “Shadows and Dust.” *grins*
- Dean’s specter-possessed speech about choices. Long-time coming.
- Garth eating the entire time they were in the diner.
- Garth revealing that he’d been a dentist for a hot minute.
Things that were meh (and by meh, I should clarify that I mean things I would have done differently or was underwhelmed by or had me head-tilting…there’s very little I flat out do not like):
- The recap montage thingy – I was pretty much, um, duh through that whole thing.
- The deaths – felt like overkill (no pun intended) with the gruesome.
- Carl telling Dean the specter liked him.
Things I can add to my question list:
- What was Sam doing in the months between losing Dean and meeting Amelia? Yes, I still want to know.
- What do the other hunters think about Sam and Dean being back? How much do they know about what went down with the Leviathans? And are any of them still after the brothers?
- What else happened in Purgatory? There is clearly so much more than we have seen so far for Dean to feel such devotion to Benny.
THEN: Remember Garth? Okay, you’re good.
NOW: We start off in Kearney, Missouri with the obligatory ucky death scene in these MotW-type episodes. It’s night. Guy, Chester, is under his car fixing it. Wife, Mary, comes up and he asks her for a cold one. She kicks out the jack, yelling that he should ask Sara Alcott to get it for him. She smushes him with the car, then starts it up (while he’s screaming) and drives over him, taking off half his head and then, apparently, carves the name Alcott into his chest with her fingernails. Gah.
Elsewhere, standing outside of Fat Mack’s BBQ, Dean is leaning against the Impala looking at his phone and Sam brings him a drink. It’s unclear how much time has passed since the end of the last episode, but I’m going to guess not much based on a few of Sam’s comments. Not more than a day at least. Dean tells Sam he caught wind of a case and Sam is basically like WTH, you haven’t said a word to me since Prentiss Island.
Sam: You want me to shut up and ride shotgun like nothing happened?
He’s got a point. I mean, I get Dean not knowing exactly how to talk with Sam about Benny. And not just because of the vampire thing. Obviously, as we learn later, the fact that Sam didn’t look for Dean while he was in Purgatory hurt him deeply – more than Dean could really admit to. So part of it might be, too, that he subconsciously doesn’t think Sam has a right to know. He feels abandoned by Sam, so through his resentment, doesn’t feel like he owes Sam an explanation.
But he’s going to have to get over that if he ever hopes to get his brother back for real. Ack, see? It’s conditioned into me – be the bigger person, keep the peace, forgive, forget.
Dean (reluctant): You want to talk about Benny? Fine, let’s talk.
Sam: How about, he’s a vampire?
He whispers the word since they’re standing on either side of the car talking. I thought that was funny.
Dean: He’s also the reason I’m topside and not roasting on a spit in Purgatory. Anything else?
Sam: I get that you had to do what you had to do down there—
Dean: I highly doubt you get anything about Purgatory.
This I get. And you know what? I think Sam gets it, too. And I think Sam feels guilty and jealous and is angry that he feels guilty and jealous, which to me is perfectly understandable. I think Sam’s not liking Benny has less to do with the fact that he’s a vampire and more to do with the fact that he’s jealous Benny’s important to Dean. Important enough that Dean made the ‘do not kill monster’ decision without Sam’s influence, which was always needed before. Even before Dean was possessed, it was clear that Benny is important to him – and that has to trigger Sam. No one – no one – has ever been more important to Dean than Sam before. Not even Cas.
And I honestly think that if Dean had come back to find out Sam had turned himself inside out to find him, Benny would have stayed Dean’s friend, but the connection and the way he let Sam in on it would have been extremely different. But as it is, Dean is looking at Benny as literally the only person in his life who has not betrayed or let him down (yet) and even before he comes out and says it, his brother feels it and that’s a pretty big hurdle for Sam to overcome. Especially for someone as prideful as Sam.
Sam: But you’re out now and Benny’s still breathing? Why?
Dean: He’s my friend, Sam.
