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just enough to make us dangerous
9.12 episode review (and a wee pinch of rantiness) 
29th-Jan-2014 04:51 pm
KILLER WINK!


I was a little restless watching that episode. I was surprised how easily Sam slipped back into hunting with Dean kept wondering if this will be it. The episode seemed to be geared toward exploring Dean's issues - family and finding love where you can etc, but I was itching to see if Sam was actually going to get a voice. He was merrily just going along for the ride and I was thinking…what the hell?!

Thank goodness for the last 5 minutes. This may have been a seriously ranty post if Sam hadn't been allowed to say something.

(the only ranting I will do is not understanding some comments around the place about Sam giving Dean shit at the end. If anything Sam didn't give Dean enough shit. I actually thought Sam's restraint showed his maturity. He's not going to let Dean off easily for what he did and so he shouldn't. I know some people will never see anything Sam does as good enough but surely this is one thing they can sympathise with him on. I just don't get why Sam is considered to be in the wrong here. Why isn't Sam ever allowed to be pissed at Dean? I seriously don't get it. /end rant).

I was disappointed about the lack of Sam but I read a tweet that he was "off making babies". I assume that meant Gen was having their baby. Totally acceptable. At least we got some Sam.

I've always liked Garth (love how fundamentally different he is to any other hunters) and this ep was ok. Nothing startling, but after those epic first 2 episodes we probably needed a breather. It was heavy handed and there was a lot of repetition about family and monsters and love etc and I have to confess I wasn't always engaged. Actually, it felt like there was a lot of padding. Dialogue that didn't achieve a lot - maybe they had to change things around if Jared had to leave. At the end of the day it was a solid enough filler though.

I'm glad Garth didn't die. It feels like they've put him aside for a while, but at least they can go back to him later if the want to.

I enjoyed the fact that it wasn't myth arc heavy (only so much this gal can take of the demons and angels) so the werewolves made a nice change. I didn't spend much time working it all out (felt like I slipped into Teen Wolf there for a minute), I let it wash over me pretty much (mostly waiting to see if we were going to get a heart to heart at the end).

Dean was scruffy and surly and generally feeling rotten about everything (love that the dark quality from last week was still lingering). I kept thinking why is his angst only about the guilt he feels over Kevin? What about the bigger picture surrounding how that happened and maybe even consideration for how Sam must be feeling knowing it was his body doing the killing. I'm not sure the end fully addressed that, but a least Sam had a chance to bring it up. Maybe Dean will get it one day (though I'm not convinced the writers think what he did was much of an issue, so maybe not…). I did like that Dean ATTEMPTED to say sorry - it was on the tip of his tongue! It was typical Dean that he couldn't actually get it out. But the sentiment was there. I also liked that he tried the "we are family" as a cure all and Sam just didn't accept that this time. Though perhaps Dean's "took a piece of you" was an acknowledgement of the toll the possession took on Sam.

And sharing the crappiness? I did like that a lot.

I took Sam's "terms" to mean that they can work together but the trust that existed between them won't be there like it has been before. It might even mean that Sam will speak up more if Dean chooses to do something that Sam doesn't agree with. They'll never stop being brothers, but much of what is taken for granted in brotherhood might not be there for a while. Clearly Sam still cares very deeply for Dean - that will never change. (His "be careful" to Dean was a nice bit of dialogue to cement that the care still there).

I found Sam's comment about them being different in their approach to the job now a little strange. I've always felt that they were different and that's why they work together so well. They compliment each other. Maybe the difference is much greater than it used to be.

I've never really had a problem with Sam in peril but even I'm thinking we've seen it too much now. That man's head must be mush! At least he was involved (a little bit) in the "saving the day" moment. Though, poor guy being bored to death with the monologuing...

