Supernatural: Defending Your Life

"When did our black and white case turn to mud?"

Old ground for Dean. But interestingly, new ground for Sam.

There's a lot more to guilt than culpability. Dean didn't force Jo to become a hunter, and he tried his best to talk her out of it. Sam never had a chance at a normal life after he was chosen by the Yellow-Eyed Demon – and that was Mary's fault, not Dean's. Dean was the one with no childhood and no choice. John Winchester made Dean into a hunter.

Dean doesn't want complexity. He wants monsters to be evil and killing to be simple and conscience-less. It's not, and it never will be. If Osiris had trotted out every person that Dean feels guilty about, they would have been there for days. Jo and Sam were just the high points, and Amy the most recent. (They left out the big one, that John traded his soul for Dean's life. I know, casting issues.) Dean will probably never let go of his steel core of self-loathing. He didn't fight judgment, and didn't try to run. He would have let Jo flick that lighter and immolate him.


At least Dean got some lovely but poignant closure with Jo. The way they looked at each other in that hotel room, the sadness, the love, it got to me. She never admitted that she had loved Dean, but it was there in the way she touched his face before she vanished. (Where did Osiris take Jo from? I would love it if Jo and Ellen were in Ash's heavenly roadhouse having a good time.)

So as I said, old ground for Dean. The best part of this episode was Sam. He took the lead in the hunt, defended Dean at his mock trial, tracked down the ram's horn, and even enjoyed the process. That final scene by the water wasn't the usual brotherly wallow; it was surprisingly upbeat. Sam's conscience is clean. He's certainly paid for any sins he ever committed, and then some. A hundred years as Lucifer's chew toy, and Sam has a more balanced, optimistic view of existence than Dean will ever have. Sam no longer yearns for a "normal life," doesn't flirt with evil, has stopped railing against fate. He's a hunter now, and that's what he does, and he's going to do it well. I really, really liked this. I just wish some of it would rub off on Dean.

Episodes centered on the Winchester brothers are why I love this show. The plot device was predictable, though. I knew it had to be a god playing with them, and just as I was thinking that, Dan said, "Has to be a god." I did like the jovial Osiris, even though he was sort of a cross between the original Trickster and the evil goddess in "You Can't Handle the Truth." For that matter, the apple farm reminded me of the god in "Scarecrow." After seven seasons, it's pretty much impossible not to repeat yourselves, though.

Bits and pieces:

Defending Your Life is a 1991 comedy movie about judgment in heaven.

— The second death with the dog was very hellhound, a strong reminder of Jo's death, as well as Dean's. Do dogs leave ghosts? I bet they do. I could swear I saw the ghost of my cat Vincent at least twice.

— Sam might not have made a good lawyer. He did a lousy job in the "courtroom" before Osiris.

— Dean is still lying about Amy. I'm sure that situation isn't over. Nothing heavy is ever over on this show.

— Breaking into a synagogue for the ram's horn to slay an Egyptian god had an interesting biblical flavor.

— It always feels off when they introduce a big arc plotline like the Leviathans from Purgatory and then we go back to business as usual. You'd think Leviathans would top the chart until they were defeated.

— Many television shows were mentioned in this episode: Judge Judy, Ally McBeal, Pee Wee's Playhouse. Apparently, Sam watches The Good Wife. Is that a legal drama?

— This week: Dearborn, Michigan. The Rainier Hotel, which wasn't quite as weird as the usual skeezy motels. Neal's Tavern, where gods hang out to do you wrong, and the barmaids are awesome.

— Mia the gorgeous barmaid was played by Emilie Ullerup, who was Ashlie Magnus in Sanctuary.

— Where was Bobby? Was that the Campbell Secret Underground Library?

— In this week's hair report, you know what I'm going to say, don't you? Jared's is getting so long that he's not going to be able to pass for a federal agent much longer.

— I don't like to comment on previews because not everyone gets them, but I'm a Buffy fan and I can't wait for next week's.

Quotes:

Sam: "Some kind of ghost?"
Dean: "With a license? (smiles) License to kill."
Sam: "Seriously?"

Sam: "Could be Christine-like."
Dean: "Nah. Even possessed cars can't do stairs."
There was a mention of Cujo, too.

Dean: "I gave up AA for Lent."
Sam: "We're not Catholic."

Mia the barmaid: "I'm like a captive shrink with unlimited alcohol. So shoot."

Bobby: "You two gotta get the hell out of Dodge. This guy hones in on people that feel guilty. Who does that sound like to you?"

Sam: "So it's temporary?"
Bobby: "Long temporary. I say we slap that band-aid on, and leave finding a cure to some hunter in a space suit."

Liked it better the second time I watched it. Do you think it deserves three out of four ram's horns?

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

14 comments:

Sam said...

I loved this episode. It is always good when you just have the brothers working to gether to deal with the monster of the week - I miss those days!

