“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
What a fantastic mid-season finale. I’m already going through withdrawal. Hope you’re not all talked-out about it, because I have lots of thoughts and I’m greedy for yours as well.
This is my first mid-air Ramble, and let me tell you, I’ve never written in such a cramped space before. I just hope the guy in front of me doesn’t lay back much further or he’ll be in my lap and I’ll be typing this behind my head! *laugh* But with travel comes a busy weekend and (thanks to my Kindle Fire) since I got to watch the episode on the first leg of my flight home, I wanted to get a jump on the Ramble as I’m anxious to see what ya’ll thought, too. I’ve had to do quick scrolls through Twitter and Facebook since Wednesday to avoid spoilers.
I had so many thoughts about this episode and the storyline clamoring for attention while I watched, I’m probably not going to be able to articulate them all in this opening section; so it’s possible this may be a bit of a longer Ramble as I weave them throughout the recap. Hope that’s okay, because I enjoyed this episode.
Something struck me while watching – perhaps because of the forced intimacy of the smaller screen of the Kindle and coupled with the ear buds – about how the boys (for they will always be ‘the boys’ to us) have aged.
The smile lines around Dean’s eyes, the way he holds himself a bit braced against life as if he carries a weight far greater than anyone in their mid-30’s should have to bear, the quick, sunny smiles chased away by memories of loss…his appeal (for me) is beyond mere aesthetics. His face tells a story and the chapters are captured in a glance. It’s a weathering of experience that has me catching my breath at the slightest shift of expression. Juxtaposed against the smooth-faced innocence he carried eight years ago before he’d been asked to survive the impossible and it almost breaks my heart.
Sam has grown up and out and broader and longer (in the hair). He doesn’t have the same lines; he face doesn’t tell the same story. But when I think back to the kid – because he was such a kid when we first met him – that was thrust into a life he didn’t want, filled with pain and loss and uncertainty and sacrifice I see so much sadness in him now. Regret, resignation, surrender, all overpowers the hope that has sustained him for so long. His little grins of the last episode now seem so fleeting when compared to the grim knit of his brow as he searches for the right path to follow.
Eight years (for us…more like 10-ish for them, I think) after Dean found Sam at Stanford, they’re not the same people and this season we’re not only seeing that more clearly for ourselves, we’re seeing them see it. It’s not just about Sam being Dean’s responsibility – his one job – anymore. It’s not about Sam actually needing that protection anymore.
I liked that dynamic; I liked it a lot, actually. It’s what drew me to my obsession with this show.
But with this latest episode, I’m discovering that I’m also really enjoying watching as they each seek out a new balance, a new connection. It’s painful and it’s awkward, and it scares me on some levels – primarily because I love these characters more than I have any other fictional characters (on TV, anyway) – but it’s truly compelling storytelling and character development.
Something Martin said mid-episode caught me and had me thinking a lot about perspective and perception. He was talking about how John would have been ashamed of Dean if he’d heard his son defending a vampire – and he’s probably not wrong. But since we know why Dean is defending Benny, it struck me how easily we make assumptions based on our own filters, preconceptions, and biases. Even though it’s later apparent that someone – either Sam or Dean – shared with Martin that Dean and Benny had been in Purgatory together, Martin’s contempt for Dean’s position on the matter was clear: Dean’ a hunter, Benny’s a vampire, the world is black and white.
Every day we deal with perceptions and assumptions spurring people to judgment. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of thinking that if someone uses a curt tone with me it’s my fault – I’ve upset them in some way. I don’t necessarily automatically consider the possibility that they may have not slept the night before, may have gotten into a fender-bender, could have spilled coffee on their shirt, argued with their spouse, any number of things.
It happens all the time around us, and it’s happening in the show as well. From Dean’s perspective, he spent a year in a war zone and nearly died and the only reason he’s here to tell the tale is because a vampire named Benny dragged his ass through the fire and kept him alive long enough to escape. From Sam’s perspective, Dean and a vampire escaped Purgatory and because of that, Dean has an unhealthy attachment to a monster and is not thinking clearly.
From Dean’s perspective, Sam turned his back on him, ran away from their job and responsibilities, and spent a year playing house with a girl. From Sam’s perspective, everything and everyone in his life disappeared inside the space of a heartbeat and he was lost, wandering, directionless and devoid of hope until he found something to hang onto in the form of a girl.
Dean thinks Sam chose a girl over his brother. Sam thinks Dean chose a monster over his brother.
What’s interesting is that while the timing is slightly different, they are doing and needing the same thing: someone to help them figure out who they are now (separately and together). The love for each other isn’t gone; it’s simply finding a new North.
But because of choices made during that year apart, they couldn’t just hug it out at Rufus’ cabin and drop right back into the life they’d left behind. A year is a long time. A year alters the way you look at the world – even without 360-degree combat and loving and losing. Just living every day of it, going through your life’s routines, shapes you into a different person.
And the brothers haven’t really allowed for that. They’ve tried to pick up where they left off to take care of this tablet business, and it’s clearly not working.
If it did, honestly? It wouldn’t be a very sincere relationship. It would be false, and we’d feel it. So, I think they may have just about hit the “rock bottom” they needed to reach and I think the next step would be to have someone call them on it and force them to face the facts: they’re not the same people, they either accept that and find a way to be brothers again, or they go their separate ways and quit forcing the issue.
