It’s almost impossible to review this episode as a single thing. There was the Monster of the Week episode, which had to do with Garth and the definition of ‘monster’ that SPN has often considered. And there was the last three minutes, which was something completely different.
First, the MotW portion. I’ve liked Garth well enough in the past, but not so much that I was clamoring for his return. I liked him in this episode, though. He’s more interesting as a werewolf – sorry, lycanthrope – than as an unlikely (often comic relief) hunter. Adam Glass let us get to know Garth a bit better, and DJ Qualls gets to invest the character with some emotional vulnerability. His relationship with his new wife comes off as touching, even if it did apparently get very serious very fast (I suppose becoming a werewolf and then having one sniff you out and save your life will move you to the alter pretty quickly).
Supernatural has always used the monster-of-the-week story to parallel what’s happening with the brothers, and Adam Glass kept up that tradition here. The Reverend’s warning to Dean about the cost of revenge, and the way he lived through the same loss as John Winchester but chose such a different path, thinking more of his child and less of his own need for revenge, was a nice touch. Surprisingly, Dean was able to hear this message, even though this was the turned-on-its-head ‘hunter killed my monster wife’ instead of the Winchester family history. I liked that Glass let us see Garth’s reaction to Kevin’s death, and that their conversation gave us a chance to see once again how raw that pain still is for Dean. Even the conveniently long bad stepmom speech held some parallels – she’s been driven to a path of mindless revenge by the loss of her little brother. We all know someone else who’s repeatedly been driven to desperate means by the threat of their little brother’s death, don’t we?
I also liked the little twists and turns in the script, even if I could see some of them coming. The good guy sheriff surprised me by being a bad guy – but of course any group of people singing ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’ and dressed like that were going to turn out to be bad!
So the standalone story worked for me, but most of my energy was invested in analyzing every moment of interaction between Sam and Dean throughout the first 57 minutes. The preview repeated the boys’ breakup scene, highlighting Dean telling Sam, “People who get close to me, they end up dead – or worse.” That seemed significant to my analytical-in-overdrive little brain. Was Dean acknowledging that allowing Gadreel to possess Sam turned out to be perhaps worse than death? Was that his attempt at an apology even then? I hadn’t really caught it before, but it seems like Dean not only wanted to protect Sam by leaving, but was acknowledging that he had done something wrong when he let Gadreel possess Sam.
Throughout the MotW portion of the episode, I have to say the boys were just the way I like them. First, they both looked obscenely good. Sam in that suit with his hair the absolutely perfect length and style (in my humble opinion) and Dean with his scruffy break-up beard that just brought out the green of his eyes even more (and if his jeans get any tighter I won’t be responsible for the content of my live tweets anymore).
I also liked that Glass’ script showed off both brothers’ intellectual competence and physical prowess. Mmm, that sounds nice, doesn’t it? Physical prowess…. It’s no secret that smart!boys are a turn on for me, and both Sam and Dean got to trade off smarts here. Sam slaps Garth awake instead of Dean’s questionable adrenaline tactics, and it’s Sam who notices that it’s too quiet for Garth to still be in the bathroom. My guess is that Sam was purposely trying to keep the wicked stepmom talking in the barn too, hoping Dean would get there in time. And that moment when Dean tried to bullshit Sam about the camera being turned the wrong way so Sam will leave, and Sam cuts him off and confronts him? Hahaha. The flabbergasted look on Dean’s face, and Sam’s look of “Really?” When Sam says all serious-like, “no games,” damn! I don’t know who could hear that sort of command and not snap to attention. Like I said, smart!Sam is sexy.
Dean got to show off his smarts too. He realizes that the freshly killed deer is a little too fresh, and is able to recognize that the Reverend isn’t lying about being in the dark about Ragnarok. And that whole taking off his jacket to lure the bad guys and then wearing one of theirs to disguise his scent? Damn!
I also have a bit of a thing for the brothers working in sync, which happened a lot in the early seasons. Thank you, Adam Glass, for making that happen again here. Even when they’re not getting along, Sam and Dean have been fighting side by side for so long that they make it look like a well choreographed dance, smooth as silk and deadly effective. Dean’s hand signals to Sam are instantly understood and acted upon (I might have actually squealed out loud the first time that happened in this episode – I definitely did when it happened more than once!) It’s obvious throughout the episode that they are such a good team. Dean works on instinct and sometimes shoulders ahead too quickly; Sam reins him in and thinks things through. It felt so right when they were both leaning back against the hood of the Impala, shoulder to shoulder, and Dean listens to Sam’s “C’mon man, let’s do this right.”
I might have a bit of a competence kink too, because I loved that Glass let both the boys show off their (sorry, I have to say it again) prowess. Sam using those long legs to kick the gun out of wicked stepmom’s hand even though he was tied to a tractor (Sam’s tied up, it must be Tuesday…). Dean throwing that knife right to the center of the sheriff’s chest before he can even move towards them. Sam taking about .02 seconds to pick the lock of Garth’s door. Dean doing the research to figure out Ragnarok. These are the Winchesters I fell in love with – smart, competent, hot as hell. Of course, they’re also headstrong and emotionally effed up and have been traumatized so many times I have no clue how they can even string two words together anymore. I do know that – so maybe I should have seen the last three minutes coming.
Throughout the episode, I hung on every word the brothers said to each other, and over-analyzed every wordless glance they sent in the others’ direction. From the second they surprised each other in Garth’s hospital room, every look and word was loaded. Neither wanted to be caught looking at the other, but they both kept casting furtive glances, trying to figure out what the other was thinking. While there was a whole lot of awkward between them, it was also clear that they’d missed each other – they both wanted to know what had happened when they were apart, and neither of them really likes to hear that the other is working with someone else. Dean scoffs when he hears that Cas has been helping Sam, making uncomfortable jokes to cover his resentment. That’s Dean’s job, in his mind, even though he’s the one who messed up and he’s the one who left.
On my first watch of the episode, I was furious that Sam didn’t seem to care about Dean having gotten himself marked by Cain – by the third watch, I saw his reaction differently. Sam initially seems concerned when he asks about the burn on Dean’s arm, especially when Dean tells the truth and says it was given to him by Cain. But as soon as Dean mentions hunting with Crowley, Sam gets stuck on that part and switches back to being angry. Both of them have, in the past, been scornful of anyone else they’ve partnered with in terms of working a job, and this time was no exception. In fact, they both seemed a wee bit jealous of each other’s new partner. They may be estranged, but they’re clearly still all tangled up in each other. (Which makes me secretly gleeful.) Sam still reminds Dean to be careful, and Dean still reacts to Sam not answering his phone by taking off after him in the Impala with tires screeching.
There were plenty of other things I enjoyed about the MOTW story. Dean’s disgusted look when he sits down to dinner with Garth’s pack and everyone is eating raw meat with far too much bloody gusto.
The way the wicked stepmom looks at Sam and her cheeky “Well don’t you look good enough to eat?” Gotta say, I completely agree with her.
I liked Garth’s hugs goodbye, and the way Dean came around to a (somewhat reluctant) acceptance of the lycanthropes. “Don’t let that go,” he tells Garth about his newfound family, and I think to myself, he’s talking about him and Sam too. I started to hope that Dean would change his mind about not hunting with Sam “for his own good”. I started to hope for some reconciliation. Oh, silly me. Haven’t I learned over 9 years of watching this Show that my heart is more likely to get broken in the last five minutes than anything else?? I actually thought I had made it through an episode without needing my always-at-the-ready box of tissues. Then the last scene hit me with ALL THE FEELS. A whole box full.
I’m not sure you could find words that would gut me – and Dean — more than for Sam to say that he and Dean could work together, but not be brothers. I get that he’s angry and that he’s finding it hard to trust Dean, who lies to Sam when he thinks it’s for his own good (and really, who likes that??) (Both of them have done the ‘lying to you for your own good thing’ far too often). And I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that Sam, who knows Dean better than anyone, would know how to cut him the deepest. I just didn’t expect it to feel like it was cutting me in two at the same time. Sam and Dean being brothers, with all that means, is what I love about this Show and why I watch it. I’m willing to hang on for the long road back if that’s what it will take, but damn, I don’t have to like it. Right now, it’s too painful to be pleasurable, even if it turns out to be good storytelling in the long run.
That whole scene was agonizing. (Though I like the way Glass wrote the dialogue as stilted and often trailing off into silence – the Winchesters, after all, have never been good at talking to each other.) It just hurt so much. Dean getting out of the car and going after Sam, his awkwardness as he struggles to apologize (but of course doesn’t manage to get the actual words out, because….Dean Winchester…), his attempt to use the code of ‘we’re family’ to explain what he did and why, and Sam’s refusal to buy it. To Dean, that’s explanation enough, explanation for everything. To Sam, that’s not enough.
I’m not sure the word holds quite the same meaning for Sam as it does for Dean. Sam grew up with a family, because Dean made sure of that, and Sam ended up secure enough to take it for granted like most of us do when we’re adolescents – it’s what let him walk away. Dean has never been able to do that. Family means everything to Dean, because he’s always terrified he’s about to lose it. He doesn’t define it narrowly – it includes Cas and Bobby and Kevin and Charlie too – but Sam has always been first and foremost. It’s not that Sam hasn’t valued family too. I remember when Sam said, “You’re my brother. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” I remember the end of Season 5, when Sam remembering that he and Dean were family, and their shared lives together, literally gave him the strength to take control from Lucifer and save the world. That was Kripke’s message, and it’s too much a part of the heart and soul of Supernatural to forget.
I swear I could see Dean’s heart breaking when Sam looks him in the eye and says they’re not brothers – thanks Jensen, for portraying Dean’s barely stifled emotions so poignantly that it just about broke my heart too. I keep remembering the last time I asked Jensen about Dean’s emotional state in S9, and he got so serious and talked about Dean being in such a dark place, so dark that it was a struggle to shake it off at the end of the day. I know that Jensen has said before that when the brothers aren’t themselves, and he doesn’t have that familiar relationship to fall back on, it makes the job harder. Jared and Jensen are so close in real life – so much brothers – that having Sam and Dean not be must be really effing hard for them.
Adam Glass tweeted a reminder to a distraught fandom: “Remember everyone that conflict is good for story. And becuz something is happening now doesn’t mean it’s forever. It’s for now.
He’s right. But the conflict has to be believable and consistent with the rest of the narrative. A lot of people (me included) got stuck on the fact that we’ve seen the brothers at odds in similar ways before. When they walked away from Benny and Amelia in Season 8, Sam had the same sort of doubts about working with Dean, and it was painful. (The whole first half of Season 8 was painful, for that matter). The second half, and especially the finale episode, healed a lot of that pain – for the brothers and for the fandom. That emotionally powerful scene in ‘Sacrifice’ that saw the brothers reaffirming their love and commitment to each other was one of my favorite scenes in the entire series – it was important. Dean asked Sam to prioritize his own life – told Sam, perhaps for the first time in words, how much Dean valued Sam’s life – and Sam made a choice to stay alive and be with Dean. As much as we joke about it being “the commitment ceremony in the church,” it was something that carried a lot of meaning. To us — and to them.
What was disturbing about Sam’s speech to Dean at the end of this episode was that he seemed to conflate what Dean said at the church – which was a heartfelt admission of his love for Sam and his valuing of Sam – with what Dean did with Gadreel. At the church, it wasn’t Dean tricking Sam into anything or making a choice for him – it was Dean asking Sam to choose life and to choose them. And Sam did. He chose. The situation with Gadreel was different, and more disturbing. I think, in Dean’s rationalization of what happened, he essentially let Gadreel go in and say to Sam exactly what Dean himself would have said if he could have “gone in”. And Sam would have chosen to say yes to Dean then for real – it would have been his choice (though an ill-informed one). He was trusting Dean to do whatever he had planned to save Sam, and saying yes to that even without knowing exactly what “that” was. In Dean’s eyes, that was what did happen. He thought he had a way to save Sam – he believed Gadreel (because he wanted desperately to) and so, in that moment of such great distress and panic, he went along with Gadreel’s trick. Maybe at the time, Dean rationalized it as a way for him to communicate with Sam (through Gadreel) and convince Sam not to choose death.
Most of us didn’t see it that way. It was clear that Dean wasn’t thinking very clearly (Sam was dying, so obviously…) and that what he did would have dire consequences. But I can at least understand his mind set and how he rationalized what he was doing. I can also understand Sam’s horror — to Sam, he was absolutely tricked. He thought he was talking to Dean – and he wasn’t. You can’t make an informed choice based on misleading information, and Sam certainly didn’t knowingly choose to be possessed.
