“Sam Interrupted” Review
By Amanda Rebholz
When ‘Supernatural’ played its heartbreaking final episode a few months ago, I prepared myself for a long spell of absolute boredom mixed with spells of nail-biting anticipation. We’re at the midpoint of what was to be the final season of our show; when we returned after the holidays, what new horrors and challenges would confront our boys? Would Sam and Dean finally cope with their inner demons in order to battle Lucifer, and more importantly, would the two ever just man up and admit their issues to one another?
However, the hiatus was kept far from boring with several earthshaking announcements from the actors’ camps! While Jensen Ackles and Danneel Harris delighted fans with news of their engagement, Jared Padalecki was hot on their heels in presenting a beautiful diamond to Genevieve Cortese. (And hopefully, the fangirls realize that this is NOT the same thing as Sam marrying Ruby 2.0, and Gen Cortese is probably never going to result in Jared opening the gates of Hell.) Jim Beaver and Misha Collins are both working their tails off to raise money for charity in light of the tragedy in Haiti; while Jim tactfully and respectfully asked his fans and friends on Facebook to give what they could, Misha took the wacky route (do we expect anything else from him, really?) and pleaded for his minions to pledge eight dollars to Haiti relief. Misha got his eight dollars and some change; at last count, his minions had collected over $23,000 in donations!
In light of the giving spirit, show creator Eric Kripke decided to donate the prestigious People’s Choice Awards flutes he was given as an honor for the show’s nomination, and these are currently being auctioned on eBay for charity to donate to the Haitian cause as well. Let NO ONE say that ‘Supernatural’ fans aren’t the most giving, open-hearted and sweet fanbase out there; whether it’s for animal rescue or humanitarian aid, the fans prove time and time again that their love for the show and its cast exists far beyond tuning in for one hour each week.
Nonetheless, the exciting hiatus was cut off by the premiere of tonight’s episode “Sam, Interrupted,” and I can’t say that I was sad to see it go. Vanquished were my fears of spoilers; our boys were back and full speed ahead to the season finale!
I was glad to have the show back, but to me this felt like another ‘filler episode’ in what has proven to be a season full of them. Sure, there have been some real winners – episodes like “Changing Channels”, which was funny and clever but then quickly took an important, poignant turn, as well as “The Real Ghostbusters”, which was cheesy and a fun monster-of-the-week-meets-meta romp that threw a monkey wrench in at the end— but for the most part, Season 5 thus far has not been very dedicated to…well, to the apocalypse!
Appearances from our much-anticipated Satan have been kept to a minimum, we’ve only seen one Horseman in the flesh, and Meg has only shown up to drop sarcastic one-liners and insult their intelligence twice thus far. Instead, the season mostly has just been full of emotional angst, with a surplus of drawn-out scenes between Dean and Sam either rehashing the same inner struggles they’ve been facing for almost two full seasons now or actively avoiding the indulgence of any emotion whatsoever. Also, as a Misha Collins lover, I have to say— where is Castiel? I know he’s off finding God, but maybe he could pop in a little more regularly! As a fan favorite and a character that really added a new dimension to the ensemble in Season 4, I know I’m not alone in wishing we were seeing a bit more tan trench coat this go-round.
Tonight’s episode to me felt like leftovers, a somewhat-appetizing meal stuffed in Tupperware somewhere back in the middle of Season 3. We have your typical plotline of the boys infiltrating a facility that’s supposed to be high security, this time by feigning insanity instead of getting themselves thrown into jail or some other unsavory predicament, in order to find and kill the Monster of the Week. This time we’re facing not rugaru or women in white or angry water-spirits, but a wraith which sucks the juice out of people’s brains and is apparently attacking the patients at a mental hospital. This plot is entertaining enough to keep our interest, but to me the actual execution was nothing new. Dean’s delirium and loss of depth perception was almost reminiscent of his final hours on earth before the Hellhounds showed up in the finale of Season 3. Sam’s hallucinations and the imagined conversations between him and other people were almost verbatim to his detoxing in “When the Levee Breaks.”
There were plenty of laughs, of course— Dean dropping his pants and yelling “Pudding!” to convince a doctor that he’s insane, Sam babbling while on tranquilizers and ‘beeping’ Dean’s nose (although the first time we saw Sam drunk back in Season 2, his surly ‘You’re bossy. And short’ was much funnier, in my opinion) – but for the most part, the episode didn’t bring anything new or enlightening to the table and didn’t really do much for the overall plot arc of Season 5. We learned in the end that Sam is full of anger – something we’ve known if we’ve been watching the same show for the past two years and watched him progress. Sammy Winchester has always been a bit of a diva; whether it’s huffing over Dean’s inability to take things seriously or complaining about something, he’s never exactly an optimist or a bundle of sunshine.
But he grew progressively darker, not just in the obvious ways of blood-chugging and demon-humping, but in the more subtle things we’ve seen through the episodes’ progression, and in scenes like ones with the siren or when he and Dean fight toward the end of Season 4, we can see this rage simmering inside of Sam. Still, Padalecki isn’t entirely selling this to me. We’ve SEEN him play Sam wicked and evil, several times over in fact— so why does he sound so insincere and shaky when he tries to tell Lucifer that he’s going to tear out his heart? Sam is supposedly angry and full of rage at the world around him. Granted, tonight’s episode was the first time Sam’s ever actually admitted that HE is the one at fault. For that, I felt like cheering a little. We’ve listened to entire monologues of excuses, everything from “You and Dad never treated me like an adult” to “I wanted to be stronger than you for once”, and all of them have made him sound like a petulant child. While he was repentant early in this season and willing to do anything it took to win back Dean’s trust, he is now reverting— it may not be as intense as the betrayal with Ruby, but the fact that he’s giving in to his anger and rage in small spurts means it’s only a matter of time before something pushes him over the edge and he Hulks out in some way or another.
To me, the giant warning sign was when Lucifer told him, “That’s good. You’re gonna need that anger for me.” If I was Sam and Lucifer told me he was stoked that I was a self-loathing emo kid, I would check myself into a yoga class stat; that boy needs to find some kind of balance and harmony and center in his life, or do some feng shui in Bobby’s house or something, or else he’s going to Detroit in a few months and he’s going to come back a whole lot more devilish than he left.
I feel like the slogan for Season 5 shouldn’t be “What’re you afraid of?”… it really should be “Supernatural: Hug it out already!”. Sam and Dean’s complex interpersonal problems are only getting worse with time; Dean is professional about bottling up his emotions and never showing his weakness, and Sam is determined to be as hardheaded as possible about his own problems. The two of them just really need to sit down and talk, with no bullshit and no ego and no self-consciousness. But we know that will never happen; Dean wouldn’t allow it and Sam wouldn’t press it. Ironic, since the two of them supposedly love each other more than anything else in the world and have such a strong protective urge towards one another; you’d think they’d be aware of how to protect them from themselves, and each other, by now.
Still, with rampant speculation that the CW will green light Season 6 of the show, many are left wondering how much time is left on the clock now in the final sprint to the apocalypse.