Oh Show, could you be more obvious…?
The answer = NO!
I came off the episode laughing like a loon - eye rolling and saying…"really show? You think we need to be blatantly told
what's going on between Sam and Dean?"
Then I thought, actually… YES WE DO! And thank you in fact.
I really enjoyed this episode. I sit down to watch each episode with absolute dread. With the boys at odds with each other I wonder what they're going to do to make things worse (or make Sam even more of a "bad" brother).
I was relieved that things seemed to actually progress and the tension between them was more understandable (still sad but with a WHOLE episode devoted to the current situation between them, I'm pretty satisfied).
Aside from the extremely
heavy handed parallels there was a lot to enjoy in this one.
The opener was scary (actually scary!!) and I like the mystery of what the MoTW could be. The Ghostfacers were fun (I've always enjoyed them actually) and I'm glad they kept them in character (even as AU Sam and Dean). There were some funny lines and some nice outsider POVs of the boys (I love hearing how terrified others are of Sam and Dean).
So. Sam and Dean (ha! didn't take me long to get here). It's weird that an episode that featured two other characters so heavily was basically one full episode of Sam and Dean stuff.
(\o/) And isn't is interesting that they chose to tell their story through other characters? I know it came across as ridiculously anvillious (sp?) but I actually think it was an interesting choice to blatantly show us their story through Ed and Harry's story. We can't be objective when we watch Sam and Dean - we are too attached to them (and usually have strong alliances to one or the other) so we can't step back and look at what they are going through with a clear understanding.
I think this was an attempt for the Show to actually tell
us what the major issues are (for them - the Show). Did we need them to do that? Considering all the in fighting in fandom, probably. Did them treating us like..um..children help us to get a clearer picture? Personally, I would rather they didn't (I prefer subtle storytelling) but I am somewhat grateful that they did.
There's been many discussiosn/arguments about the Winchesters current situation and I think this is mainly due to it all being a little too subtle. Or rather, ambiguous. Much has been left open to interpretation. And boy, interpretations have differed wildly. Which I think is ok, but for the Show I think they needed to get it all back to the issues at hand (for them - not us).
And it's pretty simple. If we assume Dean is Ed and Sam is Harry the story was laid out for us. Ed was clinging onto something that he holds very dear (a great friendship/partnership and an exciting, meaningful life) and when he realised he was going to lose Harry he tricked him into staying by creating Thinman. Harry was off to seek a "normal" life with his girlfriend but Ed convinced him to stay. And Ed stayed. Even though he was pining for his girlfriend he got back into the life with new vigour and enthusiasm. The partnership clearly meant a lot to Harry also. Then he discovered he'd been lied to by his best friend, he lost trust in him and his world fell apart. Ed realises he's about to lose Harry and his world starts to crumble also.
I didn't feel like they were being particularly judgemental of Ed and Harry (and thus Sam and Dean). Ed came clean (through his guilt and concern for Harry) and we could see how much the partnership meant to him. Harry felt betrayed and hurt because he discovered his friend's lie. I admit, Harry's story hit me harder because I don't believe that killing people or lying about something makes for a strong relationship. I could see where Ed was coming from though (especially when comparing him to Dean), but I felt it made Harry more sympathetic (or is that just me? Dammit, I hope not).
This is possibly the closest we are going to get to Sam's pov. We've had to see it through Harry's story - but at least we've seen it. And what I got from that is that it's the secret
that's hurt him the most. Not the non-con possession (and as much some of us would like this to be a major issue, it's not been the Show's concern from the get-go), not that Dean made a choice for him, not that Sam wanted to die and Dean should have let him (which I don't believe actually), not that Sam is ungrateful for what Dean did or that he doesn't want to have a brotherhood. It's that Dean tricked him and he kept it secret. And before you all yell at me that that makes Sam's hypocritical (hello Ruby), it surely has to be about what Sam has learned from keeping that secret. And yes, there are all those other issues as well, but I think what Show tried to do is show us why
Sam is so pissed (not that we needed that but, yeah, clearly we did).