I was so horrified by this turn of events at the time that I convinced myself that it really was Dean talking to Sam in that cabin with Death (it wasn’t clear from what we saw in the actual episode). I wanted that to be true so badly that I asked Jensen about it at a con and then argued with him when he said no, that was Gadreel the whole time. I kept saying no no no, it can’t have been, that must have been Dean! I so wanted those words to be Dean’s (“They’re ain’t no me if there ain’t no you.”) that I literally tried to talk the actor who portrays Dean out of his interpretation of the scene. *is embarrassed*
With the benefit of hindsight, I still think that the words were Dean’s, even if the delivery wasn’t. Gadreel could see into both of them, so he knew exactly what Dean would say if he were actually in there. (And that Sam would trust his brother and say yes). Dean was able to rationalize it as a way for him to speak to Sam while Sam was in a coma. But now it looks like Dean is finally beginning to understand that what he did had huge consequences for Sam, that it “took a piece of him.” His rationalization for what he did is breaking down. (“What’s right is wrong, and what’s wrong is more wrong.”) He must know that Sam has had his choice taken away far too many times – Azazel, Lucifer, Meg, Ruby – so for Dean to let him be possessed by Gadreel is even more horrible. Even if it was to save his life. Even worse, I think to Sam it seems to negate what Dean said in the church, what Sam so needs to believe – that Dean loves him, respects him, values him. Maybe it feels to Sam like those were hollow words said to manipulate him at the time – but please, writers, tell me that YOU don’t believe that! Please don’t conflate the two events and define them both as the result of a needy and selfish Dean manipulating Sam. I don’t – can’t – believe that’s true. It takes away from the power of that scene in the church, one of my favorites in the entire Show, to now imply that Dean did something wrong there, that Sam didn’t have a choice, that Dean was wrong to want to save his brother. There were huge consequences, yes, but don’t tell me that moment didn’t mean anything to them! I need that emotional bond between the brothers as the entry point through which I invest in the Show.
I can understand Sam being angry and hurt and lashing out, so for now I’m putting his conflating the two things down to that – and also his insistence that “everything that’s gone wrong between us is because we’re family.” That’s just not true – the whole debacle with Ruby happened because Sam walked away from family, and Sam was able to save the world and kick out Lucifer because of family. Kripke ended his tenure as showrunner emphasizing that being family was the most important thing of all. What Sam said seems like a big bit of revisionist history, and I’m hoping it’s because of Sam’s emotional state and not an actual piece of revisionist canon.
So where are we going? I don’t know, but I know where I wish we could go. It can’t always be Dean saving Sam. Yes, that’s a major theme of the show, and it worked really well for the first few seasons, when Sam still looked like a vulnerable little brother with a forehead-covering mop of hair, skinny and wide eyed. He’s not that boy anymore – visibly for sure, but any innocence Sam Winchester still had when he went to Stanford is long gone. Dean has done all sorts of things to save Sam time after time, and while I think Sam is grateful, he also feels resentful – too often, Dean did what he did without giving Sam any choice in the matter, and it inevitably becomes uncomfortable if a relationship is too one-sided when it comes to sacrifice. It turns one person into a martyr and the other into a victim. And nobody is happy.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. Sam is big and strong and grown up (damn, is he ever – if you have any doubt, check out the episode preview for next week…) and he’s asserting his strength and independence. Unfortunately, he’s asserting it right now by stomping his feet and saying ‘stop making decisions for me or I’ll stop being your brother’. OUCH. In order to go forward, they have to stop having the same arguments over and over. Believe me, I love their codependence more than I can say – but they can be codependent in a much less stuck way by making their mutual dependence much more “co”. Dean is a freaking mess right now, emotionally broken and so desperate that he even tried to tell Sam the truth about it and ask for help, in his own emotionally stilted and awkward way. He was honest for a change, which is a little bit of growth – Sam was too. It’s fine for Sam to be angry. It’s even fine for Sam to need to punish Dean for a while – but surely they can each empathize with the other’s feelings. Sam has also lied to and manipulated Dean in his well-intentioned alliance with Ruby, so he knows what it’s like to have to earn back trust. Dean has also felt betrayed and knows what it feels like to be tricked and lied to. I have to believe that deep down these two still love each other more than anything else on earth.
Maybe we have the perfect set-up for something many fans have been clamoring for over multiple seasons — for Sam to save Dean for a change. Dean’s a mess, and he’s set himself up for something tragic by taking on the mark of Cain. Who better to save him than the all-grown-up little brother who actually does love him? That would go a helluva long way toward healing Sam’s resentment at always being the “victim” and instead let him prove his independence – at the same time, it would prove to Dean that he’s not in this relationship alone. The brothers can go back to liking each other and working as a team and having some fun in between the inevitable apocalyptic crises, and maybe they can take turns saving each other’s (very fine) asses for another season.
What do you think? Fandom was sharply divided in their reaction to this episode, with a whole helluva lot of emotion swirling around the internet.
Fandom portion #1: Sam went too far!
Fandom portion #2: Sam didn’t go far enough!
Fandom portion #3: Where the hell is Cas?
There was also a ton of insightful meta and reviews on what went right with the episode and what went wrong. Do you agree or disagree with me? What do YOU want to see happen next? Tell me in the comments!
I’ll leave you with a few upbeat things. Here’s a an adorable behind the scenes pic tweeted by DJ Qualls:
And thankfully, fanfic and fanart make everything better:
All together now — Awwwwwww.
101 thoughts on “Why Do I Love A Show That Breaks My Heart? Supernatural’s ‘Sharp Teeth’”
Love, love, love this review! Thanks for articulating my feelings much better than I ever could. 🙂
I can’t help but see this through the lens of my own fights with siblings, which are few and far between but absolutely brutal. We don’t pull punches, and we hold grudges forever. We don’t have to wear our masks with siblings, and we don’t try to keep the peace just for the relationship, because you can’t get OUT of that relationship. Sam and Dean are being very realistic, imho.
And above all, I trust all these writers. They’ve done a hell of a job for 9.5 years, and they’re doing what’s necessary to keep the show going. Put a fan in charge and we’d make everyone reconcile, kill every last threat, and leave the boys with nothing to do but sit around and admire each other. I’m glad it’s in the hands of professionals.
The only thing I disliked about this episode is that Adam is getting so many rude tweets. I hate when the ugly side of fandom rears its head, and I wish I could excommunicate all those who are disrespectful to anyone who works on my favorite show.
You’re so right about siblings pulling no punches with each other – but damn, it hurts to watch! I totally agreed with Adam’s tweet last night – conflict is good for the story, even if it breaks my heart in the process. Even when I quibble with some bits and pieces, I’m in it for the long term, willing to go where my favorite Show in the history of ever takes me 🙂
As a diehard brothers fan, I loved your analysis of the last few minutes. I’m in total agreement with you about the way they put the final scene of Sacrifice in question. It’s one of the most important scenes of the series, and to lessen it’s meaning takes away so much from the brothers relationship, and from the message of the show in general.
I hope the show can bring the brothers together in a way that doesn’t lessen all they’ve done for each other over the years. Their sacrifices for each other always came from a place of great love and to denigrate those sacrifices just seems too hurtful to contemplate. Sam’s rejection of family and the brotherhood caused a collective gasp among everyone I know and the consensus overall was that change may be needed, but did it have to be so soul-gutting for Dean? And does it need to come at the expense of making Sam seems like a heartless jerk?
I’m going to try my best to keep an open mind and hopeful attitude, but honestly, right now I’m confused and wary, given how brutal Sam’s rejection of Dean was written.
Thanks for an insightful look at what may be a critical turning point in the brother’s relationship. *keeping fingers crossed*
Pretty sure I heard that same collective gasp on Tuesday! Missyjack wrote that we (the audience) often feel what Dean feels, and I think that’s true. I watched Dean’s heart break, and felt my own in danger of coming apart right along with it. I’m not sure where we’re going now, but I am in awe of a Show being on the air for nine years and still pulling this much emotion out of me!
The audience feels what Deanl feels because he gets 90% of the POV. It’s great for Dean girls, but quite disheartening for a big Sam girl like me. Sam betrays Dean in Season 4, and we feel how hurt Dean is. Dean betrays Sam in Season 9, and we sympathise with Dean again. I once read a review that basically said that that the show is geared toward making the viewers take Dean’s side, even when he’s wrong, and I agree. It’s so frustrating! Poor Dean’s heart is breaking! And who cares is Sam was possessed again after the horror of Lucifer, right? He hasn’t even mentioned it, so I guess he’s forgotten?
I have so many thoughts that I can’t possibly spit them out in any kind of coherency (which is why I appreciate those of you who can), but I’ll share two…
First, the thing that kept beating in my head during that last conversation was “Sam, you’re breaking him.” Not that it wasn’t realistic (they’re siblings — upset and uncomfortable and sometimes-pushing-it-too-far come with the territory), or even in some sense necessary, but it was very painful to watch.
Second, I keep thinking back to a moment from Devil’s Trap, in Season 1 (which is one of my favorite episodes, partly because I still jump several inches when the truck hits them, even though of course I know it’s coming — and I’m not the jumping kind). It’s what Azazel/John says to Dean: “You fight and you fight for this family, but the truth is they don’t need you. Not like you need them.” I think this sums up Dean’s motivations somewhat parallel to how Crowley’s words at the end of First Born sum up his psyche. He needs his family more than anything, and he needs them alive — which leads to some at-times-questionable decision-making on his part. Sam, on the other hand, doesn’t define himself or his family in the same way — he loves them, yes, needs them, yes, but “not like” Dean does. Not wrong, necessarily, just different. (And isn’t it just like a demon to say it that way — the words are true, but the meaning is twisted.) I also like to think that this is part of the reason for Dean’s seeming about-face on working with Sam in this episode — he’s trying so hard to abide by his self-imposed exile, but after being thrown back into Sam’s company (and seeing Sam’s hurt over being left, which is something Dean understands), the pull is just too strong. Between his own need for family and the desire to fix what he feels like he screwed up by leaving (which he did trying to fix what he screwed up by being there — you just can’t win in this family), he can’t just let Sam go again. He’s so lost that the physical presence of “home” that is Sam is better than nothing, even if it’s only a physical presence right now and nothing else.
And now I’m rambling. I promise, that really was just two thoughts… and help, it’s only Thursday.
Yes, I think that’s what I was getting at too — family is everything to Dean, more than it is to most of us. Sam is the more “normal” one. He loves his family, he loves his brother, but his entire psyche isn’t organized around preserving his family like Dean’s is. It makes for some questionable decisions on Dean’s part, but damn, it makes for some good compelling storytelling too. Even when it’s breaking my heart 🙂
Love it!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!! Perfect Review
I think this ep was overwhelming like you said before Garth, monster of the week and Sam and Dean…. I want of the fans who trust the writters, Adam gave us FEELINGS, it hurts to see Dean talking about Kevin and his Death I believe is something natural in a Winchester carry the guilt but also a natural in humans too.
Sam and Dean actually I appreciated that the fissure in the realtion btw Sam and Dean did’t solve in one episode, why??? I don’t know if I am crazy…. But I believe that Adma gave us True human Feelings (and don’t mean that we haven’t see this before) but Sam felt betrayed by Dean and let’s face it when you in real life feel like Sam you don’t forgive the next day take you time because you have to feel angry and then understand why the person do what he did….
With Dean we got guilt like usual but I think is a little different this time I think he tired too about all this wrong actions that he made…..
I agree with you I think is a good time to see Sam take the role of “big guy” and save Dean and show that he has learned from the best how to take care of his brother.
You are SO right, Adam most definitely gave us FEELINGS! And that says something very good about a Show in its ninth season. I’d better go out and stock up on those tissues for the rest of the season, huh? 🙂
You read some really shallow stuff out there that it’s actually refreshing to come here and read something articulate. More articulate than me, for one, that could do nothing more than pout at the screen and try and hold my tears back just like Dean. I totally understand where Sam is right now but I still think he went too far. Of course you are right. He hurts Dean because he is hurt too AND because he CAN. I almost hope for something to happen that will shake Sam to his guts and make him realize how much he really cares about Dean but it makes me fear what lies ahead for Dean. I wish Bobby was still around to kick both their asses back into sense. If Garth hadnt been so busy being a husband lycanthrope maybe he could have said something but he didnt. I’m not sure this is a task for Cas. It’s way too human. Sam and Dean will have to figure it out by themselves and they might as well do it fast cause my heart can just take so much being torn into pieces. For some reason, I havent been able to stop playing Air Supply’s All out of love and singing along: I’m all out of love… What am I without you… I cant be too late… To say that I was so wrong.