The Good Wife is a legal drama - I laughed out loud when Sam said that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, The Good Wife is a legal drama. So Dean watches soap operas, and Sam watches soapy legal dramas. I grinned and giggled when I heard it.

I miss Jo so much, and I loved seeing her back. The scene at the motel room when she was about to kill Dean was probably my favorite one. It felt nice getting closure on that.

Not my favorite episode, but still pretty good. I just wish that we could have seen Sam's reason why he was takig the horn when the rabbi caught him. I am SO looking foward for next week's though!

3 out of 4 ram's horns.

Anonymous said...

I really liked it too. I put is just a notch above last week's and a couple notches below the first two.

I've gotten used to the "nothing we can do about the [Big Bad]" episodes starting directly after said Big Bad is established. It's become a formula for them at this point. And when the stand alone episodes are entertaining like this one then it's definitely all good.

It seems that even though Jo, Sam and (probably) Amy were the three stones of guilt mentioned in the "trial", we saw others in the flashbacks. I took it to mean all of those stones are hanging around Dean's neck - we saw Lisa and Ben, John on his funeral pyre and I think a couple others that aren't popping to mind right now. My only complaint about the list is that it doesn't include Adam. I think the lack of effort to get him out of the cage is one thing Dean (and Sam) can legitimately feel guilty about.

Thank you Bille, for giving me a place to air my thoughts each week. I love reading your reviews!

RoseCompose

Whyk0 said...

I'm quite proud/ashamed to admit I thought about the license to kill "joke" before Dean did.

Anonymous said...

Huh, nobody remembers Dean, torture expert of hell.

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode but it felt like a filler. I wish that Osiris had summoned up Amy just to see how the brothers would react, mainly Sam.

Harry Earle said...

I appreciate casting issues and limited budget but I don't think they should have done an episode with witnesses to Dean's guilt without a proper run down of the main people who have suffered because of him. They didn't even really deal with the 3 biggies in the right way. Beth was right there with Jo and no mention was made of her. Amy was featured heavily in Dean's guilty conscience but her son who was left an orphan was not shown. Even Sam had a huge list of reasons to blame Dean for stuff, so to only focus on Jess' death and Dean bringing Sam back to the hunt was rather blinkered.

I guess the main reason I am bitching is because this really did feel like a filler episode to me - Where's Castiel? Where are the leviathans? I am not sure I want to watch a show where the various parts of its two leads' psyches are dissected ad infinitum. I also want to be loyal to a show I've watched for 7 years, but I know they can do Way better than this.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with the above post.

Another continuity error - Osiris was making the "victims" kill the people the same way that they died, but Jo was dead *before* the shop blew up, so Dean should have been eaten by a hell-hounds. Again.

Panda said...

Great review Billie.

I have to say though, this was the first episode this season that bored me. I'm all for exploring Sam/Dean drama but for some reason I found it unbelievably irritating during this one. And that trial was quite tedious too.

It was great to see Jo back though, I'm still shocked at the overwhelmingly negative response she got back during season 2, which is why she got written out for so long. It would have been nice to see more of her (And Bela for that matter!).

migmit said...

I'm kinda disappointed. Seems to me, they've attempted to mock a legal drama themselves, and failed — personally, I'd choose any episode of "The Good Wife" over this one (I was very surprised to discover there wasn't anything about this show on your site). Sam mentioning it was definitely funny, but that was just a brief moment.

Osiris was especially boring. He wasn't even remotely frightening. He just looked stupid.

Anonymous said...

The Good Wife is just fantastic, Billie. You should watch it, there's more than legal to it.

Patryk said...

Good to see Alona Tal back for an episode. Too bad they couldn't bring back more of the fallen cast members.

Osiris was fun too, but I didn't see if they were going for funny with Sam'a courtroom antics or just making a point that Sam was delusonal about going to lawschool 'cause he sucked at being a lawyer.

The Big Bads being put on the backburner is typical, but also more organic then during the apocalypse. This time it's just Leviathans going after the Winchesters, the world is not ending.

Jenni said...

Sort of late to the party, but I just saw this episode for the first time.

The ram's horn - that's not just 'interesting' - that's intentional. A shofar is blown at the end of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in Jewish synagogues. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_atonement

Very intentionally interesting considering that Osiris was heaping the guilt on Dean...

ChrisB said...

Does it make me a bad person that as soon as I hear the name Osiris, I immediately flash to Erica Durance as Isis?

I've always liked these types of episodes and this one was no exception. Dean has been plagued by guilt since the minute we met him, so I thought it was a clever way to openly address the issue.

I, too, loved the scene at the end with the two boys. Sam really does seem to be in a much better place than his brother, visions of Lucifer or not.

Looks as though Dean's drinking, which has been alluded to or shown clearly in every episode so far this season, may become an issue.