Something that was extraordinarily clear to me was how much the brotherhood means to Sam. He desperately doesn't want to be in this situation (he looked so gaunt and stressed) - and if Harry is Sam we could see how gutted he was by the whole situation. He desperately wants to forgive but, as he says, there are just some things that are hard to forgive. I was once asked why Sam stayed with Dean. What's in it for him? I believe it's because he knows how wonderful their brotherhood is (loved that childhood memory moment!) and doesn't want to lose that. He knows what a good team they make. I saw a post that mentioned that even soulless!Sam knew that being with Dean was the right place to be. But he still needs something from Dean. Dean, just like Ed, can't see that certain things (like keeping major secretes and killing people) don't make for a strong relationship.
Carver is still hung up on Sam wanting a normal life (even though he given that up a few times) and hung up on Dean not being able to let go of Sam (of which he did at the end of S5). As much as we've been through all this before, I am prepared to go for this ride because it might mean them reaching a long lasting reconciliation. And this seems to continue the Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean. :)
And now for the (probably) unpopular opinion. *ducks*
As I mentioned in a meta I wrote recently, because Dean represents family and the desire to have this partnership (no matter the cost) we sympathise with him. I think much of the S9 storyline is about Dean's emotional growth. I know that many don't think that Dean has much to change (he's the mighty hero and best brother) but he really does. I know it kills us to think that the very thing that is being questioned here is Dean's need
for Sam. His need
for family (The "then" ended on Sam's "you did it for yourself" -that was there to highlight this issue). But just like Ed, who also had that need, it leads him to make dubious (even wrong) decisions. We don't want that co-dependence to be questioned (it's what the show is all about!!), but I actually think that's what they are doing. They are digging deep into what makes Dean tick and if they get this right it could end up being really interesting. I don't think it means we'll have a brotherhood that is less passionate than we've seen before (or even less co-dependent). But it should make for a stronger, more even relationship. One that doesn't end up completely tearing each other apart.
I feared that they were going to make Sam being pissed off with Dean the catalyst for him going dark side. It still might be part of it but I think it will be more about Dean looking inward and seeing things in himself that will be the trigger (and possibly the Mark).
It was curious how easily Dean killed that guy. Slid the knife in so coldly. In the past they've talked about not killing people - it's where they draw the line (aside from meat suits obviously!), but Dean seemed to have no concerns about that this time. It makes me wonder if this is a sign he's going dark side, or if this is just part of Dean's character. We know he's a killer, but it's usually done with a little more torment than that. Dean was very threatening to the Ghostfacers and not willing to listen to Sam's ideas because he didn't want to think they'd be involved. Dean remained stubborn due to his feelings about them.
And Sam didn't push him - just waited patiently for him to come to the conclusion for himself. And I liked how Sam looked like he was going to call Dean on killing that guy, but held back. For everybody who says that Sam deliberately hurts Dean there was a lot of evidence tonight of how much he doesn't want to. And to those who think Sam doesn't care about him - did you see the panic when Thinman was going to kill him?! It's not gone people…
I think the most positive thing about this episode is that whereas Harry walked away from Ed, Sam didn't walk away from Dean. He hasn't. Sam and Dean were told last week by Kevin that they are both alive and need to work their shit out. This week Harry talks about not growing old with the person you thought you'd always be with and BOTH brothers are pained by that. They know that's what is at stake here. The fact that Sam is talking about forgiveness and that Dean is hearing Sam mention how damaging secrets are has to be a step forward.
I no longer see Sam being angry. He's just sad now and more wistful about where they've come. Dean is deeply troubled - which I think is a mix of how Sam has reacted to finding out about Gadreel and Kevin's death.
There's so much more to dig into re the Ed and Harry and Sam and Dean parallels. They were like lead weights being dropped throughout the show, but as the episode had a kind of Scooby-Doo feel about it, maybe it was all part of the plan.
No doubt, the Ed and Harry stuff will be open to interpretation also, but I felt that it was much clearer than anything we've had so far about where the boys are at (or am I going to find out that everyone thinks Harry is a douche and should instantly forgive Ed because he tricked him because he loves having him around do much?).
And finally. Any ep that has bound and gagged boys is gonna be a winner in my books. Just saying…;)