Uh oh, now I totally have Air Supply stuck in my head….oh, boys! I’m with you, I love that Show can still pull all these feelings from me after all this time, but OH, how it hurts! 🙂
Thank you so much for writing this. Truly.
You so eloquently put into words what I have been feeling since Tuesday, and have been struggling to express.
I wish I could just package this post, tie a pretty bow on it (maybe include a beer) & send it along to every SPN writer to read & think on.
While I enjoyed the MOTW storyline (I found the Stepford-like werewolves to be quite hilarious) & it was nice to see Garth return (mostly because DJ seems to be such a sweetheart), I just could not get onboard with this episode due to the brother-drama.
As I watched that last scene between the brothers, my heart just ached – and it did not ache in a “this is such great television” way – and then my heartache, quickly turned to anger & frustration.
I SO badly wanted to understand where Sam was coming from. I get he is angry at Dean (and he has ever right to be & let him stew & make Dean accountable), however, I thought the whole “we can’t be brothers” thing was so unnecessary. Also, unnecessary was Sam turning around & throwing HIS own choice to choose Dean over closing the gates of Hell in Dean’s face. I really do not understand the reasoning there. All it did for me was cheapen what I consider to be one of SPN’s most powerful & memorable scenes. I almost feel like Adam Glass threw in those lines without fully realizing what the repercussions might be.
Coming into this season, I really thought the brothers would be in a good place – the church scene in 8.23 (I thought) had solidified that. I felt like all the pain & heartache from Season 8’s Purgatory, Benny, Amelia, & Trials storylines were worth it because we got such a big payoff – Sam & Dean’s relationship was torn apart, only to be built back up stronger & better than it was before. But alas, Season 9 happened, and now it seems like all the brother drama-rama from Season 8 was for…nothing.
And so now I worry that ALL this brother drama-rama this season will also be for nothing. Because even when the brothers make up, next season they will be back to their old, tired ways.
Carver has talked about maturing the brothers. I worry about what type of maturing he has in mind. IF the maturing means less lies, more trust, less secrets, more support – sign me up! However, IF the maturing mean untangling the brothers relationship to a point where Dean or Sam wouldn’t do anything for the other, than no thanks. Because that is not Sam & Dean I know. Growing-up does not have to mean growing apart is my mantra.
I’m going to hold on (how could I not??), however, I really hope this conflict & tension is not dragged out for much longer. SPN has always been my happy place, so I hate that I feel so conflicted about the show as of late. I want so badly to put my trust in the writers to PLEASE JUST FIX THEM, but it’s tough. It sucks being so (overly) invested! 😉
It does sometimes suck being so (overly) invested, doesn’t it? When it’s good it’s oh so good, but when it hurts….ouch! I agree with you about the maturing – I’m all for more of the good stuff, but not at the expense of untangling the complicated relationship that made me fall in love with the Show in the first place. Joining you in holding on (and passing you the tissues) 🙂
This review was great as always. I had so many emotions going into this episode has well as leaving it. Seeing the brothers together was great as usual. Even when there is tension, it’s still them. I really liked the episode and have watched it four more times.
To comment on next weeks episode….. I’m ready to see Sammy. Thanks again ladies.
I think we’re all ready to see Sammy next week 😉
Your concerns are mine. I am hopeful that Jeremy Carver’s assertion at interview that he is ‘maturing’ Sam and Dean doesn’t translate to maturing them out of their wonderful co-dependence. I was on my way out the door after the whole silly Amelia interlude, In no way was Sam written in character, and it made me want to stop watching, until thankfully the show turned around. I’m in the show for the relationship between Sam and Dean, and if that goes out the window, then I suspect I’ll have nothing left to watch.
I’ll hang in til the bitter end, because I have no choice but to trust the writers, but I do wish that Sera, Raelle and John Shiban were still writing for Show. They understood the show and didn’t retcon whenever it suited them.
I don’t want to walk away from Show. It will feel horribly like a divorce, but I’m gritting my teeth right now in fear of what might be evolving. I, like you, want to see Sam and Dean come to an understanding that will further their relationship. I want Sam to step up and help Dean out of the potentially terrible fate that the mark of Cain implies, and that could be a wonderful story to tell. The Winchesters are totally alone now. Kevin is gone, and Charlie and Garth are to all intents and purposes neutralized. Sure we still have Castiel, but I liken him to Dr. Who’s Sonic Screwdriver. He’s a plot device that the writers can use to get themselves out of the corner into which they’ve written themselves. “Sure, let’s make Sam at death’s door, held together with duct tape and paperclips. No problem, Castiel can heal him with a touch whenever we need him to.: I find Castiel irrelevant and was hoping he would stay human for a while. Guess not.
Still, Jensen and Jared are so amazingly good at what they do that I am still with the show. I feel like the show is teetering on the brink. If it goes the way we hope, it will be wonderful. If it goes in the direction I’m afraid it might, then the heart and soul of Supernatural will be gone, and I will be shortly after that.
I never thought I would ever say this, and I am sorry that these are my thoughts. I’ve loved almost every episode of Show since the Pilot, and liked them all even when I didn’t love them, I feel protective of those two fictional brothers, and I want the best for them. Would it really hurt to leave them a friend or two? When the two of them aren’t even friends with each other, it makes me very depressed.
Please, writers, give me back the snarky brothers, cheap gross-outs, evil monsters, two smart, competent hunters who work seamlessly as a team and have the respect and love and, yes, trust between them that enables them to overcome whatever is thrown at them. In short, please give me back the show as it was and I will continue to watch it until, as Jensen once said, the two of them are hunting evil from their Zimmer frames.
Please don’t gut my show. I’m begging.
*glomps you in a tackle-hug* That’s exactly it, I feel protective of these fictional brothers who mean so much to me. When they hurt, I hurt. When they triumph, it feels like I do too. As someone said up thread, it’s hard to be so (overly) invested. And yet I am 🙂
I am with you candygramme. I almost gave up after the stupid Sam not looking for Dean debacle, and I feel myself drifting away from the show I love again. I fear JC has lost sight of the fact that the brothers relationship is the heart of this show, the element that sets it apart from every other show, the reason a huge chunk of the audience watch, and the reason SPN is still thriving after 9 years. I also fear that he can’t think of any other way to pad out the seasons mytharc other than demolishing then rebuilding the brothers relationship. Trouble with that approach is that a) he has to make then act ooc to create the break ups b) bro conflict is no fun to watch, especially when it isn’t credible or well written c) every time he ‘rebuilds’ it it feels a not weaker than what we had before and d) no sooner has he repaired the damage than he smashes it again the next season.
What he has done to diminish the power of the church scene in Sacrifice (which for me too was one of the best in the whole series) is unforgivable IMO. It feels like he cheated us, and the boys, like the emotions he made us feel were wrong. I’m very angry with him for that.
It makes me sad to say this, but I think I have lost trust in the writing team. I don’t think they understand the characters (particularly Sam) or their bond, and I don’t support their endgame ie where JC seems to think their relationship needs to go. He talks about maturity, but I think what he means by that is ‘less codependent’ which I don’t want to see. I disagree with him that their codependence is a bad thing / a weakness. I see it as a strength – one that has saved each other many times and saved the world.
I am also utterly sick to the back teeth of being forced around this pointless, depressing, repetitive, poorly written and damaging to the show hamster wheel of ‘secrets/guilt/reveal/anger/separation/physical reuniting/more anger/crisis/resolution/emotional reuniting and growth/season ends…..’ Then in the new season the whole sorry mess is repeated. Sorry but there is only so many times they can mess with the audience, characters and the central relationship like that before it loses all it’s power to shock or move us. In that final scene I didn’t feel like I was watching 2 people I had known and loved for 9 years talking to each other in a genuine, believable way. Instead I felt like I was watching a group of poor writers scrabbling around for forced drama by making their characters act totally ooc. When that happens, ie when as a viewer you are seeing the process rather than feeling engaged and convinced by the story, something is broken. I’m sad to say that that is how I am feeling at the moment. And even if they pull it back, I think that damage might be permanent because a) I’m feeling manipulated and taken for granted and b) the Sam not looking debacle already did irreparable damage to my faith in JC and his team.
I’ve expressed the same hopes and concerns in other places so I won’t rehash them here. Thank you ladies for expressing my thoughts perfectly 🙂
I love to read your reviews because you see things I missed and can interpret things and clarify things in such an insightful way; it definitely adds another layer of enjoyment to the show (sorry, Show) and to each episode for me.
(The pics help. It’s like a breath of fresh sex–I mean, air. Of course. Air. Yes. Whut? Did something happen? Did it get hot in here? I–oh. Yes. Show.)
I was actually pleased to see Adam Glass remind the fandom that conflict–in a story–is a good thing. A writer who isn’t torturing his/her characters isn’t doing their job. Sure, viewers/readers claim to hate it and want things to be continually perfect for the protagonists, but they neglect to remember: every memorable story has great obstacles to be overcome and the bigger, the better.
Dean and Sam have some major obstacles to deal with here. Better (for the story) their conflict isn’t external, it’s internal. You know, they can kill a monster, but they can’t do anything with their emotions except wrestle with them until they’re under control (or at least less painful). That’s never easy. I just hope the writers don’t let them put a big ole Winchester band-aide over their problem and pretend it’s fixed. (They wouldn’t dare, would they?) Better to make all of us–Winchesters and fans together–suffer. Because good storytelling makes the resolution hard to discern, hard to gain, and ultimately, more satisfying. (Keeps me tuning in. How ’bout you?)
Then again, I could be completely off in my ideas. To be honest, I’m still reeling over those breaths of fresh sex–I mean, air! Dammit! Air…IMHO, Sam didn’t go far enough. (Sam=angst) I want the brothers to wrestle with their emotions/conflict even if that means Dean gets lightheaded from all the girly huggy/feely crap and needs to go shoot guns or change Baby’s oil or something in order to restore his Alpha-maleness.
I agree, the conflict is a good thing and it makes for good storytelling (even if it does make me wanna sob myself into oblivion in the process…) I don’t think they’re going to band-aid this one, but I do hope the brothers come out on the other side as deliciously codependent as they have always been — tho maybe with a bit more stress of the “co”.
I can’t write about Show without writing about the hotness, because….well, I mean, LOOK at them! And yes, all of the above keeps me tuning in 🙂
Excellent review. I was with you every step of the way regarding over analyzing each look and awkward pause.
Kudos to Adam Glass for that painful confrontation. It was pitch perfect in it’s complete awkwardness and pain. Dean trying to reach out but not capable of really making coherent sense at points. Sam wanting to be back together but absolutely drawing the line on moving past the issue. And I do believe Sam is right that something is really broken. They have to agree on the life and death priorities and know that “having your back” is more than physical. For Sam, Dean tricked him into a fate much worse than death. Again Sam’s existence resulted in the death of others. And Sam just can’t live with that.
I understand your point about conflating the two events. I think Sam’s point was not that he thought Dean’s words were hollow. I think Sam’s issue is that Dean will let innocent people die to save Sam. And that is not Sam’s priority. I felt Dean made the right call in the church because closing the Gates of Hell was actually a change to the current natural order versus a reaction to a crisis. And Dean felt that Sam didn’t need to die simply to make the world “better”. Dean could live with status quo and make improvements with the knowledge they had gained. Note: they really haven’t done that (gotten rid of demons with their new knowledge) and that weakens his argument in the church a bit. But the core point – that he loves, trusts, and respects Sam should not be invalidated.
I also think it’s important that Sam actually didn’t say “brothers”. He stopped himself from saying those complete words. Yes the threat was there but I feel like it’s a hollow threat. Sam wants something changed and he does know how to cut Dean. Just like Dean knows how to hurt Sam. But Sam doesn’t know how to fix what is broken he just needs to get across that it really HAS to be fixed because he can’t live with Dean making another call like the Angel possession.
I have full faith in this writing team and Carver. I feel alone in that sometimes on the internet but I see them working the big picture. The painfulness of Tuesday’s episode was necessary in order to get them looking at their lives differently. I don’t know if it will be resolved in S9 but I think we will at least have them moving in the right direction.
So agreed that Adam wrote that painful scene in the way that I think it would have actually looked and sounded – the Winchesters, after all, don’t have conversations like the rest of us, often to their detriment. We all knew that some pain was coming and that what Dean did would come back to bite him in the butt big time – I think I just wasn’t quite prepared for how painful it would be for *me* too! But I’m right there with you hanging on and waiting it out and keeping my handy dandy box of tissues at the ready 🙂
I find my heart more connected to Dean’s perspective on family so when Sam says or does something that hurts Dean on this topic it slices into me as well. I actually found “Dark Side of the Moon” more difficult because Sam wasn’t mad, it was just how Sam is.