Of course we don’t want them to pick door #2 – wouldn’t be much of a show if they did. And I think we’re seeing evidence of them recognizing that they’re slipping toward door #2 and resisting. For example, Sam giving Dean time to investigate the killings before they hunted Benny.
He didn’t have to do that; he did it because he cares about Dean and he trusts Dean (to a point). In fact, I think what Sam did by putting another hunter on ‘observe and report’ duty was not only a very Dean-like thing to do, it was more generous than Dean might have been had the situations been reversed. Sam was acting like a hunter by doing that – he doesn’t share the history with Benny that his brother has; all he has to go on is the limited information Dean has given him and (unlike Lenore) he hasn’t seen for himself that Benny doesn’t ‘drink people.’
From a personal perspective, I would like Sam to just trust Dean on Benny. I would like Sam to accept that Benny saved Dean in and from Purgatory and have that be enough proof that Benny’s a good guy. But at the same time, I can almost understand why he needs more. Don't get me wrong -- I still hold with my opinion that what Sam is doing he's doing because he's feeling jealous and guilty and he’s angry that he’s feeling jealous and guilty. But that aside, I think his keeping an eye on Benny is in line with the hunter he is and staying Martin’s hand to give Dean time to find Benny first was in line with the brother that he is.
And take what Dean did with Amelia’s phone number. First of all, it shows he’s looked into Amelia a bit – Sam gave him her name and it’s clear that Dean’s canny enough to find out pretty much everything about her if he wanted to, including the fact that Don had returned miraculously from the dead. We don’t know that he did that, but I suspect it’s a distinct possibility if he made the effort to get her phone number and link it to a burner phone. While he may still not have forgiven Sam for not looking for him, he accepts that Sam had a real history with this girl and obviously still cares about her. I’m sure he’s noticed Sam checking out as often as we have. *smile*
The fact that he used the ‘Amelia In Danger’ ploy to call Sam off could be seen as a bit mean – and I haven’t checked anything online yet, obviously, but I can imagine the factions of fandom on either side of the Brother Dividing Line had a field day with that little maneuver – but it was also effective in protecting two people Dean cares about: Benny and Sam.
Dean knows his brother; he knew that continuing to tell him ‘no’ would just spurn him on to find Benny faster. And Dean knows Benny; he knows that the mere fact that Sam is Dean’s brother wouldn’t necessarily stop Benny from fighting back if he were full-on attacked by a skilled hunter.
Plus, Dean knows how good of a fighter both of them are – the outcome of a fight between Sam and Benny could not only go either way, it would inevitably end in tears. Metaphorically speaking. So, with evidence that Sam’s stoic declaration that “there was a girl, and then there wasn’t” clearly wasn’t the whole story, Dean’s ploy to call Sam off was clever and not all together unkind. And, coincidentally, shoved Sam into a situation where he now has an opportunity (if he takes it) to get that part of his life straightened out.
So, now that they’ve taken us through the escape from Purgatory and shown us that Amelia is, indeed, a real person, maybe slipping into the past is finished and we can pick up the second half of the season with them finding the way to crawl up from here (because I am pretty sure it will be a crawl).
One more thing before I get into my lists: Benny. Even though he was a critical central thread throughout this episode, I haven’t said much about him here because, as I’ve written before, the show for me is about the brothers and all others, no matter how much I like them, basically serve to further the story of the brothers for me.
I have to admit that upon being introduced to this character, I was a bit pre-disposed to liking him due to a character I created in a recent fanfic; that aside, I have really enjoyed the dynamic Benny is bringing to the storyline and the brother’s relationship. He’s compelling all by himself – much like the other additional characters like Cas and Bobby have been to me – but coupled with a friendship with Dean and a possible enemy in Sam? Color me intrigued.
And damn but he has some pretty blue eyes. *bites lip*
Someone commented last Ramble that they were jealous that Dean had friends – like Cas and Benny – and Sam had no one to talk to. I was appreciative of that viewpoint because I really hadn’t looked at it that way before. Despite the ‘profound bond’ Cas and Dean share, I still consider Cas a friend of both the brothers, especially now after he healed Sam and took on his crazy as penance for not being able to pull him out of the Cage whole.
And while I do think that Benny offers Dean a friendship that’s on a different level than Cas – maybe a more compatible one as Benny doesn’t have any of the childlike innocence that often times gives me a sense that Dean is having to coach and care for Cas – I don’t really see Dean talking to this friend. If anything, he’s trying to stay as far away from him as possible. Basically, he just doesn’t want Benny to die. As he says, he owes him more than to simply lump him into the category of ‘monster.’
And now that Sam has seen Amelia again, that dynamic becomes interesting as well. Maybe Sam isn't so alone after all….
Okay, let’s get to it because I think we’re flying over west Texas. I need to type faster. *squirms in seat to find a comfortable position*
Things I loved:
- Can I just put "Dean’s face" at the top of each ‘loved’ list? *heart flutter* His expressions just…UNF.
- This line: “That half-wit was sent by my brother and trust me, my brother is not someone you want to mess with.” Along with this line: “Do not underestimate my little brother. He can and will kill you given the chance.”