What the hell is it about the villain monologue? Could she have taken any longer to actually kill someone?! I wanted Dean to get there just so she would shut up! (this scene felt padded also…)

I like their uneasy alliance. They had to come back together somehow - they were never going to keep them apart for long - so a kind of truce leaves the door open for some serious healing later on. Sam is so right - something is broken between them. Sam has always trusted Dean, so for him to say he can't any more is huge. It's also a role reversal. At the end of S4 Dean lost his trust in Sam. It took a long time for Sam to earn that back. Now it looks like it's Dean's turn to prove he deserves Sam's trust back. I know it's hard watching them in conflict but at least that means they'll be some juicy angst (and brother soul searching) in future episodes. I much prefer this type of (organic) conflict rather than the overtly manufactured stuff we saw last year. I think the issues between them are going to be around for a while to come and may even play a large part in the finale. We'll see!

In the mean time…without saying anything too spoilery - hubba bubba next week….
Comments 
29th-Jan-2014 08:57 pm (UTC)
Sam said things pretty well at the end there, I thought, but there is still room for a lot more. I still wish they'd separate out the non-con possession from stopping the trials because I see them in completely different ways and to merge them shows why these guys are in the situation that they are.

Stopping the trials was Sam's own decision based on reality as it was. To lump it in with the non-con possession denies Sam the credit for being his own person during the last stage of the trials. I'm trying to figure out how to word this. Dean oversteps his bounds with Sam's decision-making ability an awful lot. That's one of the lessons Dean needs to learn and not just in regard to Sam. Sam is capable of making his own choices and he should be the one making them, not Dean. If Sam is blaming Dean for talking him out of the trials, that is perilously close to Dean-made-me-do-it. That's not what either guy needs here. Dean shouldn't be taking credit or responsibility for anything Sam does under his own power. He needs to back off and have Sam come forward to be his own man and Sam needs to reinforce that. (Sam needs to have a season where he's actually operating under his own power but that's another issue entirely.) It's a repeating pattern of behavior that they need to break. It's for sure not the only part of what they need to sort out and fix but it's there nonetheless. They each need to own up to the behaviors that keep this cycle going. People were commenting that they didn't understand why Sam was going with Dean and I think this is a big part of why Sam got back in the Impala where he's still the passenger. He could have gone with Dean and still drove his own car but he chose to go back 'home'.
31st-Jan-2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
still wish they'd separate out the non-con possession from stopping the trials because I see them in completely different ways

Yes! That made no sense. Sam made a choice in the church (they keep saying "they chose each other" - Sam didn't make a choice about the possession. I hated Sam "blaming" Dean for not finishing the trials (or rather that the writer made Sam say that). Sam wouldn't blame for Dean that. Stopping Sam from killing himself is different to bringing him back from the dead when he'd made peace with dying in a way that removed any choice at all.

It worries me a lot that they really aren't getting that in the show. I actually don't mind the boys being in conflict (a little bit) but I'd rather they get it right - be conflicted for the right reasons. I mean, this fight makes a lot more sense that last season's one but still - they need to be clear about what Sam actually has an issue with (I get a feeling they are really grasping to understand who Sam is at times.

Actually, I'm hoping that they can find a way for really resolving this so that maybe next season we can actually have the boys fighting side by side again and actually being awesome together.

He could have gone with Dean and still drove his own car but he chose to go back 'home'.

Oh that's lovely (that needs a gif…)
xx
31st-Jan-2014 11:46 pm (UTC)
You know, I keep coming back to Sam's comment about the trials and its relationship to Gadreel and where the boys are right now and I wonder if it is being lumped together because of where Sam was, emotionally, at the end of the trials and where he is now. I mean he was ready to go through with them and Dean talked him down from the ledge: He gave him hope about and for their relationship and where he stood with Dean when Sam had NONE. To me, Sam has always seemed to trust Dean readily (despite their shared history of keeping secrets) but he was in a rather dark and hopeless place otherwise. Maybe he felt they had reached a new understanding as brothers. Then along comes Gadreel and What Dean Did. I haven't re-watched the episode and can't be certain of the dialogue but I didn't get that Sam is actually blaming Dean for him stopping the trials or that Dean made him do it, rather, he stopped the trials because he had new found hope and trust in their relationship, both of which has now taken a huge hit, and it is all tied together in this messy, painful bow.

