By Bekah James
Oh Sam. That was my refrain when it came to watching this week’s episode. Despite his crazy hair (seriously, what the what?), I wanted to wrap him up and hug the crap out of him. Leave it to our Sam and his tremendous sense of moralistic responsibility to ignore Death’s edict and pick at that pesky wall like a peeling sunburn. It’s one of the things I adore about the Winchesters; as flawed as they may be, they never fail to put the well-being of the common man ahead of their own.
The monster this week was an Arachne. I’ve never heard of such a thing (not unusual when it comes to this show), but it sounded close enough to arachnid to give me a good guess. Just picturing what one of those would look like gave me pre-emptive heebie jeebies. On behalf of arachnophobes worldwide, CGI Department, I thank you wholeheartedly for not giving us a giant spider a la Harry Potter. The creepy 8-eye effect and decaying skin was good enough for me!
Perhaps the real monster of the week was our beloved Sam. Through a series of flashbacks, we got a bird’s eye view of the perfidy of RoboSam, Hunter Without a Soul. The opening scene showing Grandpa Creepy cringing at the sound of gunshot, combined with RoboSam beating the ever loving hell out of Deputy Atkins was disturbing and really set the feel of the episode. I felt a little askew, as if I was standing in a world I remembered, but hated.
I was completely mortified when Sam shot the men bitten by the Arachne chick, but now that I think about it… while he was cold in his delivery, he really did what had to be done. There was no saving those men, so he went the Old Yeller route by putting them out of their misery. Does that sound familiar to you? Remember S2’s “Heart”? How is it we felt so awful about Sam’s sacrifice in killing Madison, but we are all snarling about him doing essentially the same thing to these five men? So here I am, standing fully behind RoboSam’s decision to pull the trigger x five (although in a case of epic hindsight, he should’ve gone for the machete). Of course, S2’s Sam totally would have gone to the Sheriff’s wife to explain what happened. And S2’s Sam never would have said “family just slows you down.”
Oh hey, speaking of that… why in the name of Chuck did Sam and Samuel spill the beans to the Sheriff in the first place? I mean, really, a beer with the local cops? How is that a good idea? That’s quite a change from the Samuel Campbell I remember from S4’s “In The Beginning”, where Samuel wasn’t too keen on having a meal with another hunter (Dean). I would have loved to have seen what made the two seasoned hunters break Rule Number One and talk openly with Sheriff Dobbs and his wife.
I got my one true laugh out of this episode when Sam said “I’m sure he died a hero”. I was reminded of the scene in S2’s “Tall Tales” where Sam (or Dean’s version of Sam, as it were), tells the witness “you’re a brave little soldier”. I chuckled over it, but my fellow watchers just blinked at me. Then, it wasn’t so funny when we got the full scene of Sam shooting Sheriff Dobbs in the Arachne den. It was interesting though, to see that Real Sam and RoboSam used the same hero speech, just with different inflections and for different reasons. RoboSam used it as a practical explanation and Real Sam used it as a tool of comfort. I guess RoboSam was telling the truth in “You Can’t Handle the Truth” when he told Dean that he was still him. Like I said, interesting.
Please excuse the continual references to S2, but they are so obvious here that I just have to point them out! Did the failed use of Sheriff Roy as bait to trap the Arachne perk up your memory like it did mine? We learned in “No Exit” that John Winchester used Bill Harvelle as bait in a hunt, which ultimately led to Harvelle’s death. Do you think all these similarities came from Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin’s appreciation for the series… or have we reached the point that ideas are being recycled? (I do give Dabb and Loflin credit for the “The Fountainhead” references—Roark and Wynand (the aliases Sam and Samuel use) are characters in Ayn Rand’s classic novel about objectivism, where individual self-interest was held as the purpose of one’s life.)
I’m not sure about this new director, David Barrett. I liked parts of it (Grandpa Creepy, Roy, the bathroom sex scene), but there were parts I did not necessarily like. I felt that Sam’s puppy dog eyes were a bit overplayed here. Maybe I got too used to RoboSam, but was Sam always such an emo? I half expected him to slather on the eyeliner, gel his hair over his eyes and slip into a pair of arm warmers. Yeah, yeah, he’s having a hard time dealing with the things he did while he was without soul, but I point out S2’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” in which Sam killed fellow hunter Steve Wandell while he was possessed by Meg. He was pretty quick to recover from that, so why the super-sized angst this time? (My bestie said, in response to that question: “Because it makes for good TV.”)
I was also put out by the distinct lack of music in this episode. I understand that the lack of music is indicative of the lack of Sam’s soul, but last week got me excited about adding to my Supernatural playlist, so color me disappointed this week.
Oh wait, I thought of something I really liked. The blood on Sam’s face after his shooting spree was beyond creepy… and perfect! It really embodied the mood, and gave depth to the whole RoboSam vibe. So that must be director David Barrett’s specialty… setting the mood. I’m interested to see if he’s invited back for another episode. I always look forward to seeing how new directors interpret the Supernatural universe.
The seizure at the end made me gasp. I figured we’d see some sort of crack in the wall, but the seizure took me by surprise. I think it might have been more impactful without the fired-up Sam. I think the vision we got of Dean’s Hell in S4 was a little more disturbing (the flashes and Dean’s eyes surrounded by dirty blood). The fire superimposed on Sam’s screams was a little too razzle dazzle for my liking. I prefer subtlety when being sold on ideas like a flayed soul. You know, if I was Cas, I’d be throwing my hands in the air right about now. No one ever listens to the poor guy when it comes to warnings of dire consequences. So, after the seizure and the fiery vision, I wrung my hands during the commercials, worried sick once again about my beloved Sam… but then the preview for next week came on. Way to go CW, killing my anxiety by showing Sam all merry and investigate-y with Dean. Sigh. I was kinda looking forward to being tortured by my concern.
[Oh, side note: Has anyone considered the possibility that the angels are the ones trying to get Purgatory open for business? I know it’s a long shot, but they did kick start the Apocalypse.]
WARNING: Tangent Ahead.
Okay, so you know I love Supernatural like I love my own children. I am more than thrilled to have new episodes and I have savored them all. But. I have been disappointed by the past two weeks’ showings. Last week’s “Like A Virgin” had a smattering of juicy Sam-bits, as did this week’s. But the writers managed to water it down with half baked MOTW plots. Why couldn’t they have just merged Sam’s soul return and the memories into one episode? I don’t mind MOTWs, but I want more. I learned nothing about dragons last week or Arachne this week. And really? Moving the Mother of All storyline along with nothing but a “oh gee, we haven’t found anything yet”? Weak. What I am craving is a meaty, succulent (and FULL HOUR) mythology episode… or MOTW episode. Pick one, guys, and go balls to the walls.
I will keep watching as if Supernatural has the answers to the universe (which, duh, it totally does), but I want the producers to focus a bit. I don’t want to feel like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew every week.
Sigh. Come on gang, pull it together. Love you. Mean it.
Bekah’s Been Drinking Again (fear for her liver)
This week I drank every time I had an cringe-worthy RoboSam moment. Luckily for my liver, I only had to take twelve shots of Purple Nurples.
For next week’s send up to the classic Mannequin movies, let’s return to a classic ourselves. Every “thoughtful profile” you see (any character!), take a nice big swiggypoo.