- The look on Benny’s face when he says, “Darlin’, this ain’t my first rodeo.”
- The cool shot through the back window of the car of the brothers looking at each other.
- Dean’s (or, really, Jensen’s) full-on twang when he says, “Do I need to tell you what this looks like?”
- The way Benny slowly runs his fingers on the hilt of the machete coupled with the way Dean shifts to ‘at ease’ and shows the (big ass) knife he had hidden behind his back.
- Dean ordering pie (even though he didn’t get it *sad*).
Things I liked:
- Don Richardson.
- Dean telling Elizabeth she could “drop a dime herself” and the through-the-lashes glance he gave her. UNF.
- The gut-twisting sorrow in Benny’s eyes when he looked at Liz and said, “I’m sorry.”
- Sam’s heart-shaking gasp when he turns from the bar and sees Amelia standing there.
- Dean singing “I Feel Alright.” Even if it was just a few bars.
- Sam telling Amelia that she saved him.
- The long, hard look Benny gives Dean’s bleeding neck before he forces himself to turn away.
- Sam shoving Martin against the wall and telling him what’s what.
- The look on Dean’s face when he realizes that Elizabeth is Benny’s great-granddaughter.
Things that were meh:
- Okay, since I’m hoping that we’ve seen the last of them, the Amelia flashbacks really left something to be desired. Not sure if it was the way they were done (with the soft lenses and gentle colors), when they were done (random moments where Sam just…stops moving), or the story they told, but they just didn’t work for me. They could have suffered from Purgatory Comparison, but whatever. Meh.
- Martin being the pot-stirrer. I get that this character doesn't know the extent of what Dean's been through, but I didn't think it was necessary for the writers to lay his "your brother chose a vamp over you" monologue on so thick. We are already well aware that Sam is uber-sensitive to that, just as Dean is uber-sensitive to the fact that Sam didn't look for him. All Martin's comments did was (in my eyes) make Sam look even more jealous and guilty because he allowed another hunter to knock his brother out and then walked away from him. So, meh to you, Martin.
- I know he said he was trying to do the right thing, but I wonder if there was another reason why Sam left Amelia. He’d told Don that he would honor whatever decision Amelia made, but then he didn’t let her make the decision; he left before she could say anything, thinking he was making it ‘easier on her’ but (from my POV) being completely unfair to her at the same time.
- Now that Benny has tasted living blood, I wonder if he’s going to struggle even more to fight the hunger. He was having a hard enough time with just the smell of blood before he killed Martin. And I also wonder if that struggle is going to end up pushing him from “good guy” and Dean’s friend into the monster category that Sam’s already lumped him in. *hopes not*
THEN: Martin is a bag of loose screws, Amelia and Don, Benny meets Sam and Sam wants to ice him.
NOW: CCR’s Born on the Bayou (love!) is playing as we see a gumbo shack/diner in Carencro, Louisiana, where Benny is working as a cook named Roy. Elizabeth – the day-shift waitress/manager – is leaving, giving him the run-down of what he needs to make sure to close out, etc., and he’s just smiling at her, his eyes twinkling as he tells her that this ain’t his first rodeo. She smiles back, reassured, and leaves.
A slightly grizzled trucker sitting at the bar says that Liz is one helluva girl, and asks Benny if he has designs on her. Smiling again – and I realized that I really liked his smile – Benny says that Liz is more like a little sister. When the trucker asks if he can take a shot, Benny’s like, she’s all yours, Chief, his tone clearly indicating that the guy doesn’t stand a chance. The only other patron in the diner is sitting off to the side at one of the tables and we see his hand as he taps his coffee mug on the table to get Benny’s attention and asks for more.
As the camera pans up, we see that it’s Martin, looking thin, gray, and bedraggled. This was one time I was glad for the THEN because I don’t know that I would have recognized him right off, to be honest.
Benny shuts down the place, but as he steps outside, his brows pull together and he glances around, as if sensing something. He heads out and was see Martin circling around the side of the building. Benny’s moving slowly, cautiously and it wasn’t clear to me if he were aware he was being stalked, or if he were stalking someone else. I think it was supposed to be ambiguous, really. As Martin is following, he hears a cry and the sound of a struggle. He turns down a path and literally trips over a dead man – it’s the trucker from the diner, and his throat has been torn open. Whoops.
Annnd, turbulence. Going to have to finish this later.
Okay, I’m home. Now, where was I? Oh, right. Dead guy. So, elsewhere – not sure what state – the boys have pulled over to grab food at a drive-in called “Lost in the ‘50’s Diner” touting pie and burgers among other things. Seems like Dean’s perfect place. Sam’s in the car on the phone and Dean’s bringing them food. Sam tells the person on the phone to hang tight, then closes the phone and turns to Dean, telling him they have to go. Dean’s all but, but, but…food! Sam tells him that they have a vamp kill in Louisiana.
The way Dean smiles when he says, “It’s been awhile since I’ve had Etouffee,” made me wish Etouffee was my name.
Aside – any of you guys see the bruise/scuff on Dean’s forehead? I thought that was interesting – a carryover from a fight we didn’t see? Also interesting because it’s the same side of his head that gets wounded when Martin decks him later.
Anyway, Sam tells Dean that Martin is his source.
