There was a lot riding on episode 3 of Season 10, Soul Survivor. Jensen Ackles was directing, so everyone’s anticipation was high. On the other hand, some of the episodes by these writers are not my favorites, so I was wary. And, woman of little willpower that I am when it comes to this Show, I was once again a little bit spoiled – particularly for the scene where a tied down Dean tries every trick in the book to hurt his brother. Ouch. Maybe it was merciful that I was prepared, since it still hit me hard enough to make me nauseous hearing Dean say those hurtful things to Sam.
I’m not sure I’ve ever loved Sam more than when he refused to fall for it. When he plunged that needle into his brother and countered “This is me yanking your lame ass out of the fire,” I shivered. When he looked back over his shoulder and said, “You’re welcome,” I think I gasped. And then tweeted in capslock THAT’S RIGHT SAMMY!!!
Damn. How so hot, Mr. Padalecki?
I was fairly sure that this week’s episode would be the last we see of Demon!Dean, so I was prepared for that too – but it still left me a little disappointed. There was so much I loved about this episode – most of it actually – but I wanted more.
Some of that wanting comes from how deeply I care about this Show and these characters. Caring makes you vulnerable, because when you desperately want something to happen on your screen and it doesn’t, it’s painful. Like, literally painful. I desperately wanted Sam to save Dean. Even Jensen and Jared seemed to be invested in that outcome. So part of me was biting my nails throughout, hoping that I’d get what I wanted.
Did I? Well, yes and no.
For the most part, yes. The episode gave me a lot of what I wanted – and most of it had me on the edge of my seat and yelling at my television, which sounds bizarre but actually is a good sign when it comes to my SPN viewing. The scenes that worked the best were the ones that I wanted to be about fifty times longer – why can’t this be a 3 hour show??
Take that scene of Demon!Dean tied to a chair while Sam works resolutely to cure him. Padalecki and Ackles made good use of their amazing chemistry, and that scene really worked.
(Though I was disappointed that it wasn’t Sam’s blood. Is that wrong? I realize they weren’t trying to shut the doors of hell so there was no reason I guess that it had to be Sam’s, but it seemed so right. Poetic even. Cured with Winchester blood. Sam’s attempted cure of Crowley was so intense in part because of what Sam was going through to accomplish it — it was his blood, it was taking a real toll on him. How powerful would that have been, to have Sam make that sacrifice for Dean? To love him so much he would give his own blood to save him. That seemed like a powerful opportunity wasted. I have a feeling the writers aren’t quite as sentimental as I am…)
Still, we got some scenes straight out of the best hurt/comfort fic, especially when Sam walks in to find Dean unconscious and fears he’s gone too far.
“Dean! Dean! Come back to me,” Sam pleads, grabbing Dean’s face in desperation, and my eyes start to water.
Sam’s indecision was heartbreaking, his fear that he might be killing his brother instead of saving him. What a horrible position to be in, a horrible decision to have to make. Sam’s voice breaking as he spoke to Cas on the phone, the look on his face when he has to accept that this might kill Dean….that really got to me. Kudos, Jared.
Also, Sam looks really good when he plays doctor. Just saying.
And Demon!Dean growling? Too much hotness in one Show, I swear.
I was prepared for some of the cruelty that Demon!Dean dished out to Sam, since I watched one promo vid, but I guess it wasn’t enough. It’s physically painful to hear the Winchesters tear each other apart, no matter what the extenuating circumstances. And Dean, since he had all of his own memories, really knew how to get to Sam. Go for the jugular, hone right in on the things Sam worries about that he’d never say out loud. His guilt for being the “cause” of his mother’s death. His fear that Dean resents taking care of him as a child. His overwhelming sense of loss, with Dean the only family he has left. Those were the things that would hurt Sam the most, and Dean knew it. His willingness to go there, and the sadistic twist of his mouth as he did, were the first clues that this was a Dean who was capable of going anywhere. I don’t think those were truths as far as what Dean believes, but rather the things Dean knows Sam unconsciously fears.
Sam: We don’t get to quit in this family. This family is all we have ever had!
Dean: Then we’ve got nothin’.
I can’t help but think that Demon!Dean’s vicious insistence that if family was what they had, then they have nothing, was a stab at Sam in retaliation for Sam calling into question the meaning of family and their brotherhood during last season too. That just made it hurt more. We’ve always known that demons lie – but rarely does a demon know its target as well as Dean knows Sam.