BTW, I can’t correct my post but I went back and rewatched the scene. He did say the word “brothers” but he didn’t complete the thought. Because I don’t think he wants to cross that line and NOT be brothers. So I think it matters that Sam stopped short of definitively saying “we’re not brothers”.
I get why Sam said what he did at the end of this ep. He made the choice to die – in large part so that he couldn’t and wouldn’t hurt anyone else and nobody would be hurt because of him. Now that he has his memories back of the time he was possessed by Gadreel he remembers killing Kevin and the others that Gadreel killed.
Putting myself in Sam’s place – I would be thinking of how Dean’s decisions led directly to me being the cause of Kevin’s death. Kevin who wasn’t just a friend or ally, but he was family too – and “Sam” put his hand on Kevin and burned his eyes out. Does Sam think of Kevin every time he looks at Dean? How easy would that be to “forget?” I imagine Sam feels responsible – just like he did when he found out the bad things he did when he didn’t have a soul. He said something like – the whole city burned down and I’m the one with the lighter in my pocket.
That’s an insightful glimpse into Sam’s head space, yes. I don’t know how anyone could get past remembering your ‘body’ killing someone you consider family, how you could ever not be traumatized by that. I absolutely get it too, why Sam is so hurt and horrified and angry – I even get why he said most of what he said, because we all say things that will cut when we’re lashing out. I just hope they can find a way back to understanding each other, both having been through so much so many times. They’re both so very broken. *sobs*
Wow, did I have a different take on Sam’s ‘family’ speech, and I don’t think it was that of a ranting kid, “stomping his feet.” Not even close. Dean betrayed his trust in a very fundamental way. Knowing full well how compromised Sam has been by multiple possessions, Dean let Gadreel in through deception. He shredded Sam’s trust, and Sam tells him as much: “I can’t trust you — not the way I thought I could, not the way I should be able to.” He wants to believe Dean will respect his decisions. But Dean knows all he has to do is bat his pretty lashes and Sam gets insecure and folds like a house of cards. Ultimately, it IS selfish on Dean’s part: he feels if Sam dies, it’s his fault and he can’t bear the pain that. So he will save Sam at all costs. ALL COSTS.
Dean falls back on “But we’re family”, his go-to line. I’m not even sure Dean knows what that means anymore.
In the wake of that, when Sam says: “…you want to work? Let’s work. If you want to be brothers…those are my terms”, I took that to mean We can’t be brothers because I can’t trust you. Family isn’t just a word; it means something. It means “I should be able to trust you to respect my wishes; if I tell you I’m okay with dying, with giving up my life so that we can close the gates of hell, or so that no one else can be hurt, respect that, dammit!” But Dean cannot imagine a world without Sam. Well, he can–he tried it with Lisa–and he was so miserable, he could hardly stand it. So I really do think it was selfishness on Dean’s part, that he couldn’t let Sam decide the course of his own life if it meant death. It’s the way Dean’s wired.
I don’t think Sam went too far at all. No further than Dean, when he ticked off Sam’s litany of sins before the start of the ritual in ‘Sacrifice’. But I do think the writers were deliberately obtuse to make drama, which is kinda frustrating. Certainly not worth sending nasty tweets to Glass, but a little contrived, nonetheless.
Despite my Samward-leaning rant, I enjoyed your thoughtful–if a tad Dean-favoring–review! 😉
I totally depend on comments from my Sam!girl insightful friends to help me stand in Sam’s shoes and feel what he’s feeling, since I tend to naturally take Dean’s perspective more often in the narrative. I do get why Sam feels how he feels, and I think his reactions are the expected and normal ones, considering all the trauma he’s experienced in the past from being possessed/controlled in some way. I get Dean’s rationalization for saving him too, and still wish I could go rewrite that scene with Death in the cabin the way *I* have to see it. (See, I’m pretty good at rationalization too when it comes to this Show….lol).
I also wanted to rewrite Dean’s ‘blaming’ of Sam for being soulless in ‘Sacrifice’ the second it played out, as I sat there with a big “WHAT?” expression on my face. Probably very unflattering 🙂
Thanks, truly, for putting up with my borderline snark! If nothing else, this friction makes us desperate for the next episode! And not at all because of tank tops and push-ups and sexy hairnets. Not, not even a little. 😀
LOLing at the thought of you trying to ‘correct’ Jensen! 😀 But love your rationale -of course, Gadreel could easily have lifted those thoughts and emotions from Dean’s head to make his possession more effective. But the end of the ep felt just like a romantic couple splitting up to me. “Something’s broken now”… GAH. Feels!
Ohgod *facepalm* I argued with him for like way too long, ridiculously. Luckily he’s a very patient man and knows I tend to get passionate when it comes to my favorite character in the history of ever. lol I still interpret that episode “my way” tho. Shhhh.
And you’re so right about the last scene being another almost-break-up scene. I do kinda love Adam for that 🙂
Thank you for your thorough and thought-provoking review. 🙂 I have been thinking about this a lot. I am a Sam and Dean, brothers together fan through and through and THAT will never change.
I had to watch the end scene several times. The words Sammy said to Dean stung and at first I didn’t see a reaction from Dean. Sam dished out his terms, Dean raised an eyebrow and nodded and off they went. Dean got his brother to join him and took him any way he could. Then I thought back to a Soulless Sam episode and at the end they were sitting at a picnic table. Soulless Sam is talking about he doesn’t care about anything and to paraphrase, ‘…as a matter of fact, I don’t even care about you.’ Those words hurt Dean, but he kept his walls up and his walls were what I saw Tuesday night. His voice was even, he did not get emotional and he just took what Sam was dishing out. Guilt will do that to you.
Dean did not trick Sam at the church. They chose that together, which Sam even acknowledged with Cas. Gadreel appeared as Dean in Sam’s mind. Of course, Sam wouldn’t have listened to a stranger. But, even with “Dean” there, Sam could have still chosen death, but did not. He chose life, as he did in the church with Dean by his side. Gadreel was inside Sam’s mind so he had to have seen just how much Dean meant to Sam to play Dean the way he did. I don’t know why Sam used the church as an example. I understood not wanting a wayward angel in him and Dean’s guilt understood that too.
I think there will be growth in both Sam and Dean after all they just went through. Growth is a good thing, maybe taking a break, like they have several times is a good thing, but here’s to them coming back from this not only stronger in self-growth, but mostly stronger in their bond as brothers and it stays that way.
I’m with you all the way – that’s how I see the situation too. I understand how much both of them are hurting right now, but I hope they can come back from this and be in a place that still feels like SPN.
Also, I rewatched that end scene many times too, and every time I was more amazed at how much emotion Jensen conveys with such subtle changes of expression. The way he looks at Sam, almost pleading, then darts his eyes away to hide the hurt he knows might show there. The way he squares his jaw, nearly trembling with the effort of holding it together no matter what he’s hearing. It broke my heart to pieces. That’s good acting and good writing and good cinematography. Oh Show!
I want to say…wow…I’ve been looking for someone to explain to Sam’s line ab being a partner or brother. And I think you have. I thought he was saying that they couldn’t be both due the fact that them being family winds up biting in the ass. It’s been said they are each other’s weaknesses for many years now because of the lengths and depths they would go through for each other. So I thought that was what he was meaning by it. But after reading you pov and re-watching it, I can totally see where you are coming from. While I think Sam need to realize that it isn’t all Dean’s fault ab Gadreel possessing him, I understand where he would be angry. I was angry with Dean because I just had a gut feeling it was going to backfire. I didn’t want Sam to die but I thought there had to be another way. But if you take a step back and look it, Dean was just as much a victim as Sam was to Gadreel’s plan. He tricked them both.
I think Sam knew his words would hurt Dean but I don’t think Sam realized just how messed up Dean is. Finally we are getting to see Dean Winchester the man and not the big brother or the hunter. We are seeing his fragile state. Not that we didn’t get a small glimpse of it at the end of Season 5 with what he thought was the loss of his brother. Dean has the weight of the world – again – on his shoulders. Charlie’s gone, Kevin’s death, he pushed Cas away, and now Sam can’t forgive and trust him. Plus, you have the whole mark of Cain thing (which I think will eventually bite Dean in the ass). We are seeing the vulnerable and cracked psyche of Dean Winchester. And to be honest it’s killing me. I’ve always seen Dean as the strong one (not saying I ever saw Sam as weak) so to see him like this – in search of redemption – is rough on this ole gal’s emotions.
But it’s always been hard for me to Sam as the victim. I’ve just always saw him as the little brother. In Season 8, that all changed for me. I started seeing Sam for the man he is – a strong, independent, intelligent, force to be reckoned with. I think Dean still sees Sam as that little boy playing with a toy truck in the back seat of the Impala. Now, I think it’s time for his little brother to save Dean. I have a strong feeling that in the end, Sammy will Dean’s saving grace. Who knows before it’s all said and done, Dean just might fight that redemption he’s been looking for.
Oh and I give major kudos to Adam Glass for writing this and making us truly see that our boys are like a onion – they have many layers yet to still discover.
It is pretty amazing that after 9 seasons, the writers are still finding layers to peel back. The onion metaphor is a good one, since the peeling often involves alot of pain and tears, but it’s also fascinating. Seeing Dean so torn apart is gutting me – as missyjack wrote, Dean’s feelings are also often our own. That definitely holds true for me. Let’s hope the future holds some changes for the boys and some healing for our hearts 🙂
Love this review. You hit all the high notes.
I accidentally started watching the SPN pilot in September, ended up watching all 8 seasons that month, and have been re-watching ever since. I love this show because it truly plays on human emotions. I can make a case for both Sam & Dean. But I want to talk about Sam’s point of view.
Everyone’s talking about the beautiful scene in the church and it was beautiful, however the first time I saw it I thought the brothers were once again talking past each other. Sam was talking about one thing and Dean another. And they were both right. Sam was saying ‘you don’t trust me, you don’t believe in me, you think I screw everything up,need a chaperone.’ And Dean has said as much many times, even that Benny had been a better brother than Sam ever was. Dean on the other hand was talking about the fact that when it comes to Sam’s life, NOTHING else matters. Not even 6 billion people! This is why Sam said last week that his life is not worth anymore than anyone else’s life. And this week he said that he and Dean see things very differently now. In Road Trip he said he was ready/willing to die (to close the gates).
In Road Trip when Crowley told Sam to “take control” I immediately thought you need to “take control” of your life too. And he did in this episode. In the past Castiel and Sam have trusted the wrong people with disastrous results. This time it’s Dean’s lesson to learn. It’s painful for Dean as it was for Cas & Sam. And now Dean is working with a demon, the king of hell, plus this mark (from Lucifer) is definitely not going to be a good thing. In fact, I wonder if Sam’s “no brother” statement has to do with the effects of the mark kicking in.
Finally, seems John and Dean are so worried about protecting Sam they never think about what Sam wants. When Sam said he was ready to die Dean said but I wouldn’t let you cause that’s not in me. In other words it doesn’t matter what you want. What I saw in Dean’s eyes at that moment was how could you dare think of leaving me here alone. When they both died and went to heaven, it’s interesting that none of Sam’s 3 greatest hits included John or Dean. There’s a reason for that and perhaps now that Sam slammed on the brakes they can get it all sorted out.
So yeah, it was harsh, but IMO necessary to re-set their perverted co-dependent relationship. I fell in love with the Sam from season one who when his father said jump, he said “why” not how high. I want that Sam back. 🙂
P.S. – Both Winchesters feel guilty for Kevin’s death. Dean because he let the angel in the bunker. And Sam because had he died either time Kevin would be alive — no angel in the bunker. Remember Death’s lesson to Dean about disrupting the natural order?
I love this show.
i love this Show too! I’m so grateful for the Sam perspective being fleshed out in the comments here – it’s so true, Sam has learned the hard way not to trust too easily, and this time Dean has definitely picked the wrong people to trust — Gadreel, Crowley, probably Cain too. Desperation doesn’t make for the best decisions. I admit I love the brothers’ tangled codependence, but I’m eager to see it redefined into much more “co”, with both Sam and Dean wanting to be together and willing to both save each other’s butts and respect each other’s decisions. Also? S1 Sammy. *happy sigh*
Yes a thousand times on the church scene! I was caught up in the feels the first time I watched it but on further review I realized they hadn’t gotten each other at all. Sam was trying to get Dean to tell him why he wanted Sam around, like what do you value here? And Dean’s response was basically look at everything I’m willing to give up for you. And Dean is desperate and Sam gives in to that, but neither should be surprised that their differences still exist and nothing’s substantially changed.