Sam brings up Amy. Which I expected. That’s a justifiable sore spot for him. I don’t see it the way Sam apparently does, though. Amy was actively killing humans – yes, to save her son, but the reason is irrelevant to Dean. She was killing humans. And if her son had gotten sick again, she would have done it again. Benny – like the vampire Lenore, whom Sam advocated to save, and Kate the werewolf – is not. Has not.
Dean: I guess people change. We let that werewolf Kate go.
Sam: She was different. You think Benny’s different?
Sam: You’re telling me he’s not drinking live blood? And you believe him?
At this point, Sam’s incredulity had me frowning. The only reason he has for not believing Benny about not drinking live blood is the fact that Benny is a vampire and Sam – our Sam – should be willing to concede that possibility as much as he’s lived inside the gray areas of his own life. But his jealousy is getting in his way.
Sam (without charity): Ok. You’re right. People do change.
Dean: Yeah, I got a vamp buddy and you turned your phone off for a year.
Man, pain leaked around the edges of his words there. *rubs heart*
Sam: Don’t turn this on me.
Dean: Look. Benny slips up and some other hunter turns his lights out? So be it.
Sam: But it’s not gonna be you, right?
Which…Sam? How fair of a question is that? Sam knew Amy was killing humans and he didn’t kill her. He expects so much different from his brother?
Dean (just looks at Sam, levels his eyes, then looks down and away): You coming or what?
Later, suited up, they pull up in front of Chester and Mary’s house, and this is when Dean gives Sam the 411…which just seemed funny timing. If I were Sam, I’d want to know what the hell I was doing before I got all suited up. Just saying.
Sam thinks the case sounds like insanity, not supernatural and wants to know why this is ‘their kind of thing.’
Dean (frustrated, tired): Because, Sam. Kevin’s in the wind. You’re sulking around like a eunuch in a whore house. I can’t help but ask myself when is decapitation not my thing.
Fair enough. Also, aside – does this show ever make you think about all the crazy stuff we see in the news? If this were real, how much of the chaos and mayhem that people do to each other in life could be blamed on some kind of spirit or curse and how much could be blamed on people? I wrote a story with sojourner84 called “Devil Inside” where we proposed that serial killers were all possessed by demons. Still think it’s an interesting concept.
As they head up to the crime scene tape and flash their badges at the deputy, he tells them that a Texas Ranger is already there. Cue Garth. They approach him and his delight at seeing them alive and together is infectious – for everyone but the boys, apparently. He grabs both of them in a hug.
Sam: I forgot he was a hugger.
They step away from the son of the deceased, Scott, and Dean’s all, seriously? Texas Ranger? We’re in Missouri. Garth thinks he looks like a funeral director in a suit. Fair enough again. As he’s talking to them about being happy to see they’re back, one of his many phones ring – some hip-hop beat that sounded like “Bounce.” He coaches someone named Earl through taking care of a revenant. This catches the boys’ attention.
Sam: Hold up, are you the new Bobby?
Dean: You shut your mouth.
Dean: You shut your mouth. What?
Garth: Bobby was gone, you two were MIA, it was a weird time. Someone had to step in and take up the slack.
Interesting to me how easy Sam was with this news; Dean, however, was not happy.
Garth tells them they’ll talk about this later; they have work to do.
Dean: Did Garth just tell us what to do?
Poor Dean. Black is white, white is black, dogs and cats are living together....
They talk to the son, Scott, about his parents and basically find out there’s no earthly reason for his mom to smush his dad with the car. They go over to inspect the bloody scene where Chester bought it and Sam’s all no EMF, no sulfur. But Garth tells him to hold up, it’s been awhile and the scene is contaminated. Dean’s like, good point – y’know, since Garth is agreeing with him and all.
When Garth steps in ectoplasm – a fact he confirms by wiping it off and tasting it, gah! – they figure it must be a ghost. Another one of Garth’s phone rings with another hip-hop ring tone.
Dean: One of those things rings Hammer and I’m throwing down.