Sam clearly feels guilty (understandably) about setting up Lester, though he also clearly intended to step in before the deal actually went down. Knowing what we know now about Lester, though, made it hard for that to rise to the level of “Sam is a monster” that seemed to be intended. How many demons have both Sam and Dean killed in human vessels without much visible angst? Some of the things Sam did in his misguided attempt to save the world back in earlier seasons seem a lot more monstrous than this particular incident. Both Sam and Dean have gone darkside to save each other, and I’m pretty okay with that. That’s why I watch this show. I felt more sorry for Sam than horrified at his ‘monstrosity’ here.
One of my other favorite scenes was Sam going into Dean’s room, needing to remember his brother – not the demon tied to a chair in the other room. He obviously needs to remind himself of his love for Dean, to steel himself to do this. He looks so fondly at Dean’s stack of porn and at the oddly preserved slice of half-eaten pie, both of which just made me giggle.
But then he picks up the photos that Dean keeps on his nightstand and that music starts to play and all my emotions spilled over. I can’t hear even the first few notes of Americana without crying, and hearing it while looking at the photos that Dean Winchester keeps in his room was almost too much. John and Mary, John with Sam and Dean. Sam and Dean with Bobby. Sam and Dean, laughing together. Was Dean looking at them as he battled the effects of the Mark of Cain, desperately trying to hang onto his humanity?
Somehow the fact that the Sam and Dean photos were actually behind the scenes shots of Jared and Jensen laughing together just made it more poignant. There’s so much love to go around on this Show – between the brothers, between the actors, between the fans. It all got twisted up in my head and made for a really messy few minutes in which I used up far too many tissues.
The most amazing scene in this episode, though, was Sam and Dean’s “cat and mouse” chase in the bunker. In a recent meet and greet, Jensen had talked about filming that scene in the bunker hallways, which are like catacombs. (They really are – I practically got lost in them once looking for craft services). He talked about filming it like an old Hitchock movie, right down to making sure he filmed the protagonist walking from left to right and the antagonist approaching from right to left, the two of them getting closer and closer. He also said that Jared and Jerry Wanek helped him plan it out, giving some suggestions to build suspense. Just that description was enough to have me bouncing with anticipation.
But the scene itself? OMG that was a masterpiece! When Jensen described it, it sounded intriguing – seeing it was so much more terrifying than I ever imagined!
Serge Ladouceur’s lighting was masterful, the dark red tones adding to the suspense and the sense of approaching evil. That scene alone made the episode a favorite, and I once again found myself wishing it was longer. I would have happily watched a whole episode of Sam and Dean playing cat and mouse in the bunker.
“You wanna hang out with your big brother? Spend a little quality time?”
“Come on, Sammy! Let’s have a beer, talk about it. I’m tired of playing. Let’s finish this game.”
It’s such a cruel parody of their brotherly bond, all the things real Dean would love to say to Sam twisted into something violent and cruel.
“I’m lucky, oh hell I’m blessed, because there’s just enough demon in me left to kill you.”
I wanted so much more of this, because it was absolutely delicious. Feral Dean, snarling and growling and sniffing the air to catch the scent of his prey (his brother). Scaring the crap out of me, for real. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened while watching Supernatural. This wasn’t some nameless monster that we knew would be vanquished – this was Dean. And he was terrifying.
“I know you’re still in there somewhere,” Sam says.
But is he? I realized at some point during that scene that Jensen had sold me on Demon!Dean – that I no longer believed what I’d been hanging onto for the past few episodes, that Dean’s humanity was still in there. That Dean was still in there. I no longer believed that he couldn’t kill his brother – and that was profoundly terrifying! Ackles did an amazing job with directing those scenes, which seems nearly impossible to me since he was acting in them too. Demon!Dean looked 100% deadly and about 400% hot as hell, and the combination had me beside myself. He stalked through those halls like he owned the place, almost swaggering. And sniffing the air like a dog, trying to catch Sam’s scent and track him down? Holy hell. That should not be so hot.
I completely forgot to breathe when Dean swung at Sam with that effing hammer, and the choreography of that sequence was perfect as Sam ducked and came back with the knife to his brother’s throat.
And ohgod, Dean’s growled out, “Do it” was terrifying and yet still so damn sexy.
Kudos to Jared for making me fear for Sam and feel for Sam simultaneously – he was so torn, he so didn’t want to kill his brother.