Thanks for a wonderful review.
I’m in the camp that thinks Sam didn’t go far enough. That final scene killed me (as it did all of us). Firstly, Dean came so close to saying the words “I’m sorry”. I just groaned when he didn’t. If he could’ve just said those two words, then maybe, just maybe, Sam’s reaction might’ve been different (or at least a little less harsh).
And while I wished Dean had said “I’m sorry”, I also wished that Sam had kept talking – like really spelled out to Dean why he was so upset. And this brings me to the scene in the church in Sacrifice.
A few people have mentioned that this episode has diminished that scene for them, but it hasn’t for me. I still believe this was a genuine and heartfelt reaction by Dean; he does put his brother above everything else (we all know that and we love him dearly for it). But I don’t think Sam can possibly believe it right now, given everything that has happened since that moment. He desperately needs Dean to prove it to him.
Try putting yourself in Sam’s shoes: Imagine going through that final trial, emotionally baring yourself to your brother (usually very difficult for Sam), telling your brother how much it hurts that he trusted an angel and a vampire over you… to then be convinced by your brother that this isn’t true, that he trusts you, that going forward you’ll fight this battle together.
Fast forward several months to suddenly have all these memories flooding back from your ‘lost’ time when you were possessed by Gadreel – to realize that Dean never gave you a choice, to realize how often Dean lied to you during that period (remember the scene in the car when Dean said “would I lie?” about Sam’s lost time).
I know Dean had an impossible choice to make and I know Sam said yes (because he trusted Dean had a good plan). But, Dean could’ve told Sam about the angel possession as soon as Sam was conscious. He could’ve let Sam decide if he wanted to live (through possession) or risk dying by expelling the angel. Dean took that choice away from Sam and lied about it for several months.
And the most heartbreaking part of it all for Sam is Kevin’s death (especially after his conversation with Death). Dean might accept responsibility for Kevin’s death, but we all know that Sam will carry that burden anyway.
A lot of people have mentioned that Dean is in a dark place and, yes, he definitely is. But I think Sam is also in a dark place… and I don’t think he can see beyond his own grief (yet) to understand why Dean did what he did. I have faith that Sam will eventually get to that point, but I think it’s unrealistic for anyone to expect that it won’t take time.
Compounding the problem in this episode were the additional lies that Dean told Sam when they were looking for Garth. So, yes, I think Sam should’ve gone much further in that final conversation. There was a pause before he said “those are my terms” and I think he ended the conversation so abruptly because he couldn’t find the words he needed to express himself.
I agree with your comment about the way Adam Glass wrote the dialogue as stilted and often trailing off into silence. It’s real. We often can’t think of the right things to say.
Even though it hurts to watch, I’m glad we haven’t had a quick fix to the brothers’ problems. And, being the optimistic that I am, I think they’ve both taken small steps back towards one another. Dean tried to talk to Sam. Sam got back in the impala. I’m looking forward (I think) to what happens next.
Sorry I rambled so long. This episode (and the response from some people online) really got to me 🙂
Thank you SO MUCH for this response! You put into kindly words exactly what I’d been feeling about this episode!
I am loving all the thoughtful responses to this article, especially all the insight into Sam’s perspective. I so agree, they are both in a dark place and both feeling terribly guilty about a multitude of things. Someone up thread said that the problem with the church scene was that Dean and Sam were sort of talking past each other, both trying so hard to share their genuine feelings but both emphasizing something slightly different. God knows the Winchesters’ communication skills are always part of their problem!
I do agree with you about Dean’s choice not to tell Sam about the possession as soon as he woke up – it was clearly what he intended when he made the initial decision, to give Sam that choice. He knew how important that was. But Gadreel rather masterfully manipulated him out of it by playing on the most effective ploy in the universe when it comes to Dean Winchester — threatening that Sam would die. That terror that Dean feels at the very thought tanks his decision making in a heartbreaking way, to Sam’s detriment — and to Dean’s.
Damned if these boys don’t both know everything there is to know about making bad decisions…but I suppose that’s what has kept Show going for 9 seasons. I’m joining you in cautious optimism, but keeping my box of tissues at the ready!
So I loved the last 3 minutes. I’m a Dean girl, and believe me my Dean feels are in critical condition, but I’m really engaged with the potential evolution this moment, and this season, is posing. I’ve loved the tangled Winchester emotional mess of bro-dependence, but I do not love what it is doing to them as people. They will never be normal siblings, and they will never be normal people with normal lives. They will never even be healthy. They will always be haunted by the tragedies, the betrayals and martyrdom and the ‘roles’ they’ve had to play, to each other and in the course of their journey. But I hope this strip-down is the beginning of a new better brother bond, that sees them stronger and united in a new way, because seeing what that way might be has me excited. As you point out, they are effing awesome when they are in sync.
I didn’t take what Sam said as a rejection, or even blaming. I just took it as being honest. With a dollop of self-preservation. I never heard ‘we can’t be brothers’, I heard ‘we need a new model.’ I don’t think its possible for Sam to articulate everything that needs to be said..take the rest of the season and he might make a start. And certainly Dean is in no position to grasp much, so depleted as he is. Sam probably could have told him he didn’t like what he had for lunch and Dean would have blamed himself and looked heartbroken about it. Bringing up the church seemed harsh, but I think Sam has every right to question Dean’s motivations (not his love). WE know Dean’s words were true, but the next episode Dean let Gadreel used the very same sentiments to manipulate Sam. I literally feel sick for these two, it hurts!!! They have so much to work through. But because this is SPN I love it.
I feel Sam using the word ‘roles’ is significant. “This whole thing” has so many contexts..their relationship and the myth-arc big picture are the obvious ones. But this season EVERYONE is working out their roles,…Cas (bless him, I love where he’s at), Charlie; they’ve chosen. But there is so much moral grey area…Crowley’s kinda good…Garth’s kinda ‘evil’ (using the old DW scale of supernatural entity = bad)…Cain was an in-your-face dichotomy. Even Gadreel…How does Dean reconcile the fact that Kevin is dead at his hand, but also Sam, Charlie and Cas are all alive because of that same hand? No wonder Dean’s moral compass is screwed to hell. When all else fails Dean Winchester fights, he’s righteous – believing in a cause (its easier than believing in yourself), but as he said, the playbook is gone this time. He has Abaddon at least, but that may mean making his own choice of who he’s going to be…(maybe with love playing a role, similar to Sam’s choice in the church).
The players are coming to terms with who they need to be, not who they were. And it seems to me the Winchesters are too. I’m ready for them to define themselves, not wholly by each other or the roles they assume in the big fights. And then, build a new bond of brotherhood on that–one where they are truly supportive and are confident in their love for each other. For me, its time. Oops, I rambled, sorry!
Never be sorry for rambling, I love your thinky thoughts about S9 and where the brothers are going! You make such a good point about what Sam said about their ‘roles’ being messed up. I don’t think he was very articulate (which is part of why I loved the way Glass wrote the scene, because they wouldn’t be in this situation!) and so I think what he said was heard by Dean (and many fans) as the most negative and horrifying interpretation. We heard, and Dean heard, “you’re not my brother.” But that’s not really what Sam said, and I don’t believe for a second that it’s what he meant. Dean’s not in an emotional position to hear anything else, primed for blame because he’s ravaged with guilt — and apparently I was primed for it right along with him! But yes, I’m hoping that what you said is true and that’s where they end up — supportive and confident in their love for each other 🙂
So far this season we’ve seen Sam be inhabited by and retain some of an angel’s “grace,” which has made him more absolute, more like the dick angels of season 4. And we’ve seen Dean try to justify the means he uses by the end he wants to achieve, sort of like the demons of season 4. I’m thinking the writers have something great in mind, and it should end with what you hope for–Sam saving Dean. Of course, to do it, he’s going to have to get off his angelic high horse.
I’ll be both dumbfounded and ecstatic if things end up with anything like what I hope for. But I’m an optimist, so I’ll keep hoping 🙂
I think I mostly agree with you here. I liked the conflict, actually. I also like that they are so hurt right now (both of them) and that Sam is lashing out. I think it’s pretty typical for Sam to do that – lash out verbally. Dean is the one who’d go and beat his brother with fists, and I can relate to that a lot. i know it’s wrong to beat your sibling bloody, but I get the overwhelming feeling of anger and hurt that words wouldn’t be enough, that everything you say would not bring across what you feel as much as a punch would (or a kick or a bite). So in that regard, I understand Dean much better.
Sam can work with words. He always could, he’s smart and his words can cut so deep that he doesn’t really need his fists. Maybe because when he was a kid, he was so much weaker than Dean and John that he never even considered to use force. Probably something like that caused him to use his smart and his words to sting.
Throughout the show, Sam never punches Dean when he’s in his right mind (he does when possessed, but never pure-Sam). He refuses to punch Dean after the vampire-thing, because he doesn’t see the benefit in it. For Dean, though, a well-earned punch (or two) would be much better because well, for HIM that would have been it. He’d have shown his anger and pain and could let it go.
maybe Sam doesn’t work that way, or he just doesn’t understand the reasoning of his brother. Don’t know, but he never does it like that. He cuts with his words, in the earlier seasons with little stings and disbelief about Dean’s intelligence and a lot of times with other words.
I do understand that way to hurt too, but I also see that it’s what hurts Dean more than a punch could ever do. Might be intentional from Sam, but I don’t think he realizes that.
“Sam has also lied to and manipulated Dean in his well-intentioned alliance with Ruby, so he knows what it’s like to have to earn back trust. Dean has also felt betrayed and knows what it feels like to be tricked and lied to. I have to believe that deep down these two still love each other more than anything else on earth.”
That’s what made me frown. Because while I understand that Sam is angry and see that he is right about being angry, he’s putting on a double-standard here.
When Dean said after Ruby that he can’t trust Sam right now, Sam walked away and said “We can’t work together if we don’t trust each other” – and now, suddenly it’s ok to not trust your work-partner? I don’t think he thought that through 😉
I also highly doubt that Sam DOESN’T trust Dean. He has to, because in their line of work it’s usually a life-or-death-situation, and without trusting that your partner will pull you out of the fire, you can’t work right.
Sam trusted Dean to come to their rescue in the barn. he KNEW Dean would come, because Dean always comes for him. And he would definitely still trust Dean to always save him if he can. As I’m sure Sam will always and forever save Dean when the need arises.
So his words, cutting as they may have been, aren’t really changing anything. Yes, Sam might not trust Dean to tell the truth when it comes to Sam’s safety. But he would and will trust him when it comes to safety, and he will trust him to have his back.
I don’t know if Dean understands it like that, or if he really thinks that their relationship now is truly one-way only? I hope he does, but he’s always been a mess and he’s ALWAYS believed that there is nobody as invested in the family as him.
John wasn’t, Sam might not be.(as Dean saw it with Ruby, in “Dark side of the moon”, Sam not even looking for a way to get him out of Purgatory,…) So for him, it’s always been kinda one-sided and he might believe that now, it’s completely one-sided.
He is wrong, I’m sure. Sam was never sorry to have inadvertently killed that Jogger when he brought Dean to the Faith-healer, if I remember correctly, he even said that he doesn’t care about that guy so much, because Dean is alive and that is all that mattered to him in that situation.
So, long long explanation short: I think it really IS high-time for Sam to get his big-brother boots on and save his little big brother 😉 Just to show both of them that he can do it – and WANTS to do it.
You’re so right, the brothers have always expressed their hurt and anger in different ways — Dean with his fists, Sam with his words (with a very few notable exceptions). I think Dean would prefer being pummelled to a bloody pulp than to hear Sam express doubt about them being able to be brothers — nothing could ever hurt Dean like that, it’s what he fears above all else, even going to hell.
Let’s hope they can both remember that their positions have been reversed at times, so they can have some true empathy for each other, because yes, they both are hurting.
Me too! lol
Great review of Sharp Teeth. My feelings are that both brothers have done and said things that are wrong. Right now Sam is hurting just as much as Dean and this is his way of lashing out at him. As another poster mentioned when Dean vents it is more “physical” while Sam is more “verbal” with the hurt. I feel that Dean did the right thing in saving Sam but in the end they both got screwed once again by the angels.
I see how much Dean is hurting emotionally but so is Sam. Sam is broken inside. How he sees himself is so sad. He thinks he is a failure to the person who matters the most to him….Dean. What I found interesting is that Garth pointed out that Sam is insecure. I agree with that. I think Sam feels this way because Dean makes decisions for Sam instead of trusting that Sam can make good decisions.
