I swear there was a perfect storm of “how to prevent Gaelic from seeing the boys” around me this week. Starting with an all-nighter thanks to a work deadline on Tuesday night, coupled with an all-nighter to tend a sick Mo Chuisle on Wednesday night, and culminating in a visit from the parental units. I almost didn’t watch tonight. I was starting to feel certain there were demonic forces at work…
But… man was it good to see them. I'm sorry if this Ramble is shorter or feels hurried. It's no reflection on how much I enjoyed the show or seeing our boys. I'm just tired.
The previouslys made me think, once again, about the time between each episode for the boys. We never really know. I mean once in awhile we get a “for the last few weeks/days” kind of comment, but… seeing Jo and Ellen die again made me wonder how long the two of them have had to walk around with that weight and grief. Long enough, it seems, for Sam to consider voluntarily checking into a mental hospital to be a good idea.
As if getting put in jail on purpose wasn’t bad enough.
‘Course, jail was Dean’s idea and the nuthouse was Sam’s, so… maybe they’re even?
We’re in Ketchum, OK (which always makes me think Hal Ketchum which always makes me think country music which always makes me think cowboys…) at the Glenwood Springs Mental Hospital. Nice play on the epi title, writers. I love how they keep getting more and more clever with that. We see poor doomed Susie the schizophrenic who sees her dead son that burned up in a fire trying to convince the head doc that a monster prompted Annie’s, a fellow patient, suicide. Predictably, the doc declares emphatically that there is no such thing as monsters.
Just as predictably, Susie is the next to die—apparent suicide with wrists slashed after hearing noises in the vent and screaming for help while beating on the door. Because suicides usually scream for help just before slitting their wrists… silly doctors.
Next thing you know, our boys are sitting in front of the very same doctor. He’s reading from a chart that says they were referred to him by a Dr. Barbar out of Chicago, cleverly clueing in on the pseudonym.
Dean: “I…don’t own any elephant books.”
Dean calmly states that Sam is ‘cuckoo’ and Sam just as calmly replies that he’s not crazy…maybe a little depressed after starting the apocalypse. So…we’ve decided to go with the truth, have we boys? *grins* I love these guys. Dean tries to explain that it wasn’t Sam’s fault…he isn’t evil, you see, he was just high on demon blood!
Dean: “So could you fix him up so we can get back to traveling around the country hunting monsters?”
Heh. And total aside? Weirdly enough I used almost that same line in the last chapter of Wearing and Tearing.
After cancelling his lunch (eliciting a brotherly, reassuring arm pat from Dean to Sam), Dr. There’s No Such Thing As Monsters Fuller orders them to be kept for observation. A perky nurse leads them into a room for a check-up. Dean is first and, with eyes narrowed, calls her “Nurse Ratchet” and informs her that he’s seen Cuckoo’s Nest so don’t try anything sketchy. She replies “okey-dokey” and he quirks his head at that.
Me too, since we know from Nightshifter that a phrase like that usually makes the user okay in Dean’s book. Perky Nurse instantly went on my radar.
When the brothers next meet in the common room, complete with comfy slippers, v-neck T’s, and soft blue robes, they look less than happy.
D: “How was your Silkwood shower?”
S: “Great water pressure. Did the nurse…?”
D: “She was very thorough.”
Dean is Not Happy about being talked into this gig, and in a rapid fire of information we find out that they are there because Martin, a fellow hunter who saved John multiple times, called them. He was a good hunter, it seems, until Albuquerque. And here, I have to segue. Have any of you seen the Jeremy Piven comedy, The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard? If you have, you know why the repeated references to “what happened in Albuquerque” had me chuckling. *ahem* Sorry. Moving on!
We also find out that Sam is worried about Dean because he “always does this” with the stuffing of emotions and the not dealing with stuff. Sam tells him he can’t keep doing that; Dean’s all, “Watch me.”
Seriously, though, I wonder how the guy doesn’t have an ulcer.