Dean: Crazy Martin? From the loony bin?!
Sam tells him that Martin was discharged last month.
Dean: Shouldn’t he be assembling toys in a padded room? What’s he doing back on the job?
Turns out, Sam asked him. Martin called Sam when he got out and wanted something that could ease him back into the game. He seemed ‘mostly okay,’ so…Sam told him to track Benny.
The look Dean gives Sam had enough heat and incredulity it forced Sam to look away and momentarily erased the look of self-righteousness from Sam’s expression. Which is good because 'smug' is not a good look on Sam.
Dean: You put ‘mostly okay’ Martin on Benny? What is ‘mostly okay’ doing hunting at all?!
He said it with the same disbelief and anger as someone might say you gave a Bowie knife to a two-year-old?
Sam says that he was very clear that Martin was to ‘observe and report’ only.
Dean: Wow. I can’t believe that.
Sam: Really?! Because Benny’s a vampire and any hunter worth his salt isn’t going to let one walk around freely.
Uh, that’s interesting, Sam. Seeing as how you abdicated for Lenore’s release, talking your brother into it, in fact. I mean, sure, you had more proof that she was a hippie vamp, but still – you’re a hunter, letting her walk around freely. That's one of the main things that pushes me toward the "jealous" perception with Sam. He was the first of the brothers to allow for humanity within a monster, and now he wants Benny dead, he says simply because he's a vamp. Uh-huh, sure. Also, that line about a hunter “worth his salt” had to have stung Dean a bit.
Sam: So, I had Martin keep tabs on him. And right now it’s looking like I made the right call.
Dean (still staring at his brother…and UNF): So, Martin’s saying that Benny did this.
Dean (nodding slowly, eyes unreadable): Okay.
Sam (totally buzzzahhh….): Okay?
Dean: If Benny’s in Louisiana draining folks, we should look into it.
There is this neat shot from the rear of the car, through the back window, as the boys regard each other. Clearly Sam thought Dean was going to resist more, and the fact that he didn’t, that he was in agreement that they needed to look into it, was part of the reason (I think) Sam calmed down enough to give him time.
They head to Louisiana, find Martin’s hotel – The Beaudelaire, I think – and before they can knock on his door, Martin opens it and starts talking.
Martin: You said look for an eruption? How’s Mt. Vesuvius?
The head into the room, looking around at Martin’s Benny Tracking Wall, and listen as he tells them that he got into town about a week ago and that up until last night, Benny’s been clean, minding his own business, working at the gumbo shack. He says that folks around here call him Roy.
Dean: Martin, you sure you’re running on a full charge?
Martin: Ha. A little shock therapy in the morning and I’m good to go.
I honestly couldn’t tell if he was serious or if he was mocking Dean. Dean gives Sam a well, this is just swell look as Martin talks about finding the dead body last night.
Dean: Did you actually see Benny kill the guy?
Martin: I saw enough.
Dean: How can you be sure it was Benny?
Martin stares at Dean like, that’s insane troll logic and starts spouting off about occam’s razor and keeping it simple. Dean’s not buying it. He glances at Sam.
Dean: That sound like the Benny you know?
Sam (deadpan): I don’t know Benny.
Dean’s expression shifts like, oh yeah, I forgot. That or he’s stung by Sam not taking the fact that Dean knows Benny as his knowing Benny, too.
Martin has started to get agitated and says to Sam, “Why am I getting the distinct impression that your brother is vouching for a vampire?”
Sam: Let’s not argue.
Dean: Nobody’s arguing, but if this is Benny – and that’s a big if – I got history with the guy. I’m not signing up for a witch hunt. I owe him more than that.
Sam is silently staring at Dean, poker faced.
Martin (with a WTF tone): What could a Winchester possibly owe a vampire?!
Well…they’ve owed demons and witches before…why not a vampire?
Dean (to Sam – basically talking over Martin): Until we get the facts, we work it right or we work it separately.
Martin: Doing it right would be removing his head from his shoulders.
Dean: I just need some time, Sammy.
*rubs heart* He pulls out the big guns when he says Sammy.
Martin is all aw, hell no. Sam is quiet, leaning against the wall, practically in the shadows, watching Dean.
Sam: How much time do you need?
Dean: Couple of hours, tops.
They’re talking to each other like Martin isn’t even there – I really liked that whole exchange.
Martin: What if it turns out to be Benny?
Dean (steely-eyed): Then it’s Benny, and I’ll deal with it.
Sam: Couple of hours. No more.
Dean: I’ll be in touch.
He leaves and Martin is coming unglued.
Martin: You’re joking. We’re doing this as soon as he pulls away.
Sam: No we’re not, Martin. We’re gonna give him some time.
*loves Sam for that*
Martin: Your brother, your call. It’s staring him right in the face, though.
Sam: Sometimes it’s not easy to see things for what they are.
Annnndd…we flashback to Sam sitting outside playing with Dog and Amelia coming out to sit next to him. They talk about what Amelia is going to say to Don.
Sam: He’s your husband, Amelia. But I don’t want to do the right thing. This is the right thing. You and me. Maybe I’m going to Hell for saying this (ha! Oh, the irony), but I’m not ready to give this up.