I do love protective big brother Dean and he will never stop protecting his little brother, but Dean also has to let Sam grow up. It is hard for Dean, but Dean did an amazing job raising Sam. Dean is not only Sam’s big brother but he was also Sam’s mother and father. Sam was taught by the best and Sam does know this. Another problem on the show is TPTB need to show us Sam’s emotional POV. He is always the mystery…why? The amount of fans that want to hear and see what Sam is thinking is phenomenal. I have seen Dean’s POV from the beginning and expect to continue seeing it. Supernatural is told through Dean’s eyes. However, Sam needs a voice. I want Sam pouring his heart out to Dean. I want Sam crying. Sacrifice gave us a glimpse of what is going on in Sam, now they need to have Sam let it all out. There is a lot going on in his head.
I will agree that Sam needs a mark in the win column by helping Dean. This would be a good start in helping Sam heal. Even better yet, let the brothers talk it out for more than 5 minutes, air out all their issues, and give us that amazing brotherly hug we want to see. They will help each other heal and be stronger in the end once this new situation resolves. If we get S10, and we all know we will, I do know I don’t want to see this spill over into S10. I want the brothers working as a team and not dealing with any of these issues which can all be resolved come the end of this season.
You make a good point — I’ve loved reading all the comments here that help me get inside Sam’s headspace, because I usually end up being in Dean’s. What Dean feels, I feel. I usually understand where he’s coming from even if I can see that it’s a disastrous place. I struggle more to empathize with Sam sometimes, and maybe it’s because it’s not as easy to pull that from the Show itself. I agree, I’d love to hear more from Sam and especially to SEE more from Sam’s pov. He’s hurting to much and has been for so long, and I’m starting to feel like now my heart is breaking for *both* of them and I just need MORE tissues!
amazing review well seriously this all MU n sam accusing dean 4 no reason n guilty n alone (bt hawt;) ) dean make me cry hope they ll back as brothers soon cs this is spn is all abt n 9 years we r part of this family so its really hurt all fans
*hands you a box of tissues and tackles with hugs* It’s hard being a fangirl sometimes! 🙂
I LOVED your review of this episode!! I completely agree with what you said about the last few moments. My heart was breaking. I was screaming at the tv, “No Sam, don’t say it, don’t you dare say it!!”. And then he said it. It was painful, gut-wrenching and completely SUPERNATURAL.
I was completely surprised that Garth is now a But I firmly believe we just need to watch the show. We need to let it simmer, let it steep, let it UNFOLD. Yeah sure, I’d love for the boys to hug it out and get back to the way they used to be. But thank god we don’t always get what we want even if it is what we think we desperately NEED! We need to watch it as a whole, as an entire story and not from chapter to chapter. And this is specifically targeted to the haters, to the people who are giving the writers (Adam, really) so much grief. It is their story to tell! It’s their show! Of course we can disagree. Of course we can hate what they’re doing to Dean and Sam. Of course we can dissect EVERY word and every slanted glance. I LOVE that!! I love that we get the opportunity. But it needs to respectful. We have so much passion because of our desperate NEED for this show but we need to remember to LOVE. I thank god for Adam and the team of writers because of their superb ability to put word to paper. Do you guys (not you, Fangasm, you guys are also superb!) know how hard that is?!?
Anyway, I’ve gone on and on. Thanks for allowing me to vent!!
I love all the comments here, it’s been a great discussion and I love that our readers are always respectful of each other and can share different points of view — I learn so much from engaging in this kind of discussion. It’s part of what I so love about fandom!
I’ve loved having similar discussion with the writers, who I firmly believe are the best writing staff in the entire business. I know how much they care, and god knows, I know how hard writing a book is — how you go about writing an ongoing television show for 9 freaking years is utterly beyond me! I totally get why fans are passionate and I’m all for disagreement, but I also believe we’re all in this together. #SPNFamily, it’s more than just a hashtag 🙂
As usual, while I disagree with you on a few points, your article is articulate and well written, and certainly enthusiastic! Everything I’ve come to expect from Fangasm. While this episode won’t go down as one of my favorites, you’ve helped me to at least see and appreciate more to it.
While I have always loved the brother’s relationship, I’ve longed for years for it to come to a healthier place. I do NOT want them perpetually fighting, and think that the narrative has overused that to interject drama too many times, to the point where there are fans in any segment of our fragmented fanbase who groan every time they start to fight.
I want Sam and Dean to help each other, love each other, and even find each other dependable (where they can count on each other), but I do not want “codependence” as it were, in the psychological aspect of codependency.
I think that’s been used as a rallying term incorrectly for some time now, and romanticized within the fandom to an unhealthy degree: I won’t even put that on the show. Supernatural has SHOWN the harmful effects of codependency, whereas the fandom grasps for that term and attempts to portray it positively incorrectly.
It’s the difference between (to put it in terms that will probably be particularly relevant next episode) “I wish I could lose some weight” and “Anorexia is great!” You don’t romanticize a real, damaging condition. Whether or not you’re doing it in fiction or in real life is irrelevant: that should not be something spun into a positive, because the message there is harmful. Additionally, it doesn’t really do anything positive as regards to establishing them as individuals, and is pretty unforgiving a view of them as people: codependency relies upon narcissism or inverted narcissism. I see more to these characters than that.
While there is the aspect of putting another person’s needs first to codependency, that can be done as familial love and devotion without it edging into codependent behaviors. I hope to see that for our boys: not because I want their lives to be roses and rainbows (where’s the fun in that?) but because it would be character growth, and character growth is interesting. Stagnation is death, as they say. Shake it up a bit!
Which isn’t to say that I want their relationship to snap-change. A lot of fans were hopeful about the last episode because it felt as if a natural change is in progress within that relationship. I’m a cynic by now, and I want to see follow-through on emotional development from episode to episode prior to coming to that conclusion, so I’m in the “wait and see” crowd in a lot of matters.
Meanwhile, just a brief (probably pretty handwaveable as interpretation) point of disagreement: I do not see Dean resenting Castiel for helping Sam (“That’s my job!”) in that scene at all, particularly since we have scenes in the past where Dean prays for Cas to help him, Dean ASKED for Cas to help him in the last interactions we have with all three, etc.
I DO concede some awkwardness. My personal interpretation (and as I try to fix a canon break that has Cas in the span of an episode healing Cas after all this mess) is that maybe if it were that “easy” he should have asked earlier, etc etc. I just do not at all see resentment from Dean as regards to not being the one to help Sam, particularly considering he left Sam and Cas with each other with that purpose in mind after Castiel identified that he could heal Sam in stages.
I’m going to watch the changing dynamic of the characters in order to see what happens, but I’m trying not to veer too far in either direction at the moment on how I see it going. I hope for slow, natural growth for all of the characters, and the return to the forefront of the season of the mytharc we get in bits and pieces. So many villains! So many factions! I’d like them to give us more of that driving goal for the guys.
Again, though: a very thought-provoking and articulate personal review! See you next week as we ogle Sam in those shorts and that shirt.
I’m so loving all the insightful comments here, each with a slightly different take on this episode and a different hope for the direction the Show takes us. That’s got to say something amazing about a Show in its 9th season, no matter how you look at it!
I actually don’t disagree that the brother’s relationship needs to grow in some way – nobody wants to see the same arguments repeated again and again, since that’s both boring and terribly frustrating. And I certainly don’t think codependence in real life is anything remotely good, it’s not. But I like alot of things in fiction that I hate in real life – that’s part of the purpose of fiction, to explore the things that you don’t even want to exist in the real world. I don’t think people should go out of their way to be vampires either, but in fiction, it’s something I love to see safely explored. I like Sam and Dean being codependent, and it makes narrative sense considering their backgrounds of repeated trauma. I’d love to see them grow into a different kind of codependence though, with the emphasis more on the “co”. I fell in love with them as tangled together, effed up characters, and I don’t want that to change entirely — it wouldn’t be believable to me if they ended up poster boys for healthy. But there’s plenty of room for change within that paradigm that wouldn’t be stagnant and wouldn’t be OOC too.
I’ve seen so many explanations of Dean’s reaction to Sam and Cas working together – I still think he was jealous, that’s how Jensen seemed to play it. Perhaps jealous also that Cas is bonding with Sam, when it’s Dean who has always counted on having the more ‘profound bond’ with Cas. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both – Dean doesn’t like being left out, especially by the two people he cares most for in the world. Doesn’t matter that it was entirely his decision or that it makes sense, jealousy often doesn’t 🙂
I enjoy the discussion too! And hey, I can see it maybe as jealousy: Dean is the central figure in both Sam and Cas’s life, and it COULD be unsettling to someone like Dean, who thrives on being needed, to have them interacting outside of their mutual connection to him. I declared it awkwardness, but I can give you jealousy there.
The situation could leave him (unrightfully, we know) feeling usurped in his role within their lives. That’s all interpretive either way, though, so I am hesitant to declare one answer entirely “RIGHT!” and the others therefore “WRONG!” I think we’re a little too quick to that in online fandom, which discounts that fiction is all open to Reader/Viewer Response.
I’m sneaking in LitCrit again, sorry, but I’ll be doing it again in a moment.
So, back to codependency! This is such a hot-button within this fandom because of how it’s been used as a rallying term that I usually figure my view is going to get some pushback.
Now, applying psychoanalytical criticism to a literary work, we’re all able to pretty much pick out major themes like the codependency, like Dean’s reliance on alcohol as a coping mechanism, etc.
However, when you’re portraying a psychological condition within literature, or television, it is essential that you do it respectfully. Inaccurate, romanticized or caricatured versions of problematic elements can either create a false positive association (how many girls are trying to lose weight to fit an arbitrary and impossible body ideal, or want an “Edward!!” to stand outside their windows stalking them, for them to throw their life away to!) or reinforce existing stereotypes, thus increasing associated stigma (only cartoon villains have mental illnesses!).
As such, the fandom (and I have to keep reiterating, I believe this is primarily fandom-driven) response of romanticizing the codependency that has ripped their lives apart, cost friends, and created negative senses of self-worth outside of each other, I personally consider dangerous.
I’m not asking that they be turned into the poster children for mental health. I don’t see that happening in their life. But, once again, use of codependent as something that is positive is misuse of the term codependent.
I think people want them as caring equals–“codependency” AS A TERM is exactly the opposite. It was, after all, coined by Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s an addictive behavior.
It means denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, control patterns, etc.
I want them to rely on each other. But I also want them to respect each other, trust each other, and work alongside each other as equals. As such, I’d love a different term than relegates them to being entirely reliant upon the other for their own self-worth.
Ohdear, Twilight. Excellent (though arghhh) way to make your point 🙂 I think we’re actually agreeing at this point. lol
I have to reply to this comment because silly wordpress won’t let me reply to your inthread one. You’re right, romanticizing is dangerous – I like that canon doesn’t romanticize their codependence. I’m fine with them moving a bit in the direction of being caring equals, but not sure I want them to get all the way there (Sorry, boys). What I’m saying, and it sounds sketchy I know, is that I like my fictional characters to remain effed up sometimes. It gives them something to fight against, something to strive for, something to fail at – which makes them all them more human and all the more heroic, especially when it comes from a place of (perhaps slightly twisted) love. I’m not a big TVD fan, but it’s the same way fans like the vampires not to be ‘too good’, to still do effed up things (like killing people occasionally…) — not to say that’s “okay” or romanticize it, but to keep those characters nuanced and always painted in shades of grey. There’s a bit of guilt in there every time we still are drawn to them when they’re ‘bad’ that makes for compelling media storytelling, I think. Don’t psychoanalyze that one too much tho 🙂
Brodependence? That’s the writers’ term and I kinda like it. We can reclaim it and make it a not-romanticized, a bit closer to the real life caring equals idea, but still a bit effed up too. Those are characters I can keep being fascinated by.
What you’re asking for, then, is actually Interdependence. Mutual and healthier dependence upon the other. However, to achieve that you would need to address the codependent behaviors which take it instead into a pathology.
I’m going to use an example that makes me cringe, but . . . well, what can you do?
The last major franchise to rely upon romanticized codependency as its core was the Twilight Saga.
And ANYONE with any feminist leanings in media has pretty much shined a spotlight on that in the man/woman relationship of the book as being dangerous for the audience to idealize. The idea of Bella wanting to die because Edward left her, the idea that her life was only fulfilled because Edward found her worthy, the idea of building her life entirely around another, etc. We DO NOT want the audience of Twilight to romanticize that notion, but it is presented in a romantic light EVEN AS it is shown within the books to be pretty damaging to the character involved. It is never addressed within the text, though, so it remains the “fairytale!” that the readers clung to.