They find Martin and after his face lights up, the first thing he says is, “You boys got big!” Awww… I can’t explain it, but that just totally endeared Martin to me. Hunter-breakdown or no hunter-breakdown. I did NOT want him to be a) the bad guy or b) dead by the end of the episode.
Martin doesn’t know what they’re dealing with, but one thing’s for sure, there’s no way he’s going to check out the dead bodies. Dr. Fuller summons them for group—using their alias’ Alex and Eddie (*LAUGH*!! Van Halen rocks!) but separates them saying that their relationship is dangerously co-dependent.
Yeah, well, when you’ve faced death daily (yours or your loved ones) all of your life and have been to Hell and back, you tend to want to keep those you have left as close as possible. Plus? Their lives depending on them knowing what the other is going to do before the other knows it. So…step off, doc!
We go to Group with Sam and Ted, a patient who witnessed poor Susie’s demise, is trying to convince everyone that a monster was after him. Fuller shuts him down with another “there’s no such thing as monsters” declaration…putting him on my radar.
Meanwhile, Dean is beating himself at checkers when a pretty female doc shows up to ‘chat.’ Dean immediately turns on the charm and she responds, “You must be my paranoid schizophrenic with narcissistic personality disorder and a religious psychosis.”
Hey, we all got problems, doc. Though, taken as a whole, she’s not completely wrong. However, living the life he has? It’s a wonder he can function at all. He tells her he has questions, she’s like, what a coincidence, so do I.
“Quid pro quo, Clarice,” Dean replies with an impressive Hannibal Lecture slurp.
She fires questions at him like, “How much do you sleep?” (3-4 hours, every couple of nights) “How much do you drink?” (50-ish drinks a week) “When’s the last time you were in a long-term relationship over 2 months?” (Never) Meanwhile, Dean’s asking about the suicides, if she’s noticed black smoke, cold spots, all the usual demon hunter stuff. He tells her he hunts demons and she comes back with, “Let’s talk about your father…”
Okay, that? Came out of nowhere. I mean, sure, usually you see psychiatrist blame issues of today on the damage of our past and our past is paved with the influence of our parents, but to hone in on his father seemed like she knew something about him. ‘Course, it could be written off as a male connection. Had Dean been female, she might’ve said, “Let’s talk about your mother.” But still. She went on the list.
So, Sam finds Dean as he’s coming out of session and Dean looks very troubled. Furrowed brow, pursed lips, eyes on the middle distance, the works. Sam asks him if he’s okay and Dean replies that he just got raped, so…no. He wants to get this done and get out of there. Place gives him the creeps. Out of nowhere a pretty girl walks up, plants a big ol’ kiss on Dean (who reciprocates), tells him her name is Wendy, and smacks his tush as she walks away. Dean rolls his lips in against his teeth as he watches her walk away.
S: “Dean. You cannot hit that.”
D: “Oh, so torn…”
Next thing you know, it’s between shifts and Sam has picked his way out of his room to meet Dean in the hallway; they’re on their way to Ted’s room to inquire about the monster. Just as they get there, though, Ted is being attached, dragged UP the length of the door. Sam starts to pick the lock. Dean is anxious to get in there and save him and tells Sam to hurry.
Sam snaps, “Back off, Dean!”
Hmm… Looking back, knowing what I know, that was really our first sign (IMO) that things were unraveling for them. Both a play-up of Sam’s rage and of Dean’s fear.
Ted…doesn’t make it. So, since Glenwood Springs is apparently the least secure mental hospital in all of OK (and quite possibly the US), the boys make their way down to the morgue. They pull out the try with Ted’s body on it and Sam finds a hole at the base of Ted’s scull which he proceeds to put a swab in up to the dude’s brain. UCK. He wants to find out why, so Dean gladly keeps watch outside while Sam, channeling his inner M.E., cuts off the top of the dude’s head and pulls out a blackened, sucked-dry brain.
Dean comes back in and tells him to put the dude’s head back together because someone’s coming. They put Ted away and clean up just as Perky Nurse walks in, inquiring what they’re doing there. They hesitate, looking awkward, and I tell you, I was NOT sure what they were going to do/say to get out of this one. Seriously. No, seriously.
