The Birth of Sam-Fucking-Winchester
I've been trying to pinpoint what it was that made me love this episode so much. It could be the wonderful acting by all the secondary characters (Nate Torrence as Sully was perfection), the sensitive directing by Richard Speight, Jr. (gosh, I hope he directs again), the funny and emotional script by Jenny Klein, or just the fact that it was a Sam-centric episode. I'd say it was all of those things, but mostly I think it was because this episode took the time
to explore Sam's current headspace and give us the first step he ever took to become Sam-Fucking-Winchester.
Let's be honest, we really haven't been given a lot recently about where Sam's head is at. I'm not entirely sure we've been given much of Dean's either. The show seems to be hesitant to give us these kind of episodes for some reason. S11 seems to be turning a bit of a page by allowing itself to stop and take a moment to actually give us some decent character insight and PoV.
It is very likely that I'm high on the episode purely
for the reason that the show actually acknowledged Sam's past and connected to something that's currently problematic for him. In the last 3 years an episode like this would have been skipped. We would have just been given Sam doing whatever he's about to do (something "stupid" possibly) from Dean's PoV and without any insight into how hard it is for him. I am just so fucking thrilled that they allowed this episode to actually happen. No matter where they head with this storyline, at least they've acknowledged that Sam is conflicted, terrified and confused about what he thinks he has to do.
This episode was about Sam needing to let go of his securities to face feels he has to do now. It was about reminding himself that he can face his fears, he can right his wrongs and he can be a (flawed) hero. It was about the moment he shook of his childhood "Sammy" (clinging to an imaginary friend) to becoming "Sam Fucking Winchester". I bawled like a baby because it was about a 9 year old Sam growing up way before his time and an adult Sam thinking God is asking him to do something horrific.
I also cried because as this was Sam's pov I could see the flaws in his perception. The way he thinks is so sad (same with the way Dean thinks). Their persistent guilt and un-worthiness is mind numbingly sad at times. :(Sam's Sully
Sully was such an interesting character. On the surface he was a bumbling, insecure but loveable "monster" (seemingly played for laughs at first). But there was a deeper side. He was also flawed. He had good, loving intentions, but he had made a mistake and got an innocent person killed. Which resulted in others being killed. Just like someone else we know yes?
We could see that Zanna are attracted to children like
themselves (or perhaps they evolve into the type the friend their human needs). Children project their personalities on their personal friend - they also project their needs onto them. It wasn't explained in the episode, but I thought the ones we saw were a reflection of their human counterpart. In that respect, I think Sully represented Sam's inner thoughts and conflicts. As a child, Sully was Sam's little voice in his head "you don't really want this". We know, through canon, Sam really didn't want the hunting life. In this episode we saw that he chose the hunting life because his "imaginary" friend was merely childish imagination and therefore needed to be brushed off. As an adult, Sully became the little voice that told him he was doing ok. As this was Sam's PoV it's possibly somewhat unreliable. We're just seeing his perception. So Sully gave Sam just what he needed to hear to move forward and take control of the lump in his throat he mentions at the end. Sully, like Sam, is well intentioned, but flawed. *sobs some more*
We can't underestimate how important the casting (and directing) of Sully was in this episode. He could have become a caricatured "clown", but instead we had a level of depth that, quite frankly, made this episode. That scene between Sam and Sully when Sam apologies to him for leaving him was beautiful. I had tears. *applauds* (it was also reminiscent of the scene in Shadow when they were preparing to leave for the hunt and Sam telling Dean he'll go back to school when they find dad).Dean, Dean, Dean
I am so very torn about Dean at the moment. On the one hand we see the return of the snarky, badass, funny Dean from the past but he still seems to be lacking something
. I just can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the way he's constantly brushing off Sam's visions (how many times now has he mentioned the visions? Like, almost every episode?), or maybe it's just him trying to find his feet again after the MoC. It's ironic to me that that after moaning about the lack of Sam PoV for the last 3 years, I'm suddenly craving Dean's. Why can't they give us both?! We can see that Dean's scared about Sam's visions and belief he has to go to the cage, but why can't they give us more from him about that? Just let him say more to Sam. Let him go beyond "no, you're not doing that". I have a feeling they are making Dean shut down Sam purely
to drive Sam away and make him do something without telling Dean. We just know Sam doesn't accept "no" without a fight. And I would like that Dean would know that also. Until we get the same kind of insight into what going on for Dean we don't know why he's just blatantly shutting Sam off. I'd also love to see more about the after affects of the last 2 season. He almost killed his brother - so far that's not been dealt with. Unless seeing a the funny, cocky, grumpy, charming Dean back again IS them dealing with it? We'll see. I'm hopeful there's a lot more to come on that.
