Supernatural: Heartache

"I do a lot of cardio."

I'll give them this: I got more than halfway through this episode and still couldn't figure out what the frak was going on. I thought at first it was the haunted body part thingy, which has happened before, but no. When Randa mentioned staying close to the mother ship, I even thought for a moment that they were finally giving us aliens.

So Betsy/Eleanor essentially fell in love with a Mayan athlete who made a God deal and spent a thousand years playing sports, and she just put up with his little heart-eating habit, even to the point of eventually masquerading as his mom. Bleah. Killing someone twice a year for a thousand years equals a whole lot of death. I assume Brick was more discreet about it than the recipients of his body parts, or hunters would have taken him out a long time ago.

The love of a good woman (okay, she wasn't good enough to stop him from committing two horrible murders a year, but "good" in a relative sense) and the prospect of losing her to old age finally changed Brick. But if he was suicidal, and the hearts were keeping him alive and young, why didn't he just stop doing the sacrifices instead of driving off a bridge? Of course, if he had just died quietly, then we wouldn't have gotten a mystifying and gory case of supernatural whats-is to compare thematically to what was going on with Sam.

Dean is a warrior, and a monster hunter down to his toes. He tried a normal life, and it wasn't enough for him. He'll be hunting monsters until he drops or something kills him. But Sam was brought into the life because Dean needed him, and yes, Sam was into it for awhile, but not anymore. Sam is hunting now only because he loves his brother, but he clearly wants out. He wants a wife and a dog and a monster-free job, and he's even re-applied to a university somewhere. He wants Dean to accept it, and to start working alone.

But if Dean had been alone, Randa/Xena would have killed him in a truly horrible open-heart sort of way. Is it fair for Sam to give up the life he wants for Dean's sake? No. But is it fair for Sam to work with Dean for years and then dump him out in the cold to die alone?

I'm not sure if this Sam quitting thing is the way for them to go, because it's so season one. With the exception of when they were in Hell or Purgatory, the brothers have been hunting monsters together forever, and fans of the show have long since internalized that as long as the show continues, they're going to keep hunting together. Even if Sam was sitting in the Impala daydreaming about picnics.

In the flashback, Sam thought something had happened to Amelia, possibly involving monsters, and instead, she was lying in wait with birthday cake. I honestly don't think it was acknowledging that Sam had a birthday that made him all dreamy-eyed, because I'm sure his family and Jess acknowledged his birthdays. It was probably the normality of the situation. You know, we still don't know what happened with Amelia, and I'm starting to get curious. Did they break up, or is she waiting for him to return? Did Sam tell her the truth about his life – possibly the expurgated version? How do you tell your girlfriend that you were Lucifer's chew toy for a hundred years and not sound insane?

Bits and pieces:

— Professor Morrison from "The Slice Girls" was mentioned and consulted for his anthropological expertise, but we didn't get to see him. I feel cheated. If Bobby is gone forever, couldn't they bring in the former Mayor of Sunnydale now and again?

— I knew Randa was going to chow down on that heart. Not as bad as the Valentine's Day episode, but ick.

— Dean has a shiny new non-Bobby flask, and he's keeping holy water in it instead of booze. A little symbol of his new post-Purgatory life.

— Loved that Dean bought a translation app. But considering the languages he usually encounters, it might not have been that cost-effective.

— The Holmes house has been used in other shows. I think it's on a university campus in Vancouver.

— The Bunny Hole. Okay.

— This week: Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ames, Iowa; and Boulder, Colorado. (I lived in one of those three cities for several years. Anyone want to guess which one? [Note from later: It was Boulder.]) The motel room in Boulder had horsies, river rock, wood paneling and a ram's head over the fireplace. Sam was agent Sambora (Bon Jovi).

— Jensen Ackles directed this episode, and did his usual good job. And he got to direct his own father, Anson Ackles, who played a crabby, deadpan detective in an early scene.

Quotes: (pretty much all Dean, all the time)

"That's gotta be a ritual, man. Or at least some sort of a heart-sucking, possessed, Satanic crack whore bat."

"I get it. You took a year off to do yoga and play the lute, whatever. But I'm back. We're back, which means that we walk and kill monsters at the same time. We'll find Kevin. But in the meantime, do we ignore stuff like this or are innocent people supposed to die so that you can shop for produce?"

"A do-it-yourself by-pass, two days after this one."

"It's too bad I dropped out of Lunatic 101."

Sam: (plays the babble) "So what do you think?"
Dean: "Personally, I prefer the Keith Richards version."

"Hey, what are you thinking about? Organic tomatoes?"

"I know where I'm at my best, and that is right here, driving down Crazy Street next to you."

"No new interests? Fly fishing? Stamp collecting? The occult?"

Dean: "Maybe she moved into Brick's room after he died. (pause) Or..."
Sam: "Oh, thanks, Dean. Now that image is permanently etched into my retinas."