Amelia isn’t either and asks him if she could have some time to clear her head. Sam’s like, take whatever time you need.
Back in the now, Dean is walking into the gumbo shack and sits at the bar. Elizabeth walks by and hands him a menu, but he says he already knows what he wants.
Liz: Lemme guess. Gumbo?
Dean (smiles): Was going to be gumbo until I saw (points) pie.
She tells him the special is pecan and he smiles again. *melts* As she steps away, he sees a picture of Benny with Liz pinned to a bulletin board. She returns and tells him bad news, they’re out of pecan. He’s like story of my life. He tells her he’s looking for an old friend and describes Benny’s beat up camper. Liz laughs and says she thought she was the only one who gave ‘Roy’ a hard time about that.
Turns out, Benny/Roy just called her to say he was going up the road to Mill Creek for a few days, fishing. Says he’s been working doubles for the last two weeks straight, so he deserves a break. Dean reacts to the ‘fishing’ news and then writes down his phone number and asks Liz to have ‘Roy’ call him if he pops up.
Dean (smiling again – and this time it hits his eyes): Or…you could just drop a dime yourself.
Liz is all sure thing and watches him walk out, appreciating the view. Outside, Dean calls Benny, leaving him a voice mail about the body and says, “Do I need to tell you what this looks like?” Ta-WANG.
Elsewhere, Benny sees that he has a voicemail from Dean, but ignores it. Instead, he looks sadly at the body of a dead girl – her throat ripped open. Whoops. Next morning, Benny is digging a hole to bury the body and has he washes his hands in a cistern or tub of water, he sense someone behind him and straightens slowly, saying in a soft, sad voice, “Not me, Dean.”
Dean: Which ‘me’ are we talking about? Benny or Roy?
So, Sam gave Dean a couple of hours, and since we saw Benny looking at the 2nd body at night, and it’s now morning again, I figured Sam and Martin would be on the case already. Not so. But still.
Benny turns around and sees Dean standing there, his hands clasped behind his back. We see that he’s holding a big-ass knife.
Benny: I’m just trying to blend in.
Dean: Who’d you plant, Benny?
Benny just looks at him a moment and wow are his eyes blue. Yowza.
Benny: Victim number two. You’re concerned about the missing calls. I didn’t want you to get involved.
He’s moving slowly to his right and reaches out to slide his fingers carefully down the hilt of a machete.
Benny: You want to safety that thing? Talk a little bit, or what?
Dean kinda sighs and shifts to an ‘at ease’ stance, showing his knife, saying he’s all ears.
Benny tells him that it’s a rogue vamp named Desmond. He remembers Benny from the ‘good old days.’
Benny: I know it’s hard to believe, but I haven’t always been this cute and cuddly.
He tells Dean that Desmond is trying to roust him out because he wants to build a nest and was hoping Benny could give him some ‘cred. Benny told him no, so now Desmond is forcing the issue: two bodies in two days.
Benny: No amateur is going to kick me out of my hometown, Dean. Not this time.
Dean: Hometown? You grew up here?
Benny: Andreah’s gone and you’re hunting again. Seemed like the right time for a homecoming. You two have been the only ones who keep all my ducks in a row (*rubs heart*). I went back to my old job at the café. I even found someone to hold myself accountable to. Family.
Sidebar – that café has got to be one of the oldest businesses ever if he used to work there and he’s Liz’s great-granddad.
Dean (walking further into the camp area): Elizabeth.
Benny: My great-granddaughter.
Dean (his expression one of slight horror as he remembers hitting on her): Really.
Benny (hearing that expression in his friend’s tone): Hold it, now, you didn’t—
Dean (nervous laugh): No. Ha! No. Uh, no. Does she know?
Benny: No. As far as she’s concerned I’m just another drifter. Would like to keep it that way. Been tough walking the line. All those years in Purgatory, not having to deal with the hunger. But, Liz keeps me honest. I feel like I got a handle on this thing.
Dean: Benny, you got two stiffs on your hands and two hunters on your ass.
Benny (grinning humorlessly): Please, that half-wit at the café?
Dean: That half-wit was sent by my brother and trust me, my brother is not someone you want to mess with.
I loved that. In one sentence he shows respect for Sam, defends Sam, and protects Benny.
Benny says he doesn’t have time to deal with them anyway; he wants to deal with Desmond. Dean says that they have to convince Sam and Martin to go after Desmond instead; it’s the only way to prove Benny’s innocence. If they run into Benny out there, they aren’t going to care what he’s claiming to do – they’ll slice first and ask questions later. Benny’s doubtful that they’ll listen to Dean, but he lets him give it a shot.
Dean gets back to the hotel and finishes his story – Benny’s story. Unfortunately Martin calls bullshit on him.
Dean: Vamps pick people of on the outskirts of town. Not in the cafes they work in (to Sam) with their great-grandkids. It’s not his style.
Sam: Listen, Dean, we came here on a dead body. You asked for time and now there’s another dead body. We just going on trust here?
Dean (standing quietly for a moment, lips pressing tight as he thinks carefully about his answer): Yes.
Sam: Okay, because we’ve killed for a lot less.
Yes, but, they’ve also not killed for a lot less, too. Just saying.
Sam: And you know how these things turn out for us.