The call was from the coroner telling them about the name “Alcott” carved into Chester’s chest. SO, they go to talk to the wife, Mary, who is handcuffed to the bed. Both hands. She doesn’t remember anything, she says. Just bits and pieces – a phrase that sends Garth into a fit of 13-year-old boy giggles and earns him a you’re kidding me with this, right death-stare from Dean. They find out that “Alcott” is Sara Alcott who Chester took to the prom after he and Mary got into a fight – over 30 years ago.
Dean: Lemme get this straight. This poor guy goes to prom with someone 30 years ago and because of that he’s now a pancake?
They decide they need to talk to Sara Alcott.
Dean: Did we eat yet?
Ha! I love it!
They are eating at some bar/pool hall thing with Confederate flags on the wall. I don’t know why, but I liked that Sam and Dean sat next to each other, Garth on the other side. Garth wants to know where Dean was for the last year and Dean tries to evade the answer. Sam looks down. Finally Garth pushes far enough.
Dean: I was in Purgatory.
Garth: Like…Purgatory Purgatory?
Dean: No, the one in Miami.
Garth (in amazement): Man, that’s balls.
Dean (frowning): That’s not how you say ‘balls.’
Garth (ignoring the rebuke): How’d you get out?
At this, Sam sits up and turns to look at his brother all, yeah, Dean, tell him how your vampire friend helped you out of Purgatory. Mr. Sassy Pants.
Dean deflects the question and wants to know if the people around here know the Civil War is over. Yeah, not everywhere it isn’t. Garth educates them on a border state – half Confederate, half Union. Lawrence is roughly an hour away from Kansas City, which is a border town. Every year when KU plays Missouri we call it “border wars” because of that very thing. People have long memories.
Sam: How’d you know all of this?
Garth: I went to college.
Sam (shocked): You went to college?
*tilts head at his tone*
Garth: Yep. College and onto dental school.
Dean: You were a dentist?!
It’s a funny thing, our pasts. You can’t tell just from looking at a person all the roads they have traveled and stories they could tell.
Elsewhere, Scott is in his truck getting ready to run into a convenience store. He’s on the phone to, presumably, his wife, and groans as he notices someone named Jeff walking into the store. He takes a hit off of his asthma inhaler – which was in his mother’s purse, on the front seat of the truck, then when he’s walking into the store we see green good running out of his ear. Not a good sign, that.
Poor Jeff. First, he gets a cup of scalding coffee in the face, and then Scott beats his head in with a shovel before writing “Sussex” on the freezer door in Jeff’s blood. Nasty. Just as he’s finished killing Jeff, though, Scott looks up and we see his reflection in the security mirror – it’s of an emaciated, zombie-like ghost of a Confederate soldier.
The boys and Garth show up at the store and Dean’s all like, first the mom and now the son?
Dean: What is this a ghost with an Oedipus complex? (Sam looks at him, eyebrow raised.) I don’t know what that means.
HA! He makes me laugh.
Garth, stepping on more ectoplasm, catches Dean’s attention as he’s talking about Scott remembering nothing but a red hot rage. Dean asks if the hat he’s wearing is Bobby’s. Garth says Bobby left it in his car after a hunt awhile back and Dean, angry, rips it off of Garth’s head and puts it in his back pocket, saying that’s not how you wear it. Poor Garth. He looks torn between confused and mad.
They check out the security footage in the convenience store and see that Scott’s head is all glowy – which they’ve never seen before. Garth says they need to talk to Sara Alcott. Sam offers to check on her and suggests Dean and Garth to find out about Sussex. Dean’s oh, you bastard expression is priceless as Sam smiles smugly and leaves him with Garth.
Sam sits on Sarah’s front porch and finds out that yeah, Sarah went to prom with Chester and she wasn’t really a “good girl” that night, but a week later, Chester and Mary eloped and every since then, Mary’s kept Chester on a short leash, not associating with Sara as she was a reminder of Chester’s betrayal. As Sam is leaving, something in what Sara said reminded him of his first night sleeping with Amelia. It’s in her hotel room and we get a sweep of clothes strewn everywhere, glasses and bottle of liquor on the table, and Sam and Amelia in bed.