Dean suddenly drops trow, does a little jig thing and in a voice of a five year old hollers, “Pudding!” What. The. Hell?? *BWAH!* Well, he did say he’d seen Cuckoo’s Nest. Oh, boys.
They find Martin, who has John Wayne Gacey-worthy pictures of clowns that he’s drawn taped up to his wall. They’re telling him what they found when they cut open Ted’s head. Martin shows them a freaky sketch and tells them that he thinks they’re hunting a wraith. Which, made me laugh because while the lore was different, I’d used that baddie before. Apparently silver kills it, they can pass as humans, and it will show its true form in a mirror.
They suck out the brains, so a mental hospital? Perfect hunting ground. For the wraith, anyway. Not so much for our hunters.
A little while later, Dean’s leaning against a wall, looking up in one of the security mirrors at the people and the Pretty Doc shows up. She wants to know why he has to be the one to hunt monsters; why can’t someone else do it?
It was a question we know Dean has wondered before when his life has knocked him around one too many times. It’s a question he asked at his father’s grave in the dijinn’s reality. And the answer then was the same as the one he gave her: it’s his job.
However, before he replied, there’s an awesome profile shot as he’s contemplating the question. It catches his physical beauty: the jaw, the lips, the lashes all illuminated a bit in the odd lighting of the hospital set and giving him an almost ethereal look. And it catches the character beauty: resolute determination chased by profound weariness.
I had to freeze my TV for a moment. Apieceofcake? If you’re reading? GREAT banner shot there…
The ensuing conversation twisted my gut a little to hear as I watched my hero struggle with his truth.
D: “It’s my job. Someone has to save people’s assess, including yours.”
Doc: “Is there a quota? How many people do you have to save?”
D: “All of them. It’s the end of the world and if I don’t stop it, then no one will and we all die.”
Doc: “Monsters or no monsters, what a crushing weight to have on your shoulders…how do you get up in the morning?”
D: (with eyes large and jaw muscle bunching) “Good question.”
Now here, for just a moment, I thought I had it solved. I thought she was the wraith and had somehow fooled the mirror. Either that or she had the hotts for Dean. Because who thinks to ask those questions? The very questions that get to the heart of his personal fears, his weariness, his weakness? The questions that he secretly asks himself?
Oh, clever, clever writers. How I love thee.
As Dean is struggling with the inner demons Pretty Doc has unleashed in his gut, Dr. Fuller strolls by and Dean sees his face in the mirror. It’s like a modernized version of the ‘host’ from Tales from the Crypt. It’s a face eaten by leprosy. Hideous and frightening. Dr. There’s No Such Thing As Monster was the wraith!!
SO, taking full advantage of the minimum security in the hospital, Sam manages to find three silver-plated letter openers and he, Dean, and Martin have a confab in the hallway making their plans to kill the wraith. In middle of this, Wendy the Nympho comes up, plants a wet one on Sam who sheepishly shrugs as he kisses her back while Dean looks on in mild disgust mixed with mild interest.
“I want him now. He’s larger.” Oh, Wendy. You fickle thing. *is laughing*
Dean simply shrugs and informs his brother that he’s had worse. Martin, meanwhile, is busy balking at the thought of actually participating in this hunt he started. He can’t, you see. Not after what happened in Albuquerque. He said he used to be like them—thought he was invincible. Then he found out he wasn’t. Thing is? I actually feel for him. It’s like a regular guy trying to fight alongside superheroes. Both Dean and Sam have been dead and returned to life through extraordinary, supernatural means. Even if you didn’t know that, you’d get the sense that they felt special.
So…Martin elects to stay at the Hotel California and the boys split up. Sam runs into Fuller and attacks, cutting the doc’s arm. Orderlies pulls Sam off and the boy WAILS on them—shoving one man’s head through a window. *YIPE!* He continues after Fuller and the only thing that stops him from killing the doc is Martin jumping on Sam, pulling his arm back and pointing out that the cut on the doc’s arm wasn’t burning.