The moment when he pulled the knife away from Dean’s throat took me back to that pivotal moment in Croatoan when Dean couldn’t kill Sam – no matter what. I loved it for that parallel, and for the look of both defeat and determination on Sam’s face as he lowered the blade.
“I’m not gonna leave you” is such a powerful theme in Supernatural, and it played out here memorably – Jared sold it 100%. I cried for Sam, at that moment.
I was sitting there not breathing when Cas appeared and grabbed Dean from behind. Half of me gasped in relief and the other half sort of wanted to see what would have happened next. I guess the hammer just missing Sam’s head and smashing into the wall should have made it clear though, right? See how much I still don’t want to believe it?
I saw someone on Tumblr sum the episode up as “Crowley saves Cas. Cas saves Sam. Sam saves Dean.” And I guess that’s how I’m looking at it too. I really needed Sam to save Dean this time, and he did. With a little help from his friends.
Not that Crowley is what you’d call a friend, but he was an integral part in the success of Sam’s plan. I’m not entirely sure why Crowley decided to re-grace Cas, at least temporarily. Is it because he doesn’t want Dean to be a rogue demon mucking things up, or because he doesn’t want Dean – or possibly any of them – dead?
Is Crowley still feeling some of the effects of his human blood addiction? He certainly has no problem offing demons, but he seems less certain when it comes to humans and perhaps even angels. He didn’t kill Hannah either, out of deference to Cas or because he thought she could help Cas get to Sam and Dean, I’m not sure. Crowley’s mooning over his good times with Dean belied his “I’m not sentimental” insistence, but I have no idea what he really wants. I did love the look on his face when one of his minions referred to Dean as his boytoy though. Hehe.
Mark Sheppard delivers every line he has with so much personality that I can’t help but smile every time Crowley is on my tv screen. Oh, and Mark’s son Max made a brief appearance too (see Sheppards selfie below). Good genes in that family, huh?
I’m still on the fence about Cas and Hannah and their budding non-romance. I like the character of Hannah, and I feel for her as Cas awkwardly friend zones her – which probably says something good about Erica Carroll’s acting. But I don’t really ship them either. (Also, why did poor Hannah get left to sit out in the car while Cas was in the bunker anyway? Security risk? Not trusting her? Bros only? Quality time with Dean?)
Misha always does a good job portraying awkward!Cas, and Erica played Hannah’s confusion turned irritation and hurt perfectly. But I admit I was also happy to see Cas back to being strong and competent, even if he did swoop in at a rather convenient time.
The episode was less satisfying as we got closer to the end. We went from heart-pounding nail-biting will-he-or-won’t-he (kill Sam) to oh, the blood infusions apparently happened while we were watching Apple commercials, and now Sam and Cas are just calmly waiting for Dean to wake up. WTF??? Way to ruin the suspense and make what should have been an emotionally climactic scene almost anti-climactic. Neither Sam nor Cas looked particularly concerned, when earlier Sam had been terrified that the treatments might kill Dean instead of cure him. Why is everyone so damn calm now? Why, Show, why???
(I did like Castiel’s acknowledgement that perhaps Dean has been in so much pain that he would rather stay a demon so he doesn’t have to feel it again. Ouch.)
But I absolutely did not like that Dean just woke up and made a joke and then we effing CUT to a while later, Dean in his room and Cas and Sam having a perfectly normal conversation. Where is my broment?? Where is the hug I was expecting?? Urgh, Show, I hate you sometimes. And yes, I still love you. But seriously, I hate you. I wanted that! So badly.
I get it, Sam expresses his love by going out to get Dean food – cholesterol-laden food. It’s the way the Winchesters say I love you. (But sometimes they hug too, Show, don’t forget that.)
“I’m just gonna go pick up a bag of crap food and stuff it in his face myself.”
Cas goes to find Dean, perhaps both to reassure himself that Dean’s okay and to see if Dean really is okay. Cas takes the Mark of Cain seriously, the way I could never understand that Sam didn’t. It’s a big deal, he says – well duh, I say. Thankfully someone is finally saying that. Thank you, Cas!
Dean, breaking my heart a little more, is looking at the family photos. Staring at the picture of smiling Dean and Sam.
Dean: “So what did Sam say? He want a divorce?”
That goes down as one of my favorite lines ever. Cas tries to be reassuring.
