And I don't mean that in a negative way. ;D
Stan: It won't last. You are living in a dream world.
Amelia: I like it here. I like this house. I like Sam.
Stan: Sam is a mess.
Amelia: I'm a mess.....Please. Let us be messes together.
I can't decide if the structure and style of that episode was a mess because of that section of dialogue or because it was just, er...messy.
Let's go with it being messy because that is exactly what this episode was all about. Characters being in a mess. That and the perception of reality.
I consider it a "mess" because it seemed all over the place. It was comedic and dramatic and a little fan-servicey. It was a friggin stir fry of STUFF! The pacing was also weird. But ultimately I found it satisfying because it addressed some of the overall story arc and there were some moments of pure gold.
This show isn't made for the casual viewer is it? (Why I even consider that I don't know...)
It was an episode that embraced the cartoon form and, in someways, was a cartoon and yet explored both Cas and Sam's inner turmoils so was, at the same time, a drama.
No wonder I was left feeling discombobulated. Supernatural is good at doing that.
There were many things I loved, some I puzzled over and some bits I yawned at (but those are purely personal so I'm not going to even address those...)
I have to start by addressing Sam's "dream" world because that was such a revelation and also quite the sucker punch.
After much speculating I think we've finally been given a major part of the puzzle about those flashbacks. There's been a question about whether they are real or not. Personally, I think they are real. I think they've had that dream like quality (soft focus, high saturation) because it's exactly that - a "dream world" that Sam tried to bury himself in. A place that he desperately wanted and needed but in reality it was probably more of a nightmare. Sure, it had ideal moments - picnics in the park, a dog, a house, a gal but really it was a place Sam didn't fit. I really loved how he was filmed in those flashbacks. He looked so big and awkward. They don't usually show Sam as abnormally tall as he is. They didn't shoot around that in these scenes. They made him really standout.
And how awkward were those scenes?! I wanted to leap in there are take Sam away from it all. But they were perfect because it was about seeing the reality. Seeing how out of place Sam was in that world. He was trying so hard to make it work (the fake laughing and the forced smiles almost killed me) but it was never right.
No wonder Sam stayed by Dean's side when he was first talking about not wanting to hunt in episode one. Sam fits into the world when he is hunting and being next to Dean. It's where he belongs and he's beginning to see that in the way that we are. I think it's also why Amelia isn't an easily likeable, clinched "nice" girl. She's troubled and not at all perfect (loved the spaghetti and hotdog dish.../o\). And the same with her father. This "normal" isn't particularly nice or comfortable. It's just real.
I think the flashbacks in this episode gave us more evidence of his world "imploding" and the state of Sam's mind.
I'm sure you've all seen this gif by now:
It's a brilliant moment and I do ponder the significance. I can't tell if this is a deliberate indication that his flashbacks are in his head and never really happened (Lucifer or "other" induced maybe?) or if it's a brilliantly subtle gesture that shows how Sam is feeling at this moment. Personally I think it's the latter. I wouldn't be surprised if Jared himself put that in. It tells us that Sam either feels like he's living in some sort of unreal nightmare or that he needs to ground himself. He's in emotional turmoil and thus turns to the thing that helped in the past. His stone number one. *sniff* IT'S SO FRIGGIN' SAD!!! I FELT SO MUCH PAIN FOR SAM DURING ALL THESE SCENES. WHAT A MESS! /o\ BUT I LOVED IT!
I wonder if it's shortly after this point that Sam left Amelia to head for the cabin as we saw in episode one? He seems to have come to the realisation that he was running away from something (looking for Dean, hunting) and so headed to the cabin to perhaps start on that. Maybe Don being revealed being alive gave Sam the motivation to (finally!) make a start. Though I had the feeling he had lived in that house with her for a while. Hmmmm....difficult to say. The timeline of Sam's year is confusing.