Wrong guy. WHOOPS!
Sam has to work hard to get a grip on himself. They put him back in his room, drugged to the gills. Dean works his way in and find Sam, asking worriedly if his brother is alright.
S: “No, I’m not okay…I’m…awesome.”
Dean says that Sam always was a happy drunk…which isn’t exactly true. In Playthings, Sam was downright morose and melancholy, asking his brother to promise to kill him. Anyway, Dean’s like, my bad, I picked the wrong guy and Sam proposes that Dean may in fact actually be crazy.
S: “You’ve been half crazy for a long time and since you came back from Hell…maybe you’ve finally cracked.”
Dean does this downward glance/wince thing that’s part “whatever, dude” and part “maybe you’re right.” Makes my heart pang a bit. He tells Sam that he just made a mistake and Sam grabs him clumsily and says, “It’s okay, hey, look at me. It’s okay. ‘Cause you’re my brother and I still love you.” Then he tweaks Dean’s nose, grinning like a full-on five year old.
Dean’s storming down the hall away from Sam’s room and Pretty Doc shows up. There’s an orderly watching them who pays special attention when Dean snaps, “I’m fine” at Pretty Doc. She tells him he’s not fine and that the pressure and guilt is killing him and he can’t save everyone. Then suddenly, revealing it mere seconds after I finally figured it out for myself (the orderly tipped me off), she goes all personal truth on him, calls him Dean and lays out all of the things only Dean would see as failings:
- He “got” Jo and Ellen killed
- He couldn’t ‘gank’ Lucifer
- He couldn’t stop Sam from killing Lilith
- He broke the first seal
She tells him that the world is going to end bloody and there’s nothing he could do about it. How does she know all this? Because she isn’t real. SHE’S IN HIS HEAD!! Dean’s eyes go wide and wet and he kinda staggers at this realization. He’s actually going crazy. He’s seeing things—seeing monsters. He stumbles down the hall, hip deep in a full-on freak-out. Staggering against a wall, he sees faces in the mirrors turn to monsters, wraiths. He makes his way to a door but doesn’t have the strength to open it, ending up slumping in a corner, trembling and near tears.
Sam, meanwhile, is in time-out in a solitary room. Dr. Fuller checks on him and Sam apologizes, says he had a moment of clarity and he realizes there’s no such thing as monsters. Dr. Fuller’s like, that’s cool, but your anger is gonna get the best of you. He says Sam was like ‘a man possessed’ when he went after him and if there’s one more outburst like that, he’s transferring him to a place that handles violent patients. Yipe!
Sam’s like, okay, I promise, goes out to the common room, and suddenly everyone—including (he thinks) his brother is calling him a freak and saying he’s a monster and he just starts swinging. ‘Course, he’s swinging at nothing, so the orderlies take him down and away while Dean looks on cowering and shaking in a corner. He doesn’t stay down long, though, our boy. Dean may be a victim of his own fear of going crazy, of the life he’s led getting to him and taking away his last semblance of control, but he’s still Dean. He’s still a hunter. And his instincts are on rapid-fire alert. He goes and wakes up Martin, sweating his way through a proposed solution. Crazy is the key.
He stutters and stammers, figuring out that the only way he and Sam would both lose it on the same day is if they were infected—by a touch or venom or…saliva! He instantly goes to Wendy…but…that was too easy. Dean and Martin head to Wendy’s room (which…how they all know each other’s rooms is a puzzle, but oh well) and get there just in time to see Perky Nurse retract a pokey thing from Wendy’s skull. The girl’s wrists are cut and she’s bleeding all over the bed.
I pumped my fist in the air when I saw it was Perky Nurse. I knew it! ‘Course…I’d also been sure it was two other people, but she’d been on my list! Dean’s not sure if what he’s seeing is real, but when the Wraith starts the beat down, he learns quickly. She wails on him, too. Martin cuts the wraith and goes to Wendy as the Wraith escapes. Wendy’s still alive and Martin barks an order—in a very John Winchester-like voice—to go after it. Dean’s groggy and dizzy. He can’t focus and everything is too bright and sharp.
