“Soul Survivor” Review
By Annie Kenney
And so we say goodbye to demon Dean. In my opinion he didn’t stick around long enough and he will be greatly missed. More of that later…
This episode was wonderful but really, really difficult to watch. What fantastic acting from both Jared and Jensen and who better than Jensen Ackles to direct this very important episode as he knows both Dean and Sam inside and out and he bought out sterling performances not just from Jared but from Misha and Mark as well.
I was particularly pleased with this episode as it finally provided redemption for Sam. Looking back at the start of Season 8 when Sam chose a normal life and didn’t look for Dean has always been particularly painful for me. Sam was so out of character in those first few episodes and the writers never really came up with a valid reason for Sam not looking. I believe this damaged Sam’s character and alienated a lot of regular viewers. Since then the writers have danced around a lot of issues and the brothers were at loggerheads for most of Season 9. Now it appears they have finally decided that Sam Winchester was worth saving and they have done this by actually letting Sam save Dean.
The scenes in the bunker near broke me; Sam’s obvious pain and determination and Dean’s attempts to bait him were almost too agonizing to watch. Dean was in full demon mode; he made sure he laid his cards firmly on the table, telling Sam he didn’t want to be cured, taunting him about how much of a liability Sam had been, how Sam had never manned up because Dean was always there to take care of him. However we also learned that Sam was not innocent in all of this and that it was Sam that had encouraged Lester to sell his soul so that Sam could nab a crossroads demon (the same demon we saw him torturing in Red. We know that the Winchester’s are not squeaky clean and we know that they will stop at nothing when their sibling is in danger but to see the lengths Sam went to to find Crowley and, in turn, find Dean was quite disturbing. However, call me bad, but it didn’t disturb me as much as it should have. I like Sam being all manic and dangerous and I don’t think I am alone in that!
What a shame this episode couldn’t have been a two header between Padalecki and Ackles. Again the Castiel storyline and the Crowley storyline tended to break up the main action. At least both of these storylines came together and started to make sense. Castiel now owes Crowley something and at least he has working grace (for a while at least). What Crowley’s endgame is I’m not sure. He claimed it was because he wanted Castiel to help cure Dean but I don’t trust Crowley and I have a horrible suspicion that there is more to this than meets the eye.
Back at the bunker how touching was it to see Sam in Dean’s room looking at photos of the brothers in happier times (and how long is it since we saw them laugh like that?) His face and eyes told their own story and, again, I was blown away by Jared’s acting. I never once doubted the immensity of Sam’s feelings and it made me tear up and pray things might go right for once.
The finale of Soul Survivor was gripping; demon Dean stalking Sam around a red tinged bunker carrying first a hammer and then an axe. It was creepy and I have to say it made me jump on several occasions. I like the fact that, as Dean grew more human, he managed to get out of the cuffs and step over the Devil’s Trap. It was awful to see that Dean was still determined to kill Sam and that he still didn’t care. All those horrible things he said hurt Sam as much as any physical wound but a hammer is still pretty threatening when push comes to shove.
The best (and worst) part of the whole thing was Sam’s obvious reluctance to kill Dean. When Dean almost stove his skull in it would have been easy for him to have plunged the knife in his brother’s chest and kill him mercifully but Sam just couldn’t do it. He lowered the knife even though it meant his own death was imminent. In that one moment Sam as a character was definitely redeemed but, now, he has other problems to deal with.
Firstly there will be the mark of Cain which is still there and which still has the ability to control his brother. Secondly there is the guilt of Dean which, as we know, could power small countries. Thirdly there is Crowley who I am sure has not gone away and finally there is Castiel, temporarily cured but certainly not up to full angel at the moment!
I have no idea what is going to happen next; I have no idea who the big bad is now that Dean is cured. I am at a loss to even guess and the show has grabbed me and pulled me in more than it has for a long, long time.
Finally just who was that red headed woman who nailed those hotel staff to the ceiling?? Meg? Ruby? Someone we haven’t met before?
Next week’s promo promises a MOTW episode with the brothers working together again for the first time since the latter end of Season 9. Will it all work out? I doubt it but I’ll be tuning in with the rest of you to see what happens next…