That idealization is no less dangerous here. In fact, one could argue it’s moreso, because this is nine years now of it being left unresolved and idealized within the fanbase. That’s a long time to grab ahold of an idea and internalize it.
I don’t want them fixed entirely either. Trust me, I love an effed up character. They’re actually typically my favorite figures in fiction (all my favorite fictional men seem to be effed up but ultimately good with issues and bad coping methods, etc. We’re gonna put all three of the SPN boys into that, and mix in Logan Echolls, and Peter Bishop, etc).
But I do want growth, I want some movement towards the healthy relationship, and I’m hopeful that what we’re seeing is a narrative address of the past toxicity that took them into pathological codependency, rather than just brotherly love and support.
I agree with Emily. Dean would never resent Cas for helping Sam. EVER.
He’s trusted Cas so many times to care for the most important person in his life, Sam. How can anyone get that impression at this point? After Cas being sacrificed and kicked out of the bunker, after he promptly forgives Dean and comes to HELP him get Gadreel out of Sam.
Same here. I took Dean’s reaction not as jealousy at all, but another sneer at himself. What I saw was Dean telling himself “I was right to leave and trust Cas to help in ways that I never can, oh and there was still some of that angel infecting Sam – yep I’m still effing-up even when I’m gone”.
To me, it was Dean helping himself to an extra spoon of the DW self-loathing special.
Ohdear, Twilight. Excellent (though arghhh) way to make your point 🙂 I think we’re actually agreeing at this point. lol
I want to add that while in the end, Gadreel used his position inside Sam for the wrong side of life, I highly doubt that that’s what he started with.
He wanted to redeem himself, wanted to show that he’s never been intentionally bad when he let Lucifer into Paradise, and he wanted to help Dean and Sam. He got (once again – poor guy is a little too easy to manipulate) tricked by Metatron into killing Kevin – though he still wants to do the “right” thing and help all the fallen angels (and thereby redeem himself).
His reasoning though is that the greater good would outweigh the small good – and that’s why he killed his friend in “Road Trip”. He chose the big good over his “family”, and that’s the one thing Dean won’t do. Never – he always only wanted Sam safe and happy, and no good is greater than that.
Hm, I just wanted to remind you (and others) that Gadreel didn’t set out to betray Dean and Sam the way he did. He knew Sam would force him out if he knew about him,and he also realized that since he lied about his name, Cas would tell the Winchesters that it’s not Zeke, and that the angel inside is “bad” (because he believes so)
Had that not happened, had Zeke not been persuaded onto the dark side, I think the repercussions would have been a lot less severe.
BUT: Sam would still be very, very upset and angry about Dean’s choice, thought without Kevin’s death, it would have been the focus for Dean and he would have been forced to understand that Sam’s not angry about being used to kill, but about being unasked-possessed. We’d still be in the same situation we are now – the brothers at odds. But there would be one less friend dead.
Good point! I like the way they’ve portrayed Gadreel as a nuanced character, who we can feel a bit sorry for at times. I do think you’re right, he’s prioritizing what he believes to be the ‘greater good’ (often a dangerous thing) in contrast to Dean, who decided to prioritize one person’s (Sam) life over a way to (possibly) close the gates of hell. Sam is struggling with being the one person who was prioritized, and understandably so – he’s thinking more of the greater good right now himself, and I get why. What a tangled mess they’ve all gotten themselves into! I’ve said it before and it really does seem to be true – Metatron is the scariest villain of all this season.
Loved the article and the back and forth on this. I had a different interpretation on the conversation, and reference to the church scene. I don’t think Sam was saying they couldn’t be brothers, or that he was disowning Dean. I think he was saying – let’s work together but, with the brother thing, that’s going to take more than just working together/being together; being brothers is something they BOTH need to work on. Sam brought up the fact that something is wrong/broke, and Dean acknowledged it. I don’t think Sam had a quick answer on how to fix it, and that’s why Sam kind of tailed off at the end of that conversation. The we’re family card isn’t going to cut it this time; just as Bobby said family doesn’t end with blood, blood doesn’t make you family, you’ve got to earn that. But, ultimately, the fact that Sam got in the car with Dean meant to me that he hadn’t given up, and was willing to work on it.
As far as Sam’s reference to their conversation in the church, the events of 9.01 happened immediately after 8.23 Sacrifice. To me, it makes perfect sense that Sam would question what Dean said in the church; I don’t think he was blaming Dean for talking him out of finishing the trials, he was questioning Dean’s words/motive for doing so. What Dean did to Sam in having him possessed was really, really, bad. Of course he had the best of intentions in saving his brother, but violated his agency, his free will, in doing so.
Sam was harsh but, just as Dean was in 5.01, it was something that needed to be said.
I agree, I don’t think Sam was saying that either – as I said somewhere up thread, I think Dean was primed to hear that, mired in self-blame, so that’s what he heard. Sam getting in the car with Dean is a step towards working things out – it means he does have some hope that they can work out different roles that will let them be brothers again for real. In the meantime, tho, it sure did hurt!
This was a great review. I have to admit that I was a little confused by the conversation between the Boys at the end of the episode, but I think your assessment is correct. My heart breaks for both of them. Family, and primarily Sam, mean everything to Dean, and he feels that he has screwed that up – his “one job”. He is in such a dark place and I worry about him. With regard to Sam, he has every right to be angry. Dean has been his hero – he has been “following him around since he was four years old”, and all he wants is to be treated as an equal, to make his own decisions. I call it the big brother/little brother syndrome, but it is so much more complicated than that because they also have a parent/child relationship. I would love to see Sam save Dean (I have a hard time watching Season 3), and because of it, the Boys come to a place where they are both happy with their relationship.
They heartbreaking part of all of this is that they are both so right and they are both so wrong, which is what made that final scene in “Sacrifice” so amazing. Jensen and Jared have done an unbelievably fabulous job with these characters, and I am glad that I get to go along for the ride.
By the way, I really enjoyed “Fangasm”. It is good to know that there are a lot of other smart, professional woman/mothers out there that are also fangirls.
You’re so right, Sam and Dean’s relationship is even more complicated and turbulent than most sibling relationships, because Dean is much more than a brother to Sam, he’s a parent figure too. And Sam is more than a little brother, Dean also sees him still as his child, his responsibility, even as a grown man. No wonder they’re both struggling so much!
So glad you enjoyed “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls”!! There are SO many smart fangirls out there — just look at the comments here 🙂
This is quite an insightful article though you mention that family means everything to Dean and he doesn’t define it narrowly and that his family include Bobby, Kevin and Charlie too, but I think its a bit discourteous that you haven’t included Cas in this. Cas is as much family to Dean as Bobby, Kevin and Charlie.
Omg that is a complete Freudian slip — of *course* Dean (and Sam) consider Cas to be family! It goes so much without saying that I didn’t say it – I was thinking of people who would be ‘outside’ TFW and so didn’t mention Cas. I’ll edit it now, tho, because it looks like I wasn’t including him. Ack! Thank you!!!
Dean did refer to Cas as family when he was trying to talk him out of taking the souls from purgatory or opening purgatory. So Dean has referred to cas as that he was not left out.
It would be nice if people stopped romanticising the idea of psychologically depend on your loved ones. It always happens to some extent but Sam and Dean have gone too far on their relationship to not consider collateral damage. Their ‘bond’ or whatever it is they have, is too toxic right now for them to manage to have their own lives. They’re brothers, they’re not the same person. And that’s why whenever they cross THAT line they make each other miserable. It makes me unhappy seeing them like that, it makes me unhappy that the decisions they illegitimately make for each other costs their own family. Kevin was family. Kevin was one of the many sacrificed loved ones. Cas could be next, and honestly I won’t keep supporting Supernatural if that happens because that would mean there’s nothing left for me to relate to. At what cost are they keeping this up? So, if 9×12 makes them step aside a little and mature, I say HELL YES. I want them as close to happiness, side by side hunting, as they can be. I want them surrounded by loved ones. I’m sick of this ‘only-bros’ perspective of the show, because SPN is so much more than Dean and Sam. And honestly, it’s no demon and no angel who’re making the brothers crash. They’re burning from the inside out.
Ain’t that the truth – no argument here. I don’t disagree with you at all, it’s clear they can’t stay stuck where they are right now without, as you say, burning from the inside out. In fact, they should both listen to the voices of wisdom in their lives a bit more — especially Cas.
I just have to say, that while this episode DID pack an emotional punch, I think the writers are quick to forget that the brothers don’t have to be conflicting to create conflict.
Take, for example, season 3. I think that season quite possibly showed the absolute strongest connection between the brothers. Because they were working together. The scene at the end of “A Very Supernatural Christmas” is probably my favorite of all time.
Why are we giving that up? Why must conflicts be exacerbated and contrived for the sake of storytelling, after the heart-rending events of “Sacrifice?”
Honestly, knowing the traditional mythos of the Mark of Cain, they are sitting on a GOLD MINE of conflict here. Not the least of which being, how will Dean (and Sam!) deal with Dean’s potential immortality? PLUS we have the Abaddon plot (which meshes with the MoC), AND the Angelic Turf Wars (with bonus re-angelfied!Cas). That’s a LOT going on right there. Why make the brothers have an unnecessary “falling out” when they’re stronger together.
That’s not to say, however, that they shouldn’t work out their deals. I’d just like to see them handle it with something resembling maturity, instead of hitting where it hurts for the sake of hurting.
If the Winchesters were listening in, they’d be feeling pretty damn immature by now. lol. I think that’s something everyone is in agreement on 🙂 And wow, hearing all the upcoming inevitable conflicts set out like that really makes it clear that this ain’t gonna be no cakewalk even if they *are* on the same page! *bites nails*
ps – the ending scene of AVSC is probably my all time favorite too 🙂
I’m really invested with the MoC storyline right now, because it sets them up for a FANTASTIC series finale. Imagine it:
Sam has a guaranteed spot in heaven (due to the MoC lore), so he lives his life however he sees fit, and finally dies for good. And Dean lets him go. Sammy is finally happy, and able to rest.
Dean is still immortal. Still young and beautiful and bada**. And Castiel, his best friend, is immortal, too. Dean hated Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Cas doesn’t exactly fit in anywhere, either. So the two of them take off in the Impala, saving people, hunting things…forever.
“Right now, it’s too painful to be pleasurable, even if it turns out to be good storytelling in the long run.” Excellent summary of what’s killing us in fandom. I’m glad you brought up Adam Glass’ tweet too. The way I see it, the problem is that the writers know where Jeremy Carver is taking the boys’ relationship. We, the viewers, do not. We are left only with fear that we won’t like Jeremy’s vision of a “Mature” relationship. I wouldn’t mind a bumpy road if I knew where we were headed. I am all for a better, tighter relationship between Sam and Dean, IF Jeremy would just come out and say, “don’t worry, I promise it will be OK in the end!” He hasn’t said that though and I’m afraid we are going to have to wait until the end of s10 for his vision to reveal itself. Jeremy gave us a horrible S&D relationship the first half of s8. We were all scared silly that our brothers were being destroyed. Jeremy completely and totally redeemed himself the second half of s8, culminating in Sacrifice. We were relieved and hopeful again. The first half of s9 has given us some great moments and great story telling. Then in Sharp Teeth, Jeremy said, “Oh, wait, you really don’t know what I have in mind for these boys” and scared us back to S8 issues. Fandom is just plain scared that Jeremy will change the show too much. Do we believe the Jeremy from S8 or S9?
To save my own mental health, I’m choosing to believe the Jeremy from the end of S8. In fact, I’m avoiding reading his interviews this season. I’ve gone through enough tissues already! I can’t handle a panic attack too 🙂
But seriously, I think you make a good point. It’s the not knowing that both makes for investment in the Show and also drives us nuts. It’s a fine line between a little anxiety and a healthy fear of the unknown, and an abject hopelessness that just leaves you depressed. I’m trying to stay on the right side here!
After each episode, I look forward to your review. This review was excellent and I think you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for providing thoughtful commentary. I sometimes wonder if I am nuts because, though I never watch TV, I have fallen completely in love with a TV show. It’s nice to come here and find insightful writing that reaffirms for me the depth I find in the writing and acting. Thanks!