Sam: "At least he wasn't sleeping with his mother."
Dean: "Good, Sam. Find the silver lining."

"Really? Our king daddy monster is a stripper?"

I just read somewhere – and I sort of agree – that Supernatural is like sex and pizza; even when it's not great, it's still pretty good. Two out of four organic tomatoes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.

18 comments:

Henrik Bennetter said...

Wait. What? I'm the first to comment? Thankyou, Billie, for making this possible - it has never happened to me in my internet-life, or before for that matter.
I'm rambling, aren't I? Well, only because it's the same feeling I got from this episode. Supernatural, to me, is starting to ramble.
The whole Dean-speech about Sam taking a year off and finding Kevin eventually - which you quoted - just had me getting bored with the whole episode.
First of all that they have this kind of episode every season, where one of them has to explain to the other (or actually us the viewers) that yes, they'll get back to the seasons story arc eventually but now let's just do a monster-of-the-week-thing as filler.
Sad. And what's always been a problem for SupNat - season that are too long.
Think of a series like Breaking Bad. Short, condensed, intense, seasons entirely focused on story- and character-arc.
And yes, sure, SupNat isn't BB. I know. Apples and pears and all that, but nevertheless.

Also, getting a bit tired of the whole "one-of-them's-been-away-for-a-year-and-everyting's-changed" thing. That and, like you said, the season 1-vibe. In a bad way.

Shame. I just wish they'd get on with the arc and please, please, make this season the last - at least for Sam and Dean. I just can't see it trudging on for them after this season.

Gus Brunetti said...

I kind of agree with Henrik. How much longer until they start to tread water? But I'd also agree that SN does excellent monster-of-the-week episodes more often than not. This is not the problem. The problem is, where can you go after Satan? They could have gone to different gods of different religions, hadn't they killed that idea with "Hammer of the Gods". The only way to beat that would be God Himself, but I don't think they'd dare. They're not Preacher.

It's a common thing for a show, after a period where it's generally believed to be a low point, to try and come back to the basics, to a "season one" feel. But after so much has passed, I'm not sure they should on SN.

Billie, in short, I liked your review better than the ep, and it made me think more about the tensions between the boys than when I watched them.

BTW, the strip club they're currently raiding on Dexter is called "the Fox Hole". Clever.

(the caption for this comment contained "arrow". Clever CW.)

ChrisB said...

I'm actually liking the fact that Sam has had enough and I think a big internal conflict (rather than an overwhelming Big Bad) may be just what this series needs to go out on.

Dean is a different guy, unsurprisingly, but I find myself (for the first time ever) feeling more sympathetic towards Sam than towards Dean. As you say, Billie, Dean tried the normal life and didn't like it. Sam obviously did and now he misses it. I loved the opening at the farmers' market -- it encapsulated perfectly how different the boys have become.

But, the thing that is annoying me about Dean is that he won't even listen to Sam. Sam is trying to talk to him and to be open with him; Dean just shuts it down and refuses to even acknowledge the problem. What concerns me is that some day Sam may stop trying and just walk away -- with probable fatal consequences for his brother.

P.S. I love the sex and pizza comment. If I ever use it (or when I use it), I will credit you. :-)

Anonymous said...

But if he was suicidal, and the hearts were keeping him alive and young, why didn't he just stop doing the sacrifices instead of driving off a bridge?

Thank you! I immediately thought that too. He wanted to die. Not eating hearts would cause him to die, easy out. I suppose they threw in the "maybe he thought he'd burn" line to make it sound like he was trying to destroy the heart, but really just stop eating hearts.

As to Sam needing to be there to have Dean's back and keep him alive. It doesn't have to be Sam. Garth said he liked hunting with Dean. Tamara of Mag 7 is still out there. The hunter that found Castiel when Sam was dying is out there. Besides most hunters we have seen don't have partners. Dean is supposed to be the best of the best and he has to have Sam to back him up.

I am annoyed that Dean won't even listen to what Sam wants. In fact he goes so far as to tell Sam that Sam doesn't know what he wants. Only Dean is smart enough to know what Sam wants. Sam has at least asked about what happened to Dean in Purgatory. Dean knows Sam had a life and refuses to ask about it at all.

In the end, Sam won't leave hunting because that isn't how the show goes. So why are they doing this for the third time? Do we have to see that Dean is right about Sam? Do we have to accept that Sam will prove his love for Dean by being miserable for the rest of his life? Can't we find a story we haven't done yet?

Austin said...

Sigh, after 2 strong episodes, Supernatural looks to be settling in to the good ol' monster of the week while nodding to the fact of the season long arc each episode. Sometimes I just don't get it. I know the writers have to crank out 22 episodes a year, but is it really that hard to write a season long arc, with very little detours? That's an honest question, as I don't know much about writing for a TV show. I just wished we could get an intense, season long arc that made you look forward to the next episode.