Dean: Yes, I do. Too well. In fact, every relationship I have ever had has gone to crap at some point. But one thing I can say about Benny - he has never let me down.
Sam (pissy): Well, good on you, Dean. Must feel great to finally find someone you can trust after all these years.
Y’know, I struggled with that statement. Sam took what Dean said personally – as if Dean were saying that he couldn’t trust Sam. And at first I took exception to that…but then, y’know? That’s probably what Dean did mean, even if it was subconsciously. He hasn’t been able to trust Sam fully their whole lives. So, just as Sam trusts Dean to a point, Dean also trusts Sam to a point. Both for good reasons.
And since that was another reminder how Benny hasn’t let Dean down (yet) and Sam has, Sam is like, I’m done being Mr. Understanding.
Dean (biting his lip and taking the hit of Sam’s retort): All I’m saying is that Benny is innocent.
Sam (shaking his head, decision made): No. You’re too close to this.
Dean: You’re not gonna find him. And if you do, I’m going to tell you this. You’ll be lucky to get out alive. (points to Martin) And you? You go with him? You’re a dead man. Period.
As Dean looks back at Sam, Martin sets his drink down and picks up his knife, blade down.
Sam: These are innocent lives we’re talking about here, Dean. And you’re willing to risk them on Benny’s word alone?
Martin moves around behind Dean as Dean focuses on his brother.
Dean: Damn right I am.
He seems to sense something behind him and half turns. Martin nails him with a sucker punch – using this knife hilt to add power to the punch. Dean drops like a rock, out cold.
Sam (shocked): What? Was that?
Martin: Dean made his choice. Let’s go do our job.
We see Sam walking out of the hotel room with Martin and the little voice in my head (I imagine it sounds like the one Magnum P.I. was always referring to) is saying, please tell me Sam at least made sure Dean was okay.
Martin (displaying an example of why I hate assumptions): I’m glad your dad wasn’t around to hear that. He’d have a mind to take you both out to the woodshed and show you what’s what. I'm half inclined to do it myself.
Sam (shoves Martin against a wall, and holds him there with his forearm): Listen to me. I brought you into this; I can bring you out just as easy. The only thing you’re gonna be inclined to do is shut up and follow my lead.
I kinda loved that, even though I was growling at Sam for letting another hunter knock his brother out and then leave him there.
Martin (playing the part of the Pot Stirrer): Okay, if you say so. Just saying, a brother who chooses a vampire over a brother? I know how I’d feel.
Oh, shut up, Martin.
Meanwhile, Sam’s flashing back to his time with Amelia and now he’s at a bar, presumably while he gives Amelia some time to think. Suddenly Don sits next to him and thus commences the moment I nominate for The Most Awkward Shared Drink.
Don: You’re Sam? Relax. I ain’t here to fight.
Sam (*gulp*): I heard about what happened to you. Rough deal.
Don: Appreciate that. Got ourselves a situation, don’t we? Can’t blame either of you. There were days I thought I was a dead man. And when I do come back, I come back to this. Part of me is thinking what’s wrong with this picture.
Well, dude, you just picked up and left your wife for a warzone in the first place. I kinda think your problems started long before you were reported dead.
Anyway, Don says he knows a part of Amelia loves him, but the only person who knows what’s best for Amelia is Amelia, so he’ll respect her decision, whatever it is. He asks Sam to do the same and Sam nods his agreement. As he’s leaving, Don puts money on the counter and orders Sam another drink saying, “He could use another.”
I liked him.
Back in the now, Dean is slumped against a wall, his head bleeding, his left wrist handcuffed to a radiator. He’s picking the lock with something metal – a paperclip, maybe? I’d like to think that Sam cuffed rather than tied him up him because he knew his brother would be able to get out of those. In my head canon, that’s how I’m playing this scene.
Dean gets up and calls Benny immediately, talking to his friend as he wipes blood off his forehead. He says they didn’t go for it and tells Benny to make himself scarce.
Benny: No offense, Dean, but your little brother doesn’t exactly put chills up my spine.
Dean: Do not underestimate my little brother. He can and will kill you given the chance.
I loved that because he so clearly knows Sam’s capability, and the last thing he wants is to deal with the moment Sam confronts Benny without him there. He’s afraid for both of them.
Dean tells Benny that they have to find Desmond and Benny says he knows where the rogue vamp is. He set him up, saying that 2 bodies was enough and he’d join his nest.
Benny: This is my fight. You in or are you out?
Elsewhere using what I presume is Martin’s station wagon to get there, Sam and Martin find Benny’s camp. Martin finds the pic of Benny and Liz and Sam gets a text from Amelia that simply says: Sam, I need your help. Come quick.
Dude, Sam? Drops everything. He doesn’t say a word to Martin, he just takes the guy’s car and heads to Kermit, leaving a fellow hunter standing alone in the middle of the woods presumably after a dangerous vamp. Now, I found this kind of hilarious in a way that he totally bailed on Martin. But, I also found it telling for two reasons: 1) he so obviously still loves Amelia and 2) he doesn’t think Benny is as big of a threat as he’s claiming because he left Loony Martin to deal with him.
Dean, in the Impala (Love. Her.) meets Benny somewhere like a factory or an old mill or a warehouse – it was dark, so it was really hard to tell. He gets into his trunk and unrolls a packet of syringes presumably filled with dead man’s blood.