Hilariously, Sam has his T-shirt on. If it was that hot and heavy, I would have imagined skin to skin, even later. *smirks*
Amelia tells him that she did lose someone – her husband. He died in Afghanistan 8 months ago. She thought they’d been together forever – it seemed that way – and then one day her husband, Don, enlisted saying something about doing the right thing. She got a couple of letters, some phone calls, and then a knock at the door. She felt like she saw judgment and pity all around her and everything reminded her of Don, so she ran away, moved there. And then Sam hit a dog.
So, we know what SHE was doing. What about Sam?? *the horse is dead, Gaelic*
Elsewhere, back that the boys’ hotel room, Dean’s on the computer and Garth is looking through one of Bobby’s books. Dean stops Garth from snagging his spare beer, since he’s such a lightweight.
Garth (chuckling): You’re such an idjit.
Dean (frowning): Idjit’s supposed to be used angrily. Not happy. If you’re gonna butcher it, don’t say it at all.
Garth: Okay, none of my business, but does this have anything to do with you and Sam?
Dean: You got it right. None of your business.
Garth: You guys seem tense around each other.
Dean: We’re fine. Can we get back to work?
Garth: Just letting you know I’m here for you. For anything. I know sometimes Bobby—
Dean (slams his beer down): You’re not Bobby. You’re never gonna be Bobby. So stop.
Garth (near tears): Bobby belonged to all of us. Not just you and Sam. I’m just taking what he showed me and trying to do something with it. That’s all.
Aww, Garth. *rubs heart*
Dean (softens): See if you can find something in that Bourbon-drenched book of his so we can get the Hell out of Dixie.
Dean finds out that Sussex is a business that Jeff and Scott owned together and that Jeff was responsible for tanking. Sam calls and tells them about Sara.
Dean: Mary had a grudge against Sara. Scott had a grudge against Jeff. Besides the fact that this is making my head hurt, how does this add up to a ghost?
Bobby had the answer in his book, Garth discovers. Green goo = specter. It possesses you, finds out whatever betrayal you’re feeling and forces you to act on it. And the last one Bobby ran up against was after a grave desecration. Garth finds out that the tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier was vandalized the day before Mary smashed Chester – kids broke in, drank beer, shoved the (very heavy) lid off of the coffin, sprayed graffiti. The guard out front is ceremonial – there’s no one protecting it at night.
Sam: Burn a Confederate soldier’s bones in a town full of rednecks? Suuuuure.
So, it’s night, they’re at the tomb with flashlights. Sam finds a piece of string on the ground – which, until he identified it later as string, I thought was a rubber band, to be honest. They shove the lid off, exposing the body in uniform with its guns and belt buckle – all very valuable – still in place. Dean wonders why open it if you’re not going to take anything and Sam suggests the cops came and scared the kids off. They pour in the fuel and the salt and just before Dean goes to light the match, Garth says they should say something.
Dean: Uh…sure. (lights match) We won.
Next day at the jail, the deputy is at his desk and the sheriff drops off a file on his desk and tells him to type up the report. Shooting daggers at the sheriff’s back, he hears a strangled noise and goes to the jail cells to see that Scott is having an asthma attack. Going into evidence for Scott’s inhaler, he suddenly shifts into Possessed Mode, grabs a shotgun, heads into the bullpen, and blasts away the sheriff.
I wonder if poor Scott ever got his inhaler?
The boys are there after the fact and Dean’s wondering if they torched the wrong redneck. But Sam proposes cursed object. When talking to the deputy, they find out that Carl, another officer, tackled him, cuffed him, and grabbed his gun, saying something about going to the hospital. Dean sends Sam and Garth to check on the Unknown Soldier and he heads to the hospital.
At the library, Garth offers the whole I’m here for you talk to Sam like he did Dean, and that sends Sam into another flashback to the morning after with Amelia where she’s like, forget everything I said, I don’t need your pity. Sam’s like, pity, wha…? He tries to tell her he doesn’t pity her but she’s on the defensive big time.