Cas: It’s going to take a lot more than trying to kill Sam with a hammer to make him walk away.
That was a great line, because it’s both preposterous and true. Cas also tries to talk Dean into taking a break. For his own good perhaps, but also because Castiel doesn’t want him out there with the Mark of Cain, I think. Right now, Cas seems to be thinking more clearly than anyone. It’s a shame we didn’t get any scenes of Cas actually interacting with Demon!Dean – it would have been interesting to hear his perspective.
I don’t know what to make of Dean’s expression as that scene ends. What is he feeling, other than worried that he went too far and drove his brother away? How cured is he, and how human is he?
And what the ever loving hell was that very last scene? I can’t help but wish we’d ended with Sam bringing back a slice of pie for his brother. And a goddamn hug!
But that’s the joy and agony of being a fan. We can’t always get what we want. I got a lot of what I wanted from this episode, and some of it was way better than I’d dared hope for! I know that Jensen and Jared are enthusiastic about the brothers getting back to being brothers again, and I’m looking forward to that too. Though a part of me is going to miss Demon!Dean and his swaggering devil-may-care hotness. I saw more than a few fans express their irritation that this was billed as “The Year of the Deanmon” [ouch ouch ears hurting now] – three episodes does not a year make, CW. I wish we’d had five or six episodes of that at least. Hell, I would’ve been ecstatic to have three whole episodes of Dean chasing Sam around the bunker!
I stayed up for the west coast feed, with EVERYONE tweeting, and ended up more in love with this Show and this cast than ever as Misha, Jensen, Jared and Mark sassed each other for our amusement.
Misha: 1 hour west-coasters. Buckle up. @jensenacles, this is the episode you “directed,” right?
Jensen: @mishacollins yes…this would be the episode I directed. #CaptainObvious #YourFavoriteDirector
For a while, Jensen and Jared were just going back and forth teasing each other while fandom watched grinning.
Jensen: #Deanmon needs a haircut. Any longer and he’s gonna start growing moose antlers. No offense @jarpad.
Jared: My favorite part was slapping the director in the face and purposely messing up so I could keep doing it.
Jensen: @jarpad yeah thanks for that. Took me a few takes to realize what you were doing. Well played sir, well played. #Revenge
Fandom: Sounds kinky
Misha got in a few good ones too, including this wry tweet when Sam took a sentimental stroll around Dean’s bedroom.
Misha: go for the porn, @jarpad. #spnAdultfamily
And this one when Crowley brought Cas back to full strength.
Misha: Being saved by @mark_sheppard is so emasculating. I wish it could have been someone super tough, like @feliciaday.
There were some emotional tweets too.
Jared: Crazy to see what Sam will do to get his brother back. He breaks all of the old rules he set for himself!
Me: Hell yes!
Jensen: “Lil’ Levi’s” gas station. A little shout out to my nephew. Love ya buddy.
Osric Chau and Erica Carroll joined in the live tweeting too.
Osric: This is the exact same conversation I had with @mishacollins in the kayak on Sunday. Except I was Castiel and he was Hannah.
Must have been an interesting kayak trip.
The fact that they were all using fandom’s selected hashtag for the episode from time to time was awesome. Reciprocal relationship stuff always makes me emotional. And for the record, #ActionAckles had more tweets than the World Series on Tuesday night! Go fandom!
Then the cast began tweeting selfies.
Much to Jensen’s apparent dismay and fandom’s glee.
Jensen: Well, since we are posing and tweeting like we’re 12. Here ya go. I like to wear an #spn shirt for extra effect!
Jared: @jensenackles you stole my shirt!
Fandom: Jared and Jensen clothes sharing, who has Bingo!?
I tweeted my reaction to hearing ‘Americana’ played in this episode.
Me: Big kudos to @jaygruska for reducing me to sobs
JayGruska: @FangasmSPN Sorry 🙂
I feel like maybe he was lying…
So what did everyone else think? We’re heading to ChiCon this weekend, where we’ll hopefully hear more about this week’s episode and what’s to come. We’ll also have some autographed copies of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls and Fan Phenomena: Supernatural (signed by Jensen, Jared, Misha, etc.) – so if you buy a book at the con, you might find your copy already autographed. Come find us in the vendor’s room if you’re at the con!
Or pick up your copy of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls
or Fan Phenomena: Supernatural (with chapters by Misha
and Richard) at the links at the top of the page!
Caps by midnight-road.livejournal.com