There was something very important that happened to Dean in this episode though. I actually liked the character arc for him. We know Dean has always had difficulty with anything "supernatural" (Benny is the only exception I can think of). It's consistent that he wouldn't be comfortable with Sully (or his kind), so it was quite significant that he accepted Sully as a "good" weird by the end. I might even stretch that to say he even saw a bit of Sam in Sully. By accepting Sully, he was accepting Sam - (I'm still not convinced Dean is over what he said to him in S9, or even his actions in S10). I'm not sure that was the intention of the writer, but it meant a lot that Dean acknowledged him.
And Dean didn't kill anyone (which I worried he might once he was free from the ropes), and was rather soften
by the end. He realised that he wasn't always there for Sam (because seriously, how could he be?) but was grateful someone/thing was. I thought maybe during the final scene Dean was going to have a proper discussion with Sam about his visions and strange belief he has to go back to the cage, but it wasn't to be. I suspect it will become part of Sam's motivation for whatever's coming next (it reminds me of Hunted when Dean asked Sam for more time to work it out. Sam said he would then went off on his own to find answers). I'm not happy they are playing it that way (we've been here many times before), but that's the way they seem to like to play it.Wee!chesters
Dean in the flashback worked for me because I think John would have called Dean away to hunt with him. I have ready many fanfics where this is the premise so it seemed very much part of my head-canon. Dean would have hated it, but the fact is that Dean can't always there for Sam. Especially when John gave an order. It's canon that Dean followed orders, so this was very much in keeping with that canon.
I appreciate the concerns (that I've been seeing around the place) that John also ordered Dean to "watch out for Sammy" and then dragged him away from Sam. I don't mind the contradiction because I think John was a mess of contradictions anyway. He'd expect Dean to look out for Sam, but he'd also except him to accompany him on a hunt if he needed him. He didn't think Sam was ready for hunting and yet left him along in a motel room. More evidence of the screwed up childhood the boys had.
The new wee!Sam worked for me also. No doubt Colin is a hard act to follow but this young actor was great (come on, you would have all loved him if he was the first ever wee!Sam). His eyes spoke volumes and he had the right feel
. And, um, actually I think he's the Sam I always imagined when I read those fics years ago. I loved that scene on the bed between him and Sully (significant that Sully was on Dean's bed) and then later when he ditched Sully (reminded me of the scene in Shadow when they were packing to leave and Sam said he needed to move on once they found dad). Niggles
Even my fave eps have issues. ;)
I have no idea why Sam thinks he has to go back to the cage. He's prayed, he's had images of the cage and now he think God wants him to go back there? I just don't get why that would be his first thought. But ok. He's possibly had inner feelings about that. But how on earth does he think he's going to do it? Don't answer that!! It took a whole season for them to find a key to unlock it (horseman rings) so I am sure it will only take one episode for them to find a back door (Taxi Driver anyone?). It's weird that Sam and Dean are talking about it as though it's just a matter of popping down there. Even Dean hasn't said "it's not happening! Not just because I don't want you to do that, but we have no way of opening it anyway!".
Sam thinking Sully was imaginary at the age of nine is a stretch. I would think if Sully appeared to him after he knew about monsters it would have had him terrified. But, I can hand-wave it because I know Sully was a instrument to show us Sam's shedding of his childhood. And maybe Sam desperately needed someone like him then. *sniff*
So much for the bunker being impenetrable by supernatural beings.Notable
According to the writer, Sully's rainbow braces were a shout-out to Mork (Robin Williams from Mork and Mindy). *cries*
The actress keeping a straight face with glitter blood all over her face. Loved that whole scene. *applauds*
Dean thinks families showering together is what keeps them together. He knows from experience I'd say.
Air guitar. *awesome*. Dean's "he's no Clapton" *even more awesome*
Boys in cardigans. <3 WITH Bert and Ernie reference. *ded*
And did you notice the wallpaper and the bed frames? They are the same as the episode we first saw the wee!chesters in Something Wicked. How awesome is that?! Note that the room dividers have changed from the bowling theme to a farmyard theme.
This episode is up there as one of my fave Sam-centric eps. My first is probably Mystery Spot, followed by When the Levee Breaks. It was able to do what those earlier episodes did with Sam - show
us inside his head, rather than us having to second guess him.
Poll is posted here