At the hospital, Dean parks behind the sheriff truck and heads inside. Sam and Garth are checking out lore on the Unknown Soldier – has to be lore as there is a reason he’s the “unknown” soldier. Back at the hospital, Carl attacks a male nurse, calls him ref, and is after him because he called him out on 2nd base. Really, Carl? That’s your deep seeded betrayal?
Dean gets the gun from him, but his punch does nothing because Possessed!Carl is suddenly He-Man and he grabs Dean by the throat. Meep!
At the library, a pretty librarian is telling Sam and Garth about the lore of two local boys, one a Corporal Collins who fought for the Union and a Confederate soldier named Vance Collins, his brother. There’s a picture of Vance in a book she’s showing them. The Corporal shot and killed his brother and supposedly, with his dying breath, Vance swore vengeance on his brother. Later, the Corporal returned and dug up his brother where he’d buried him on the battle field and brought him home, so supposedly, Vance is the Unknown Soldier.
Sam sees a penny on a string around Vance’s neck in the picture and realizes that was the string he found in the tomb. He tries to call Dean to tell him the object is the penny, but Dean’s busy being choked by Carl. He’s trying to get Carl to speak through the specter possessing him and tell him what the object is, but just…sniffs Dean and says the specter likes him. *arches brow* That was just weird.
Dean: Tell him to c’mon out here and we’ll make promise bracelets.
Carl throws Dean across the room, hard, and while Dean is on the ground, dazed, Carl/Specter puts the penny in Dean’s hand. *gulp*
A bit later, Sam and Garth walk into the hotel room to find Dean sitting calmly on the bed, his ringing phone next to him and a gun in his hand. He cocks it, raises it, stands and points it at Sam, saying, “You should have looked for me when I was in Purgatory.”
At that point, they felt it was necessary to give us this montage – with really cool music, mind you – on the journey the penny traveled, but I think we’re all smart enough to figure that out, so back to the important stuff with Dean.
Sam: I know it’s not you in there pulling the strings, Dean.
Dean (gun totally steady and unwavering at he points it at Sam): You never even wanted this life. Always blamed me for pulling you back into it.
Sam (looking scared…and slightly guilty): That’s not true.
Dean: Everything you’ve ever done since you climbed into my ride has been to deceive me.
Sam: What do you want me to say? That I made mistakes? I’ve made mistakes, Dean!
Garth: That’s not Dean, Sam.
Dean yells at Garth to shut up, then looks back at Sam.
Dean (moving forward as he talks, getting closer to Sam, which wasn't smart because Sam can be wicked fast when he needs to be): Mistakes? Let’s go through some of Sammy’s greatest hits. Drinking demon blood, check. Being in cahoots with Ruby, not telling me you lost your soul, or how about hanging around with Samuel for a year letting me think you were dead while you were doing all kinds of crazy…those aren’t mistakes, those are choices!
Sam hangs his head and I was torn. I agreed with every single thing Dean was saying. I was glad he was saying them, too, because even if he didn’t remember what he said, Sam knew this pain was real, he knew these feelings were true and were inside of Dean, buried deep where he would never let himself say them. He knew his brother felt this way and I think that it was part of the wall destruction that needed to happen.
Still, though, getting called to the carpet like that – possession or no possession – cannot be easy. Those words stung Sam. A lot. And it’s how Sam chose to react to those words (after getting the penny away from Dean, I mean) that triggered me. You can’t control anyone else but yourself. And Sam’s continuing to make choices about his behavior that is hurting his brother and I think that right now, he wants it that way because he’s hurting, too. He just doesn’t really know exactly why. Not clearly. It’s clear for Dean, his pain. It’s kludgey for Sam.
Sam: We both played a little fast and loose.
Dean: I may have lied, but I never once betrayed you. I never once left you to die. And for what? A girl? You left me to die for a girl?!