He says at first that he can’t, but then pulls it together enough to stagger down the hall after Perky Nurse.
Sam, poor guy, is missing out on all of this because he’s strapped down on a bed (which had to be sending him back to that panic room) in a padded cell. Perky Nurse steps in and Sam demands she let him go. He sees her horrific reflection in the mirror and is all, “It’s you!”
She monologues for a bit about yummy crazy brains, and reveals that she doesn’t make the crazy…she just cranks up (through touch) what’s already there.
So, we know Sam has had an issue with rage; the demon blood brought to the surface what he already had simmering. And Dean having to deal with the fear of not being enough—falling victim to the monsters he hunts, not saving the people he’s supposed to save, not doing his job—shines a light on why he fell victim to the ghost sickness in Yellow Fever and Sam didn’t. They may be each others’ Achilles Heel, but they have their own weaknesses to constantly, constantly overcome.
I love how human that makes them. How tangible. Though compared to Martin they may seem superhuman, they are broken just like everyone else. And, ultimately? I think it’s this human quality, the fact that nothing comes easy, and they pay a secret price every day the make it out alive, that’s going to give them the edge over evil in the end.
Anyway, back to Sam. Just as she’s about to stick the pokey thing in him, Dean staggers in and says in a rough-edged, shaking voice, “You get away from him.” YAY!! That’s my boy! The wraith smirks and says, “You think this is going to end well?” Dean’s like, “No, but I’m crazy, so what the hell.”
She wails on him some more, pinning him to the wall by the throat and releasing the pokey thing right at his forehead. Dean, coughing, choking, reaches up with a shaking hand and breaks off the pokey thing. The wraith screams in pain, blood spewing from the broken end of the pokey thing. Dean gags slightly, then grabs the letter opener and stabs the wraith, who slides down the wall in a steamy, not-so –perky dead blob.
Dean’s vision wavers and then steadies. He takes a breath then turns to his brother. Sam looks at him and in a voice that I swear came from the mouth of a twelve-year-old asks, “You still crazy?” Dean releases his straps with a “No more than usual,” and before there can be much “thanks for saving my life” stuff, an alarm sounds.
The boys are running out of the least secure mental hospital in the US—their blue robes flapping—sans Martin. They make it to the Impala, which was parked on a road near the hospital. Dean’s ready for a drink…or twelve…but Sam skids to a stop just before getting in. He says that the wraith was right: he’s angry all the time. He used to be angry at Dean and John, and then at Ruby and Lilith…he makes excuses, but…basically he’s mad all the time and he doesn’t know why.
Really, Sam? You don’t? Because I think if my mom were killed in my nursery and I was violated at 6 months with demon blood and my big brother’s childhood was taken from him and I watched him carve out a hole inside himself to hide while he became a soldier and my Dad turned numb to the world and to his sons except in extreme situations and I spent my life without any roots or any one place to call home and the first time I found solace it was taken from me violently and I was killed and forced to kill just to survive and I lost my brother in a bloody Hellhound attack and was told that ‘it had to be me’ that went evil and that my brother might have to kill me and that I was to be Lucifer’s vessel without any choice or opinion or viable way to change any of it…I might be mad, too.
Dean rounds on him with a big, “So what? What are you gonna do? You gonna say yes to Lucifer? What?”
Sam pulls in on himself with a, “No, of course not.”
D: “Exactly. You’re going to take all that crap and you’re gonna bury it ‘cause that’s how we keep going…that’s how we don’t end up like Martin. Are you with me?”
Sam pauses just long enough for a slice of true fear to cut through Dean’s eyes and he repeats, “Are you with me?”
Sam says softly, “I’m with you.”
And they get in the Impala, blue robes and all, and head down the road.
WOW. Gone eight weeks and the MotW episode really dug into us! I don’t know where they’re going to end up, but I can promise you this: I’ll be watching when they get there. Because anger or no anger, fear or no fear, crazy or sane, these guys are the real deal.
Thanks for reading!