I think this dialogue from First Born supports this idea a bit:

Cas: Sam, the trials. You chose not to go through with them for a reason, didn't you? You chose to live rather than to sacrifice yourself ** You and Dean. You chose each other.

Sam: Yeah, I did. We did. And then Dean made a choice for me.

I think Sam really thought that they were reaching the point where they were in it together as equals. No matter how anyone feels about Dean's actions or even what motivated him to do it, to Sam it must have felt like a betrayal of the choices made in Sacrifice at the very least. I also see it as maybe causing Sam to question his own choice, given the circumstances, or even his own interpretation of Dean's choice.

I have also considered that, in addition to the above reasons for the trials tie in, maybe Real Sam wasn't around as much as we thought he was and, if this is the case, maybe the time between stopping the trials and sending Gadreel packing wasn't as long for Sam as it was for Dean and us as viewers. What Gadreel said when he left made me question whether Sam had really been Sam at all since the season began! If this is the case, for Sam there may have been no real distance between the two.

**Much has been said about "suicidal Sam" but I have never thought he was suicidal or wanted to die. Sam said he was ready to die which is not the same thing. The whole dreamscape scenes in 901 were not about Sam having a death wish or Sam giving up. They were about Sam facing and accepting Death when there are no other options. I would even go as far to say that Sam's discussion with Death (real or imagined) was to demonstrate Sam's real and worst fear that he could be brought back to the detriment of someone else. And how could he not feel that way? And it is this that comes to mind when Sam tells Dean that he was ready to die. Now Kevin is dead because what was dead didn't stay dead.

Now I realize that Dean is our narrator and informs the audience point of view. Even when he is wrong I often feel for him. But my mind boggles at how Sam is always, somehow, in the wrong (What's wrong is wrong...LOL), and often vilified no matter what.

(Cause, even though I have less time to discuss as often as I'd like, I still like to go online and read discussion/reaction and I've been a bit surprised at the reactions to Sam post possession. I wanted Ezekiel/Gadreel to be a good guy but if this is what Sam gets for reeling and reacting post Psycho! Angel possession, there'd be nothing for him Good! Angel possession. Aaaaaand, this stuff always makes me ponder reversal of fortunes scenarios. What would the response be if Sam made the choices Dean made, all other things being equal, and Dean felt the same way as Sam does, all other things being equal)

Edited at 2014-01-31 11:53 pm (UTC)
1st-Feb-2014 12:30 am (UTC)
Hi. This is very cool and I totally see how that can work. It seemed so strange that Sam would mention stopping the trials and the possession together at that point. I also think (and actually this is what I was thinking immediately after the episode) that Sam was referring to Dean's method of working and decision. I think you're right and he's not playing the blame game but rather is looking at Dean's approach to the job (and in turn, their lives) and has recognised that he wouldn't approach it like that (and is probably not sure what has changed in Dean for him to make him make those choices). I think that Sam gets that Dean's wired to "save Sam", but he sees that Dean has chosen Sam over the bigger picture (saving the world) and that makes no sense to him (and why we're getting a lot of the "you deserve to live" dialogue from Cas). Of course shutting the gates probably wouldn't have saved the world at all, but that wasn't Dean's approach. It was - you can't die to save the world.

And Sam probably can't fathom how Dean could make the decision to let an angel possess him. It's probably less to do with the consent issue (which I think we can agree isn't an issue at all from the writers pov) and more about seeing Dean make decisions that 1) Sam wouldn't make and 2) Sam thinks are not assisting their end goal of Saving People, Hunting Things.

Even in this episode we saw Dean making decisions that we can see Sam didn't agree with.

I don't think I'm convinced that Sam wasn't Sam for the first half of the season. I truly believe Gad only took over completely in that mid season finale. I think if we were to believe that we would have been told (show isn't subtle after all). That's not to say we can't believe that Sam's brain was somehow messed with - but I think the fact that Sam only got his post trial memories back 2 weeks ago, it makes sense that he'd still be feeling what he was feeling back then. Sam had a HUGE amount to take in in such a short time.