Dean: What’s the plan? Me hang back while you guys do some trust falls and binge drinking?
Benny: If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you have an extremely low opinion of us vamps.
Dean: Call it a healthy skepticism.
So, they head inside, splitting up. Dean has a flashlight and I totally lost track of Benny almost immediately. I blame the plane turbulence.
As Dean’s looking around, a shadow darts behind him and he turns around and follows, but he’s totally jumped from behind, tossed across the room into a table, blocks a punch, is rattled, gets slammed to the floor…in short, Desmond is kicking his ass.
Desmond: Benny never told me he was bringing a friend.
Dean (grunting from the ground as he tries to hold Desmond off): You’re not gonna…talk a lot are you?
Dean struggles to get his syringe.
Dean: I’ve been dealing with crazy all day.
He tries to jab the syringe into Desmond, but Desmond catches his hand and crushes the syringe. Dean cries out in pain, then Desmond slashes his nails across Dean’s neck, cutting him and Dean grunts in pain again. Desmond licks off the blood and Dean is stunned, woozy. *tingles*
Just as it looks like Desmond is going in for more, Benny jumps him, hauls him up off of Dean, and cuts his head off. Dean rolls a bit to avoid being splattered by vamp blood. He’s gasping for breath as he says, “Son of a…. Took you long enough.”
He’s gingerly touching his cut net. Benny looks down at him.
Benny: You lost a step, friend.
He reaches down for Dean’s hand, hauls him up.
Benny: Need to lay off the junk food.
Dean groans a bit, gasping as he stands and clutches the cut on his neck, blood slipping through his fingers. Benny’s eyes zero in on Dean’s neck and he stares at it long and hard. It was a totally charged moment – I actually caught my breath, wondering what might happen next. Ty Olssen totally sold that, man.
Dean: You okay?
Benny: ‘M fine.
He sounds ragged, rough, and has to force himself to turn and walk away as if an invisible hand grabbed his shoulders. Yowza.
Later, they are standing outside a chain link fence. Benny is staring through it at his hometown, his eyes inexplicably sad. Dean walks up with a rag at his neck.
Benny: My life here is over, isn’t it?
Dean: ‘fraid so. Once word gets out…hunters will come for you. You can’t take ‘em all. It’s impossible. Even if you could….
Benny: We’d have a problem.
Dean: Guys like us…we don’t get a home. We don’t get family.
Oh, my heart. *rubs it*
Benny: You got Sam.
Dean (looks down, his face drawn, doubtful, sad): Yeah. Benny, you gotta go deep underground where nobody knows who you are.
Benny: Yeah. I got one last thing I gotta do.
Sam is in Martin’s car, trying to reach Amelia, gets an unavailable message and is all frustrated, so he just flashes back, because that’s the thing to do in such situations.
Sam is packing and Amelia walks in all, what are you doing? Sam tells her he wants to do the right thing and encourages her to give her husband a chance like she gave him a chance.
Sam: Amelia, you saved me.
Aww, Sam. Dude, even if your flashbacks are lame, this story of yours is hurting my heart for you. *sniff* I know, I know. I’m a sap. I like chick flicks, too. I cry every time I see The Notebook.
In the now, Benny is watching Liz at the gumbo shack.
Dean: Time to go, buddy.
Benny: Thanks for not giving up on me, brother.
Dean: Don’t give me a reason to.
Benny drives away and Dean waves. Then calls Martin. Because he knew Sam wouldn’t be with the loony hunter anymore and needed to make sure that everyone was off of Benny’s back. He tells Martin that the situation was solved and they ganked the bad guy. He tells Martin to lay off Benny and to find a new line of work. Turns out Martin isn't just loony, he’s also a lying liar who lies because he tells Dean he’s far away when in fact he’s at the gumbo shack.
The whole scene where Martin ‘borrows’ Liz’s cell phone to call Benny and lure him back by threatening Liz is totally creepy. Especially the way he grabs Liz’s wrist to keep her from taking his pie plate before he’s done with it. He made my skin crawl a bit. Benny can’t handle the idea of Liz in danger and turns around, heading back to the gumbo shack.
When he gets there, Martin has Liz tied to a chair in the dark, empty diner, and has a knife to her throat. Benny comes in, hands out at his side in an I come in peace posture, but Martin is all, drop your arms, you unholy creature!
Benny tells Martin to let Liz go and walk away.
Benny: You realize, I’m not askin’.
Liz, totally terrified, asks ‘Roy’ what’s going on, but Benny is focused on the man with the knife at her throat. He tells Martin that the bad guy is gone and he didn’t kill those people. That’s when we find out that Martin knows he and Dean spent time in Purgatory together and that he doesn’t care in the slightest.
Martin: She doesn’t know, Benny?
Liz (crying, scared): Who’s Benny?
Martin: Let’s find out.
He cuts Liz’s neck and starts calling out the changes in Benny he sees due to the scent of her blood. Benny has to turn his back, breathing hard, trying to reign in his fangs and control his blood lust.
Martin: He won’t feed off his own flesh and blood.