If it turns out that Sam's memories (or anything during that year) have been manipulated it might actually blow my mind. I'm pretty sure it's mostly Sam remembering things the way he wanted to but now he's recalling things as they really were. Again with the perception.
Now to the other stuff (hee...yes. There was other stuff, but I was pretty overwhelmed with all the flashbacks I admit).
In many ways Cas resembled this actual episode because he was both the comic (cartoon) character and the serious (dramatic) character. He lived in the unrealistic world of the hunter (where he didn't really fit) and the very real human world - where he has emotion and remorse. Cas is a mess also and liked the way that mirrored Sam. I wonder if that mix of comic and serious was deliberate to show us how Cas is having trouble "fitting" in. I think I suffered whiplash watching him go from comic "bad cop" to him contemplating suicide. I suppose it's very Castiel though - a mix of characteristics and his search to fit in.
He, like Sam, is also running away. Sam ran away from hunting and looking for Dean and Cas is running away from Heaven and facing what he did there. It's interesting that at the end Cas was ready to return to heaven but was thwarted by a higher power. It looked like Sam was ready to face up to what he needs to do also - I wonder if he was somehow thwarted also? Hard to know at the moment. I think there is still more to be revealed. (see...told ya it was a mess! A good mess though).
It took a while to get the point about the cartoon MoTW. Initially I was a little worried because Show continues to make light of death. Deaths became comedy and it made me squirm a bit. Of course, by the end I could see the relevance and actually it was pretty darn clever. It was a massive anvil of course (particularly taking Sam and Cas into Fred's head so they could talk about reality) but the fact that they literally dropped anvils made it totally acceptable and hilarious.
Of all the cartoon moments it was the exploding cake that well, took the cake. Show loves the blood splatters - it's become a signature. I love the way they played with that by making the cake look like blood and guts splatter. I thought it WAS blood and guts and thought they had gone too far. I thought to myself...if they don't take these deaths seriously now I am turing this off! Instead it was cake and therefore clever. :))
I loved how many times Sam smiled at Dean's quips. There's definitely growing sense of being comfortable together again. I'm not sure what to make of that yet because I think there's still so much under the surface. I'm still struggling with them not addressing that big possessed!Dean rant, but it looks like I have to just accept it as it is. Maybe it will surface again later.
I didn't even really mind Cas hunting with them (shock! I know!). I wouldn't want that to be a permanent arrangement but I liked the way the addressed having "a third wheel". And yay fighting over the front seat and braiding Sam's hair etc. There were some classic one liners that's for sure.
I think the idea of a cartoon world, with cartoon deaths was very cool. Maybe not as deftly handled as it could have been but nevertheless quirky enough to be interesting.
Seeing Mike Farrell as Fred (BJ from MASH) looking so old was weird (made me feel extra old!) I wondered what had happened to him. Nice to see him turn up in my show. :)
Also.... SAM'S HAIR!! OMG! *swoon*
And were they both sporting matching stubble in that one? Hee...
Overall it was very satisfying. Weird, but satisfying. Getting more of Sam's story was great and I like the way they have been teasing it out. It's interesting that Dean seems to be rather well adjusted at the moment. I'm not sure if it's because the focus is off of him (like Sam in previous episodes) and so they are not showing it to us or whether Dean has genuinely moved on. Cas being alive might indeed be what he needed to lift some of his angst.
I am sure there's heaps more to come on that. I can't wait!
Geek moment: I do need to mention that there was a HEAP of prop re-use in that episode. I am particularly fascinated by the, um, teardrop shaped art work. The top one is a martini glass and the bottom one is a lighthouse (I think!). Looks like they picked up a few classic pieces from... somewhere. Hee...so kitsch. I rather love 'em.
The painting is from Blood Brother (and from Slash Fiction), the bulb lamp is from Blood Brother (and from Yellow Fever), the bed head is from so many eps I can't list them all and the bedspreads... man, they look familiar but I can't place them (?). They are similar to the ones in Changing Channels, but not the same. /geek