Which baffles me why some fans haven't cut him some slack. WE'VE known the whole story for 6 months. Sam has only just found out. And I totally believe that if the shoe was on the other foot Sam would be completely shouted down. And also, it took Dean a whole season and Sam jumping into the pit to gain back Dean's trust. Sam has had 1 episode to mention that trust is an issue and he's suddenly the worse brother in the world. After something like this it should take Sam just as long to gain back that trust (doubt that it will and I actually hope it doesn't take that long).
2nd-Feb-2014 10:31 pm (UTC)
....Sam was referring to Dean's method of working and decision. I think you're right and he's not playing the blame game but rather is looking at Dean's approach to the job (and in turn, their lives) and has recognised that he wouldn't approach it like that (and is probably not sure what has changed in Dean for him to make him make those choices).

Exactly! While we have always known that Sam and Dean are very different people who differ in their approach to a whole crapload of stuff, it stands to reason that our insight into the characters isn't their insight into each other. Yes, we are invested in the characters (obviously!) but we are still outside observers while they may not always be able to see the forest for the trees. They have been caught up in grand scheme life and death battles for a long time.

And I may be in the minority here (at least online) but I LIKE where Carver and Co. has taken the characters. I don't feel that it is a case of engineered drama just to have conflict. I don't feel they have been OOC at all. Maybe the execution didn't come off as well as intended but I think there is a point to all of it. I think I feel this way because, on more than one occasion, I found myself saying "YES! This is it EXACTLY where I needed to see them go" even if I wasn't consciously aware of this need before it happened. So, I've been annoyed by all the Carver bashing. Maybe I don't have season 1-5 rose colored glasses on because I didn't watch it in real time but there were quite a few duds and do what? moments in the first five seasons that no show is immune to no matter how good. Would folks have really been happier for it to end with one or both of them jumping into the Cage? Gah! To me that would rank right up there with the Farscape finale pre-PK wars as the most infuriating and disappointing ending of all time! When I finally caught up mid season 7 and came online to discuss and see what was happening in the my new found fandom, I promptly ran into the Gamble bashing which also irritated me. I mean, where do you go after stopping the devil and the apocalypse!?! I, for one, am quite impressed that Gamble and now Carver are still keeping me coming back week after week!

And, oh my gosh....to be continued in post #2
2nd-Feb-2014 10:32 pm (UTC)
Which baffles me why some fans haven't cut him some slack. WE'VE known the whole story for 6 months. Sam has only just found out. And I totally believe that if the shoe was on the other foot Sam would be completely shouted down. And also, it took Dean a whole season and Sam jumping into the pit to gain back Dean's trust.

Oh yeah! I totally agree! It reminds me that I was also a bit surprised at the sheer amount of character bashing that I encountered when I came online for the first time. I shouldn't have been surprised because SPN wasn't my first foray into fandom. If there's one thing fans love more than their shows it's fanwank about their shows. But the hate surprised me still because, hello, this is a show about two brothers. How can you love one and despise the other?!? But the idea that Dean should just dump Sam and never look back is not a new concept that I have only now encountered/post season 8. I saw it then! I see it today in my feed which has made me think that we, as fans, are so tied to the characters that we also have an inability to see the forest for the trees. We love to delve deep and analyse everything. It's why we read reviews and participate in discussion. Discussion is fun. However, in a show that has gone on this long, it's also very easy to find whatever is needed to support any given interpretation or perception of a character no matter how completely skewed that perception may be. And some of these analyses are thoughtful and intelligent. Initially, I found that I enjoyed reading them because I don't mind reading a viewpoint that is different from my own. Lately, I just find myself frustrated because it's become a predictable rehash of Dean/Sam is always the martyr/victim and Dean/Sam is always abusive/uncaring and deals in absolutes where one of the brothers is always wrong and one of the brothers is always right.

I love online fandom. I love that this show gives us something to be passionate about. But the darkside is that, sometimes, online fans have the tendency to be completely self-absorbed, self-important, and oh so certain that we know what's absolutely right about a show or the course it should take. But when I mention some of the arguments and fanwank that I encounter to my friends who love they show but are not online, they are like "Wait. What????"