Paul Reed said...

Hey Austin, I think the issue is less to do with their ability to write a season long arc, and more to do with the practicalities. A lot of networks are nervous about sanctioning such an approach, as there's no late jumping on point. If you don't watch from episode one, you have now way of knowing what's going on, so the potential for picking up new viewers is virtually nil.

A few shows do manage to pull off this kind of storytelling, but the ratings invariable fall away. Stand-alone storytelling makes it easier for viewers to jump aboard any time they want.

As for this week's episode, despite it's weaknesses, one thing I think's really working this season is Dean. The dialogue's giving Jensen ample opportunity to bring out Dean's sense of humour, which for me (with the odd notable exception), has been sadly lacking these past two seasons.

Austin said...

Paul, don't forget that Supernatural has that nifty "Then and Now" segment at the beginning of every show. I think that's enough for anybody to jump on board!

Evan said...

As much as I love Supernatural, the back and forth between Sam and Dean wanting to quit is getting ridiculous. Every season one of them wants to give up, and the other tells them not to. The writers should just have them hunt and not be so soft.

Dean was in Purgatory and Hell, and it looks like he's just going full on hunter.

Sam was possessed by Lucifer and was locked in the cage, and had to go through Post-cage deperession (?)

You would think that after everything they have been through, having a normal life is impossible. It gets tiring hear them complain about having a normal life, because being hunters, killing demons, vampires, and Gods is normal to them.

Paul Reed said...

Hey Austin, I think the "then and now" segments are more for fans than for total newcomers. I'm not the sure any "previously on Lost" section could bring a total newbie up to date. They're more a reminder of what has happened, than a detailed back-story.

Julia said...

This may have been a pretty standard, not great but still good episode, but for some reason Sam's sighing, snorting and/or gasping was even more annoying than usually. Or is it just me?

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie, really like your review, it makes me think of things I normally wouldn’t. But just reading the comments I´m thinking we already reach the Billie's Television Rule #6. I´m not going to dare look into other forums, things must be rabid there, instead I will stick with you, your site is always heaven!
Love, Cecile

Billie Doux said...

I've enjoyed everyone's comments -- thank you all.

(And Cecile, thank you so much! Hilarious.)

celticmarc said...

C-Marc's addenda to law number 6 :

Occasionally, there is a show that you start loving, and then you love it more and more as each season passes. And you never complain, but just once, which is quite exceptional. By the end of its sixth season (hey, just an example here) you are so enthralled with it that you've just realized that it was the best TV show ever produced, at least for yourself. (No need to impose your opinions on others. Tastes are as different as people In Nature.)

And after that it has ended, nothing will be the same. Nor as good....Nor as fascinating. Nor as enthralling....Oh heck, that's the way it is.

Christina said...

My guess is Boulder. In season 1 I think you pointed out a factual error regarding Colorado University and said that you knew because you lived there. Great review, as always.

Jess Lynde said...

Based on the complaints I'm seeing, I'd say this is the reverse of Rule #6. People aren't feeling "meh" because the show has changed; they are feeling "meh" because it feels all too familiar. Sam and Dean having the same fight for the third or fourth time is "been there, done that" and some folks want something new.

I'm not sure where I fall. I kind of like how hard they've made Dean. It feels even more extreme than before. Hard, angst-free Dean seems like a different flavor to me, and I'm curious to see where they go with it. Although his complete disregard for Sam's wishes and feelings is not an endearing trait. And that particular fight does seem like rather well-tread territory.

That said, I'm hoping there's something more to Sam's missing year than it currently appears. And if it really was just a year of living a happy, well-adjusted life, I'm hoping they keep the bright, fuzzy-edged flashbacks to a minimum, like they did this week.

Billie Doux said...

Christina, you were right -- it was Boulder.

Suzie_B said...

I've enjoyed this season so far. I feel like these characters have both earned what they're feeling (even if they're not expressing it well, with Dean's anger and Sam's broody-forehead). We know Dean doesn't talk about hard things until he has to. And Sam feels like he's paid his dues what with 100 years (or whatever) in the box with Lucifer. Maybe it's because I was so irritated with S4 of Vampire Diaries using supernatural or outside things to motivate characters, I'm just relieved that these guys are still basically the same, just nine long, hard years later.

But, seriously, Sam needs a haircut. It's getting out of hand.

Victoria Grossack said...

This question:
But if he was suicidal, and the hearts were keeping him alive and young, why didn't he just stop doing the sacrifices instead of driving off a bridge?

I think Inyo/Brick was compelled to make the sacrifices. If it weren't so compelling, the organ recipients wouldn't have gone ahead with it. On the other hand, I'm surprised he could be declared dead at all. Maybe his brain died from lack of oxygen?