Episode 8.14

“Trial and Error” Review
By Annie Kenney

This season is over half way through and I wish, fervently, that this episode had been at the start rather than towards the end. The last three episodes have been almost faultless and old school Supernatural but this one was definitely the best of the best and I was moved to tears on several occasions.

Kevin is a marvellous character and, fingers crossed; he will avoid an early death and stay around for Season 9. He seems to have grown up so quickly and accepted his fate. He is almost like the third Winchester, doing his duty to the detriment of his health and well-being and the montage of his day, the same thing over and over, was almost painful to watch. When he, finally, translated some part of the tablet you could almost sense the tension in the air. Nothing is ever simple in Supernatural so closing Hell’s gates was not going to be a walk in the park.

Back in the Bat Cave Dean finally has his own room and if anyone didn’t have a lump in their throat when he put his picture of his mom on his bedside table then they have already sold their soul! Dean was always about home and family and he finally has a base, a place of his own. His delight in the memory mattress and his vinyl collection was palpable and it is wonderful watching Jensen’s expressions. Sometimes he just makes me laugh just by pulling a face and he has turned Dean into a much loved character.

Another lump in throat moment was Sam’s reaction to Dean’s nesting. Sam’s fond expression and his obvious love for his brother made me tear up. It is a crying shame that the audience still haven’t had a clear explanation of why Sam didn’t look for Dean, it still seems so out of character, so odd that he didn’t – at least – research or even bother to look. Jeremy Carver gave the impression that there was more to that storyline than met the eye but, as the Amelia storyline seems to be over, the audience may never know. Deep inside though, I wish that Sam would have joined forces with Kevin in Episode one and that the first trial would be getting a good soul (Dean) out of Purgatory.

But I digress; the relationship between Sam & Dean has always been the heart of the series and, now they are finally brothers again, it appears that it is going to be tested. Dean’s absolute determination to be the one to do the trials was scary. Dean has always had such a terrible view of his own self-worth and this has never changed. The fact that Dean looked on the trials as a suicide mission and was so prepared to die broke my heart and it obviously affected Sam too. Sam was so happy to see Dean settled, knowing that Dean had finally gotten what he wanted that it was obvious that he was worried about his brother’s death wish and the pain in his eyes was palpable.

There can’t be another actor on Television who can express pain, angst and unhappiness as well as Jared Padalecki does. He has inhabited Sam’s skin for so long that he knows just how to react. There has always been such great chemistry between the two leads and it really comes out in episodes like this one. The way they react to each other, the way they communicate without even opening their mouths, their expressive eyes and ability to go from joy to pain in a matter of seconds make them so charismatic that it is hard for the viewer to tear their eyes away.

The dysfunctional family were a really good touch. It was easy to believe Crowley fitting in there, having a dinner party and smooching the guests. It was cool that the husband sold his soul for his glamorous and beautiful wife and the whole hell-hound plot was tense and frightening, the viewer never quite knowing when one was going to turn up as it were! So brilliant as well to finally see a hell hound. The supernatural glasses were an excellent touch and, on a totally shallow note, who doesn’t want to see the Winchester’s in geeky glasses?

The fact that the attractive Ellie had also sold her soul to Crowley was a good twist. When she was kissing Dean there was an expectation that her eyes would turn black and she would be a crossroad’s demon! Goes to show that Supernatural never ceases to amaze and surprise, never going for the expected and totally rocking the unexpected.

However good the special effects and writing, the twists and turns, the highlight of the entire episode was the speeches made by each Winchester to the other. Dean’s declaration that he wanted Sam to live a normal life, to survive and become fat and reliant on Viagra was both touching and harrowing in turns. The fact that Dean views himself as a grunt, the brawn to Sam’s brains, is agonizing. Dean is perfectly happy to sacrifice himself not just for the world but for his baby brother.

Sam’s rebuttal at the end of the episode was equally as moving. Sam’s need to reassure his brother, to encourage him to live, made so much sense. Sam adores his older brother, looks up to him. Dean is Sam’s family and Sam has – by his own admission – spent his entire life looking up to him, wanting to be him. The only thing that rankles is that, again, the writers dropped the ball. Now would have been a good time for Sam to explain why he didn’t look for Dean, for old wounds to be firmly closed for good. That didn’t happen however and there is an odd sense of unfinished business, a tingling fear that maybe both Benny and Amanda aren’t really gone for good…

This didn’t stop this episode from being the best of the season in my opinion. It had everything and more and it left me with a desperate need to see more. It appears as if Sam is in for a whole world of pain and it is something that I both anticipate and fear. No doubt things will only get worse for Dean too, he already feels like a failure and now he has to watch his baby brother suffer, something he is only too familiar with.

The next few episodes promise so much and I only hope they live up to that promise.