And there it is. The bandage is ripped away and the raw, bloody wound is exposed. Abandonment issues are pretty tough to overcome. *rubs heart hard*
Dean’s close enough, though, that Sam sweeps the gun aside and hits Dean. Hard. He shoves him through a glass partition window and hits him again, but it’s not enough to get him to lose the gun. And Dean has specter-strength, remember, so he punches Sam in the face and sends him flying across the room. Sam’s nose is bleeding and he’s lying stunned on the floor when Garth darts between them. Sam calls out for him to stop but Garth is confident that Dean won’t hurt him.
Garth: You do not want to kill your brother. You’ve been protecting him your whole life. Don’t stop now.
*rubs heart again*
I love that Garth knew that – and that Sam heard it. Sam knows it’s true, sure, but it never hurts to be reminded what Dean has done for him. Maybe he’ll even remember later when he’s able to get out of his own headspace. And I’m not saying that with bitterness – Sam has a lot going on in his head right now; sometimes it’s hard to see past our own concerns, issues, heartache, reactions to see how a situation is impacting others we care about.
Dean: He left me to rot in Purgatory.
Garth: I’m sure he had his reasons.
Sam (on the ground, bleeding, and snappish): Just like you had your reasons for Benny.
Yeah, not helping Sam. You want him to shoot you? Pick your battles, man.
Dean: Benny’s been more of a brother to me this past year than you’ve ever been. That’s right! Cas let me down. You let me down. The only person who hasn’t let me down is Benny!
My head added a ‘yet’ because Dean always seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to that – I don’t really think he expects too much, but maybe that’s just me. I really really really hope the writers don’t send Benny south. Dean needs one friend to stay on his side. It will help him believe in his other friend and his brother again.
Garth: I know you’re angry. You have to fight this. Do not do this.
Dean (stepping forward, angling the gun over Garth’s shoulder): Goodbye, Sam.
Garth gets in a lucky punch that sends Dean staggering and shakes the penny loose from his grip. He straightens up, holding his jaw, and looking completely confused – for him, last he remembers he was fighting Carl in the hospital. Garth is hollering and shaking his hand. He bends over and picks up the penny and Sam calls out no! but Garth? He’s cool, man. It can’t do anything to you if you don’t have a sense of betrayal in your heart. I better stay far, far away from that penny.
Later, outside the motel, Dean is saying goodbye to Garth. He melted the penny down. Tells him he lets his stuff go – can’t change the past. Hmm. Good, but hard, lesson to learn.
Garth: Stop being an idjit (said correctly). With Bobby dead, you and Sam are all each other has, and that’s not so bad! You know what comes next….
He wraps his arms around a reluctant Dean. Hee. Dean gives Garth Bobby’s hat back. One of Garth’s phones rings – Hammertime, of course – and he gets into the car coaching someone named Lamar through torching a wendigo. His car doesn’t start. He slams his hand on the wheel and yells, “Balls!” Dean has a slight, very slight, half-grin. And then the car starts, and Garth is gone. Dean heads back to the motel room and knocks on the door.
Sam’s inside washing off his face and the knocking of the door takes him back to Amelia and his trying to convince her that he doesn’t pity her.
Sam: You and me are a lot of things, but we’re not to be pitied. I lost my brother, Dean, a few months ago. It felt like my world imploded and came raining down on me and I ran. Just like you.
Amelia invites him in and they decide that they want to talk to each other about who they lost. So I see his attraction to her. She’s a kindred spirit. And it was good to hear how the loss of Dean hit him. But I didn’t quite understand why that memory – the memory of how confessing how destroyed he was when he thought Dean was gone would lead him to behave the way he does next. I’m still working on seeing his side of the anger because right now, my heart just hurts for Dean and Sam is confusing me.
At the Impala, loading their stuff inside, Sam speaks up.
Sam: For the record? The girl? Her name’s Amelia. Amelia Richardson. She and I had a place together in Kermit, Texas.
Dean: I don’t even remember what I said, but—
Sam: What? You didn’t mean it? Please. (very Gossip Girl, that ‘please’) You and I both know you didn’t need a penny to say those things.