You’re definitely not nuts — just look at the smart, insightful, respectful comments and the exchange of opinions here. I love that about fandom – especially this fandom. It’s striking how many people fell in love with SPN and have never experienced that sort of thing before — it must say something very good about our Show 🙂 That’s exactly why we wrote “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls”, to challenge any sort of fan shame and to celebrate this wild and crazy roadtrip love affair with a television show that we all share!
Wonderful review. You put a lot of what I was feeling into actual words. It was good getting the MotW episode, but the last few minutes tore at my heart. 🙁 However, I like that Adam Glass didn’t gloss over their issues. Sam is hurt and pissed and in real life sometimes it takes some real time to get over major betrayals. Dean can’t just say “We’re family” and fix it all. Trust needs to be earned again and he needs to see that his Sammy is a grown man that can make adult decisions. I’m hoping that working together, but still having that distance will allow the brothers to mend the hurts, to fall back into the fun, loving brothers (getting to know one another again). No lies, no deception needs to be the theme between them.
And I was part of the Fandom portion #3: Where the hell is Cas? LOL 2 weeks without Cas 🙁 sometimes he’s a good mediator, maybe he can slap some sense into them 🙂
Thanks for the reviews. I look forward to reading them each week.
You’re very welcome – thanks for the insightful comment! I know there was alot of #3 out there, and I agree, the boys could really have used some of his wise counsel 🙂
Another brilliant review and I love that you have such an… open view on the current state of the brother’s relationship. I know there’s a split in the fandom at the minute – some think Sam is out of order with everything he said to Dean, other’s think Dean never should have made that deal with Gadreel. Me? I’m not angry at either of them.
I understand why Dean did what he did; his whole life has been about “watching out for Sammy” and he was never going to be able to just let his little brother die. That’s not in him. It “goes against every fibre [he’s] got” to quote ‘Swan Song’. I could never be mad at Dean for doing that one thing he’s been doing his entire life – saving his little brother. And I mean, wouldn’t most of us make a deal like this if it would save someone we loved?
But, Sam has been manipulated his entire life; by Yellow-Eyes, Ruby, Lucifer, the angels – even John forced him into a life he never wanted! The only one (in my opinion) that he has ever been able to trust is Dean – his brother, father, mother, best friend and protector. To suddenly have that person – that one person – break his trust and trick him has to hurt. So, yeah, I think Sam has a right to be angry.
Honestly, I don’t think there will be a quick fix to this fight either. This is a completely different situation, but I’m a little sister who has had her trust broken by an older brother and has lost faith in said brother; I know how hard it is to just forgive and forget when a sibling does something that hurts you. That being said – I still love my brother, and I have no doubts that Sam still loves Dean. They just need time to build their relationship back up.
Anyway, moving on (a little bit 🙂 ), I’ve read that quite a lot of people were angry about Sam’s reaction to Dean’s Mark of Cain, but during my first watch through the first thing that caught my attention was how quickly he latched onto the comment about Crowley and my thoughts headed very much in the direction yours did – he’s jealous of Dean’s new hunting buddy, hence his reaction. 😀
On the MotW side of things; I loved the change up to the werewolf (lycanthrope) mythology and I’ve always had a soft spot for Garth, so seeing that he was married and had integrated into a little werewolf – uh… lycanthrope – community warmed my heart. His reaction to Kevin’s death made me teary eyed and his offer to hunt alongside the brother’s made me chuckle. It was an interesting place to take this character, but I think it worked so well.
I also enjoyed the humour thrown in there – this is one of the many reasons I love Supernatural. Even when they’re breaking our hearts, the writers and the boys still manage to make us laugh. What also made me squeal with fangirl happiness was the mention of Thor, Loki, Odin, Fenris and Ragnarock, these are all legends I already knew of and to have them all in one episode made me extremely happy!
Finally, I just want to say I agree 100% with the prowess comments; Sam using his long legs to kick the gun away – definitely a highlight of the episode! And Dean’s aim with that knife! Wow!!
Well, I’ll leave it there. On to next week with muscle shirts, shorts, hairnets and doughnuts! 😀
I think they know that the fandom really *needs* muscle shirts, shorts, hairnets and donuts at this point! And bless them for giving it to us 🙂
I agree about the humour – SPN is one of the few shows that can break your heart and make you laugh in the same episode and have it seem totally believable. No mean feat!
Definitely agree with some humour needed after the soul-searing episodes that are terrifying the fans. We’re all uneasy at best, and horrified at worst about what is happening to two great brothers!
Here’s to next week and what looks like it might be a much-needed therapeutic fix! 🙂
I loved your review! As so many have already said, you are able to put into words, what I struggle to say. Two things (even though there is SO much swirling in my head):
First, to all those who say they are tired of the repeated mistakes and lying and fighting and making up of the brothers, I say this. Are any of you married? What’s one of the first things you learn in a marriage? You CAN’T change your partner, no matter how hard you try. You married them for who they were not as a project to fix and change. Sam and Dean’s repeated mistakes are the same thing. It is who they are. Dean is going to keep making the same mistakes and, until he chooses to change himself, that isn’t going to get better. I think the writers are doing a good job at portraying this and in this episode, I saw for the first time, an inkling that Dean might be seeing the light. That he just might be seeing that his actions, no matter the motivation, are being harmful to Sam. He is showing, a wee bit of desire to change.
Second, family…oh how my heart broke when Sammy told Dean “we’re family” isn’t a cure all. WHAT?!?! For Dean, it IS! Family is the only thing that holds the poor man together! It is the rock Dean falls back on. The thing that gives him hope in the dark and holds his sanity together. For Sam to pull that rug out from under Dean could be disastrous! I sat in shock and completely dumbfounded when Sam said it. What happens to Dean after that? No wonder he goes to a dark place when the one person you live for, your ‘family’, is the one that basically snuffs your sole reason for going on?
I admit they both need to talk and, as you said in your review, since when do Winchesters talk? As much as it hurts, I eagerly await the time when Sam saves Dean, because after what he said to him, he’s going to need it!
WOW that was really insightful. You brought up points that explained my own feelings and even made me rethink some. A few times I thought my mind had been hacked because you seem to know exactly what I was feeling when watching this episode. There were two parts ha. That church scene put down and the brotherhood attack, was like a knife and your right I was expecting to see it through Dean but I didn’t expect the knife to pierce my own heart.
This is how I see Deans reluctance to say an outright sorry, IF he does say that it feels like he’s saying he’s sorry Sam is alive. And I think as much as he knows what he did was extremely dodgy/wrong and understands why Sammys mad he can’t bring himself to think it was all bad, since Sam is alive. Its a huge conflict in his heart and brain. And its a huge conflict in my brain. I can’t seem to say he was wrong because he’d do anything to keep Sam alive and here he is alive and physically well.
I just think it’d be hard for Dean to truly be sorry only because Sam is alive because of it.
Enjoyed your review but I have to disagree with you regarding the speech. Sam did not tell dean they couldn’t be brothers. Not at all. Sam said that the family card can no longer be the excuse used to condone what has gone wrong between them. Dean just wanted to get in the car and fall into their normal routine thinking that time alone and a few wins hunting will make everything ok again simply because they are family. Sam said no, he wishes, but no, not this time. He said that if dean wanted to work they would work, that never been the problem…but if they want to be brothers….pained look, Sam about to go on, then he says those are my terms. What he is telling dean but not yet able to say, or needs dean to figure out on his own is that if they are to be brothers they have to work at it. Things have to change, and just because your family, it doesn’t mean you don’t work at a relationship. You can be related and not close. One doesn’t automatically mean the other. That was what Sam meant and I am so proud of him for taking that crucial first step
You just told us the blow by blow of the scene, we all saw it so we know what happend. And that’d be your interpretation I suppose but it isn’t mine. Saying about the brothers means that he doesn’t want to be brothers just yet anyway. Thats what he meant to me and alot of others. Family means something different to Sam and maybe its Sam that has to learn a few things not Dean.
Grace, with all due respect I was responding to the author of the article. And not for nothing but there are like a dozen posts which are similar to mine so i really don’t understand why you are singling me out with your rather rude response. We all have a right to share here. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you have to reply with such nastiness…a simple agree to disagree would have sufficed.
Anna I don’t know why you think this is rude its just another opinion, might be different than yours but that is it. And a simpled disagree would be something you could of written as well. I don’t know why you can’t see that your being hypocritcal here. You post a comment you’ve got to know you could be responded too. You can’t be untouchable.
Hey! Grace and Anna! You’re in the back seat of the Impala! Cut it out, both of you. NOW!
SPN Fans love and respect each other — across a VERY broad spectrum of opinions and ideas, remember?
I probably shouldn’t chime in but I loved your comment. Also, I was wishing to be in the backseat of the Impala being chastised (or something.)
Thanks, Jes! I suddenly channeled my parents’ exasperation! Love to be in the front OR backseat of that Impala myself! Not chastised though; I’ll take the “or something!”
Dean made a huge decision on Sam’s behalf–to let him be possessed by Gadreel, an angel who was double-crossed by Metatron. It got Kevin killed. If the angel had been a truly good angel who had not been evilly used by Metatron, Sam might have been healed, as promised, and Dean’s good intentions would have had a happy ending. But this is the Winchesters, and they always get screwed. Cas had a similar experience with Metatron; he trusted him and ended up losing his grace and being forced to live as a human for a while. Truth be told, Metatron is the real villain here. Maybe Gadreel would have even done the right thing had Metatron not intervened, but we will never know. Sam wants Dean to stop lying to him, even if it means he has to die. But Dean can’t lose Sam, period, and will always choose the option that results in Sam’s survival, even if it means allowing an angel, demon or fairy possession. Trust goes out the window for Dean when it comes to his little brother staying alive and that will never change. Sam has to understand that Dean’s love for him transcends trust and rationality. If he can do something to ensure Sam’s life, Dean will do it, and the end will forever justify the means. Sam must accept that. SAM might be ready to die, but Dean will never, ever accept the loss of his baby brother. Because from the moment John Winchester placed six-month-old Sam into four-year-old Dean’s arms the night Mary burned on the ceiling, Dean was forever responsible for his brother’s life. And that is a birth rite Dean Winchester will take to his grave! Love, Robin
Agreed. Although Kevins death was caused by Metatron. And regardless of Gadreel Metatron might of killed Kevin no matter what happened.
Your final paragraph says it all, Robin:
“…Dean will never, ever accept the loss of his baby brother. Because from the moment John Winchester placed six-month-old Sam into four-year-old Dean’s arms the night Mary burned on the ceiling, Dean was forever responsible for his brother’s life. And that is a birth rite Dean Winchester will take to his grave!”
The Winchester Story always has been a Greek tragedy; Aeschylus would have written a play about their lives.
Wow I have to say insightful responses and can I just say once was enough for me to hear that speech the first time heard it on Tuesday after that on my Itunes I stop before the speech because I just hear Deans heart crumbling inside. This is my feeling why did sam get in the car if he wanted to just be working partners then call Dean say hey found case lets meet up there. And take the blue dodge to the men of letters. I mean really I saw when he got in the car as really they are back to what is the problem. I think really they need to be apart. Sam said what he had to and he should have left in his car and see you at the next case if they are going to be working partners and not brothers at the moment. I mean ok what happens Dean gets in trouble; you going to have to save him you telling me the brother side of you won’t kick in and worry?? I think best solution and to make his point would have been they both said what they wanted to he didn’t have to get into the impala I know Dean agreed to terms but to me him getting in dodge and meeting at next case would have made more sense. I just see them back where they were when Sam called Dean when Lucifer came a calling. Your still in the car. Do you share hotel rooms? I mean really working partners like when he was souless he had his own car and dean had baby. So lets say we are there again. And I think we are seeing some side effects to the mark of cain unless Dean has really become one hell of a shot I mean the knife in heart was perfect and the taking out two brothers and also shooting the mom. I mean spot on. I think they will not be noticeable unless mark bothers him. I don’t think he will let sam in that it is bothering him. Like Sam hid his stuff that was going on with him same with Dean know he will do the same but nice of him to be honest about who gave him the mark and ta da concern for a bit and then like how he just stuck with you hunted with crowley really out of all that you got you hunted with crowley??? really. Like meg taking away from story you hit a dog and stopped why??? I just hope Cas has more concern or knowledge or Sam maybe starts to look to see what Dean did. Anyway can handle the speech once because heard poor deans heart crumble again but that is just my opinion and enjoyed the review as usual. Nice job.
I enjoyed reading your review and all the comments.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get a better perspective of Sam’s inner workings from the show, instead of from article comments?
Also, I don’t mind conflict between the brothers and I’m happy that the writers seem to be aiming at a better relationship, but I’m afraid the story will fail if Sam continues to be so woefully underwritten.