Whew! Sorry that I felt the need to get all of that out of my system!


Edited at 2014-02-02 11:44 pm (UTC)
3rd-Feb-2014 12:50 pm (UTC)
Whew! Sorry that I felt the need to get all of that out of my system!

I'm glad you did! It's been nice to read some positive responses. I mean, I understand why people have issues with it but I, like you, have been enjoying what they've been doing this season. I don't like that the brothers are in such a dark place but I've liked that they've really dug deep into this relationship. They've exposed some real issues and I'm hoping this means there will be an amazing pay off.

I too liked what Gamble (mostly) did and other than Sam making no attempt (or us not really seeing why Sam made no attempt to look for Sam I've mostly enjoyed what Carver has been doing. As long as he makes it right between the two of them in the not too distant future. :)
1st-Feb-2014 11:40 am (UTC)
I wonder if it is being lumped together because of where Sam was, emotionally, at the end of the trials and where he is now.

**nods** Yep, I agree with this, as much as 'I' can't see why those two very disparate scenes needed to be lumped together, I can see how 'Sam' feels about them, that both times Dean said, along the lines of "trust me, we can fix this" and the writers are not going with the non consent of the actual possession but rather how much Sam needed on both of those occasions to trust Dean and now it's so much worse and he feels 'tricked and let down' - their tangled lives of trust and respect is knotted beyond belief, but yes, I think I see now why Sam said what he did.

Also agree that at neither point was Sam actually 'suicidal', he didn't want to die or else he wouldn't have listened to Dean at all, both times he believed his brother had an answer.

I have also considered that, in addition to the above reasons for the trials tie in, maybe Real Sam wasn't around as much as we thought he was

It's an interesting theory and one I've also thought about, but I don't feel that now we know who Gadreel is, how cut off he's been from everyone that he would have been able to fool Dean (yikes, don't mention Swap Meat!) right from the beginning. I think it took time for him to learn to assume Sam's identity. I find it also telling that Gadreel with Metatron is the same in speech patterns and body language Gadreel that Dean met and thought was Ezekiel. I could be totally wrong though.
3rd-Feb-2014 12:13 am (UTC)
I can see how 'Sam' feels about them, that both times Dean said, along the lines of "trust me, we can fix this" and the writers are not going with the non consent of the actual possession but rather how much Sam needed on both of those occasions to trust Dean and now it's so much worse and he feels 'tricked and let down'

Exactly (and says much better what I was trying to say)

Their tangled lives of trust and respect is knotted beyond belief

Which I feel is why we re-visit these themes. For them it's two step forward, one step back all the time, which is totally realistic. How often do regular, everyday folks fall into the same relationship patterns? How often do we make the same mistakes? As a recent example, I read, "Dean learned how to trust and let go of Sam at the end of season five" as if the course of behavioral change and learned lessons are a one course, "been there, done that" easy as pie, never to be repeated again. But Dean had the newer experience of losing Sam for more than a day or so after he made this decision. How hard was it for him to go about his day to day knowing Sam was trapped in the cage with Lucifer and Michael? Grief sucks in general but can you imagine believing your loved one to be in eternal torment! With these two, I can always see why they do and behave as they do, even when I don't agree. Backsliding makes sense and should even be expected.

It's an interesting theory and one I've also thought about, but I don't feel that now we know who Gadreel is, how cut off he's been from everyone that he would have been able to fool Dean (yikes, don't mention Swap Meat!) right from the beginning.

Yeah, I don't buy it completely, either, and I wouldn't think Gadreel would have known the lay of the land that quickly but he seemed to easily channel Dean and fool Sam and he hadn't even been in Dean's head prior to this. (Fooled me, too, because I thought at first that he only came in at the end when Sam said yes -like an angelic three way call- but apparently that wasn't the case?)

So, I've been questioning all of my prior perceptions. Which is good because it makes the speculation fun.
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