Uh, yeah, he kinda did. That’s why he’s never said them to you before, Sam. That’s why it all came rushing out – that's why the penny even worked in the first place! Because he swallows it down. Because he’s constantly being told to ‘get over it,’ ‘suck it up,’ ‘forgive, forget,’ and ‘be the bigger person.’ Because it’s what he does to show you he cares about you.
I was reminded of season 4’s “Sex and Violence” when Sam was possessed by the siren and came ‘clean’ to Dean, saying, “I’m a better hunter than you – stronger, smarter. I can take out demons you’re too scared to go near. You’re too busy sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, whining about all the souls you tortured in Hell.” Those were hurtful words – true for Sam at the time and not something he was willing to say to Dean, but he claimed he didn’t remember and Dean went with it. Guess when the tables are turned, it’s not so easy to accept for some people.
Dean: C’mon, Sam….
Sam: Enough of your crap, Dean. I told you from the jump where I was coming from. Why I didn’t look for you. But you had secrets. You had Benny. You got on your high and mighty and you’ve been kicking me ever since you got back. That’s over. Move on, or I will.
Dean (quietly pulling himself in, leveling his eyes on his brother): Okay. I hear you.
Yeow. Seriously. *whimpers a bit*
I know Sam’s angry and I get that he’s hurt about Benny, but what amazed me was that he couldn’t see that his ‘coming clean’ to Dean about not looking for him was one of the reasons Dean didn’t tell him about Benny. What would Sam have thought if the situation had been reversed? Would he have said, wow, great, you had a year off, you lived the good life, you’ve never really had that before, I’m happy for you, man. Maybe Sam thinks he would, but highly doubt it.
I think he would have felt as hurt and betrayed as Dean is feeling. And if there had been someone helping to keep him alive, someone watching his back, saving the people he was friends with, getting him out of that hell, he would have been pretty protective of that person.
Dean hasn’t really let Sam in on how he’s coping, but when he has to tell himself that this is reality, that he’s real just to get through each day? Things are pretty tough. And the sad part is, Sam of all people would (or should) understand that, if Dean could trust him with it. But it’s clear Dean’s afraid to. And with good reason, it seems.
Sam: Hear this, too. I just might be that hunter who runs into Benny one day and ices him.
Dean (whole body stilling, eyes going hot): Guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, won’t we?
Sam (looking mad and mean): Yeah, you keep saying that.
So, Sam’s mad. I get it. He’s jealous of Benny. I get that, too. He’s tired of being ‘kicked’ about the choices he made a year ago and can do nothing about. I'd probably feel the same. But the moment Dean swallowed it all, took Sam’s angry tirade in stride, and accepted that he’d hurt his brother with his words and Sam wasn’t going to take it anymore, Sam should have (IMO) stopped. Going that one step further and threatening someone Dean had flat-out told him was a friend made me angry.
Not really on Benny’s behalf, though I really dig that dude, but because of how I knew that had to hurt Dean and how that now put one more wedge between them, one more thing that Dean can’t trust Sam with. If he wanted the truth about what Dean went through, he went the opposite direction from getting it with that statement.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. If Dean can roll with understanding Sam’s anger and see past his own trauma to find a way to trust his brother again. I mean, I know Dean trusts that Sam will get the job done and will do the right thing as Sam sees it, but right now he doesn’t trust him with him. With his heart, his secrets.
It’s also going to be interesting to see if Sam can get past his own loss and hang-ups to cut Dean some slack and not be so angry with everything. Not just Dean, but everything. He’s angry about life right now. And I think his guilt for not looking for Dean (now that he knows he was alive) coupled with that anger is manifesting itself harshly when he’s dealing with Dean. Sam’s not being fair, but I don’t think he can help it right now.
As always, thank you for reading. I will reply to comments (even if it takes me a bit) so let me know your thoughts – even if you don’t agree. *smile* Just play nice, that’s all I ask.
Quick reminder – next week’s will be late, too, because I have to travel for work. Might be posted on Friday the 16th, but as we have a short hiatus on the 21st for the US Thanksgiving holiday, maybe it will help bridge that gap. It looks like a doozy, too, by the previews. I can’t wait to see more of this story!