Martin tells Liz that Benny is her great-granddad and challenges Benny to tell her about the monster that he is. Benny is able to gain control of the vamp and his face crumbles, his shoulders bow, sorrow wrapping around him. He catches his breath and turns around slowly.
He asks Martin what he wants and Martin says he wants his head on a stake. Benny nods, goes to the counter, and puts his head down. He pins sad, blue eyes to Liz and says, “I’m sorry.”
Liz (crying): Oh, no. Roy, no.
Martin launches toward Benny and Liz screams out NO!
And we cut to Sam outside of Amelia’s house in Kermit. Erf. I was totally sitting all forward, holding the Kindle close to my face, and they cut!? Ack! *laugh*
Sam pulls his gun and hurries to a side window…and sees Amelia and Don on the couch, sharing a beer, watching TV…and totally okay. Sam returns to his car looking a bit shell shocked, and a lot sad.
Dean is in his car listening to Steve Earle’s “I Feel Alright” and singing along as he bounces his hands on the steering wheel. They picked a pretty clever song with that one. Check out these lyrics:
“I was born my papa’s son, a wanderin’ eye and a smoking gun. Now some of you would live through me, lock me up and throw away the key. Or just find a place to hide away, now that I’ll just go away. I feel alright tonight.”
Could apply to Dean, Benny, or Sam in this moment.
Dean’s phone rings. It’s Liz. She sounds shocked, shaken, scared. Said that she saw ‘him’ and, crying, tells Dean to, “Just come.” Dean pulls a u-turn and heads back to the gumbo shack. Liz is sitting outside, covered in blood. Dean checks on her, hands her a rag for her neck, then slowly goes inside.
As he’s surveying the destroyed diner, seeing the blood on the ground, my heart was pounding, hard. In my head, I was chanting please don’t be Benny, please don’t be Benny. It wasn’t. It was Martin. With his throat torn out. Leading me to immediately wonder exactly what had gone down, but glad that it wasn’t Benny who lay here, dead.
Sam is in Kermit at a bar. A country bar, of course. I mean, it is Texas. Restless Heart’s “Old Familiar Pain” is playing as he sips his beer, thinking. And then a lightbulb goes on. He pulls out the phone with Amelia’s text and calls the number. Elsewhere, in the Impala, Dean digs a phone out of the glove box. When he answers it, he says, “Sammy?”
Sam repeats the text from Amelia.
Sam: You got me good. When did you do that?
Dean: Awhile back. In case I needed it. Looks like I made the right call.
Ha – clever tossing Sam’s own words back at him.
Dean: Did you see her?
Sam: Yeah. She’s doing just fine. ‘Course, you know that.
Dean: Actually, I didn’t. I just knew it was the only way to get you to lay off.
Sam: So? Is it done?
Dean: Yeah. It’s done.
Sam: Any casualties?
Dean (pausing): Martin.
Sam: (closing his eyes): Was it Benny?
What a tough question to answer. Dean knew there was no way to win this one. Because Benny did kill Martin, so the answer was yes there, but Benny wasn’t the ‘bad guy’ they were after, so the answer there was no. Plus, Sam had to be beating himself up for 1) getting Martin involved in the first place and 2) leaving him high and dry to chase after Amelia.
Dean: He had it coming, Sam. I’ll tell you what happened.
Sam (totally unwilling to listen to anything Dean had to say): I know what happened, Dean.
Dean: You want to listen to me or not?
Sam hangs up. So…I take that as a no.
Dean (closing his phone): Dammit.
His face is fisted with worry, and for good reason. His friend has killed a human (who deserved it, yes, but still, it puts Benny in a precarious position) and is now suffering and missing, and his brother is far away in Kermit, Texas, facing up to his lost love and angry with Dean and with himself because of the outcome of this hunt. Dean tried to do the what he felt was thing and the weight of it is bowing him. He must feel so utterly, completely alone in this moment.
I know we’ve talked about his ‘friends’ – Benny and Cas – and how he has them and Sam has no one, but in actuality, the person Dean wants next to him (per his own words) to make him feel whole and happy is his brother. And he hasn’t had Sam really with him for more than a moment or two (primarily when Cas returned) since he got back from Purgatory. He’s been spending so much energy trying to find Kevin, the tablets, return to hunting, keeping those he cares about protected…and here he is, alone on an empty highway with no one next to him.
Oh, but my heart broke for him.
Back in Kermit, Sam pays for his drink, turns around…and gasps. It’s a shuddering gasp, one that shakes him right down to his heart. Amelia is standing there.
Amelia: I knew that was you.
Did she mean skulking around outside her window? Or was she in the bar and saw him from across the room?
Oh, Sammy. What are you going to do now? Can you face up to the choice you forced her into? Can you be honest with yourself – with her? Can you find your way back to your brother and repair your heart – for as much as you deny it, your family is your heart. Your brother is your solid ground. Nothing is going to be right in your life if that’s not right first.
So, now we wait. In a previous ramble I said it returned on January 9th, but it appears I was wrong and it’s not returning until Jan 16th. Which, while that means one more week to wait, works out better for me. *laughs* I have to head to Hong Kong and Tokyo the week of January 9th, so I would have been late yet again with a review. This way, I can see what happens right with you all. *smiles*
Thanks for reading – and for your patience with my delay in replying to your lovely comments. I look forward to your thoughts.