It was back to business as usual for Sam in Dean in this week’s episode of Supernatural — a case, a kill — but the difference was that throughout the episode, Sam made it quite clear that he has very little interest in “the usual.” And, lately, some fans have been faulting him for that. “Why are they making him ‘selfish’?” “Why is Sam being ‘ruined’?” Etc. But this week’s episode took a stab at explaining Sam’s perspective a bit — and if you didn’t understand his way of thinking by the end of the episode, you probably never will.
But let me back up.
We knew Sam and Dean’s conflict over their hunting future would take center stage in this episode after it opened with the brothers arguing over organic produce at a Farmers’ Market. (Sam’s in favor; Dean doesn’t give a f—) At the heart of the matter, though, was the fact that Dean was angry about the fact that so many cases had fallen through the cracks while Sam was out of the game and busy enjoying “the good things” in life. (The bigger issue? Sam’s shockingly low standards for what is considered “the good things” in life. Fresh apples? Really? That’s cute.)
Dean continued to make Sam feel guilty about it all, but they paused long enough to pursue the case at hand — a weird one that involved “do-it-yourself heart bypasses.” I would elaborate but I was distracted by the presence of two members of the Ackles family sharing the same screen — Jensen Ackles’s dad, Alan, had a guest spot as a smart-mouthed detective. It was sort of perfect.
Anyway, a dead end was followed by another lead, but this one too had its own complication. The man who was allegedly responsible for ripping out another person’s heart was, as Dean said, “a mushroom.” He was an unhelpful, crazy-eyed, nonsense-babbling mess. And not even a demon. In the end, the nonsense turned out to be an ancient Mayan language, and the nonsense was actually a warning about a corn God.
You see, this God had made a deal with a man thousands of years ago who wanted to stay young and strong forever. This man went on to live several generations and become a famous athlete several times over. His latest ID was as a famous football player named Brick Holmes, of whom Sam was a big fan. The price was that the man had to make twice-a-year sacrifices. Fed up, the athlete killed himself by driving off a bridge, thinking the curse would die, too. Wrong.
Holmes was an organ donor and when his parts went to other people, so did the deal. (The crazy man, by the way, was a noble guy who couldn’t deal with the urge to do horrible things. Thus, the crazy set in; luckily, plucking his donated eyeball out set him free.) The woman who received the heart was the one carrying the essence of the original deal-maker, so once Dean and Sam ganked her, the threat was gone. Dean nearly got his heart ripped out in the process, but, hey, all in a day’s work. Story done.
The meat of the episode, meanwhile, was peppered in between the case proceedings. For example, in one scene, Dean told Sam that he was at his best when he was in the car “driving down crazy street next to you.” Then Sam countered saying that, perhaps, Dean didn’t need him as part of the equation to be happy. You can tell Sam didn’t want to hurt Dean’s feelings, but he also didn’t want to lead him on. Telling Dean the truth would be hurtful but so would letting Dean falsely think that Sam was all-in. Still, Dean took offense to the idea that Sam wouldn’t be missed. “Yeah, that makes sense,” Dean said, “seeing as how I have so many other brothers I can talk to about this stuff.” Sam sighed. “Make room for the possibility that we want different things.”
Here’s the thing: They always have wanted different things. This has been the issue since season 1. Once upon a time Sam was a college kid dreaming of becoming a lawyer. Now, he’s a grown man who wants more — and college is, apparently, still part of that equation. (Good for him!) Dean shouldn’t be surprised, but he also has a right to be a little hurt by it. I see both of their perspectives. And, as previously mentioned, I saw Sam’s even clearer by the end of the episode.
In a flashback, we saw Sam running around the park with his dog, Riot, looking for Amelia, the girl with whom he’d spent the last year. He looked worried because he couldn’t find her, and followed Riot nervously when the dog seemed to pick up her scent. Riot ended up leading him to Amelia, who was waiting with a picnic and a birthday cake for Sam. (“You’ve never seen a birthday cake before?”) The look on Sam’s face might have been the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. My one gripe? I really wanted more of this flashback. We’ve seen bits of Sam’s life from the past year — just as we have with Dean’s time in Purgatory. But I thought this was the episode we were really going to dig in. But I guess I prefer a short-but-effective scene to a long scene that means nothing.
So, gang, that’s the episode. My burning questions for you: 1) Did you think director Jensen Ackles did a good job? I have to say that while I went into the episode completely aware of the fact that Ackles was directing, I forgot about it quickly. And that’s a compliment. Bravo to him for fitting in so seamlessly with the seasoned directors who usually helm the show. 2) Did the episode leave you feeling deeply for both Sam and Dean? 3) Are you having trouble seeing a solution that doesn’t hurt one of them? (I am. Sob.) 4) Did you call B.S. on the fact that no one ever noticed that all these famous athletes had the same freaking face? 5) Are you loving Amelia as much as I am — even though we haven’t technically seen much of her? 6) Also, am I the only one who saw tiny sparks between Dean and Dr. Kashi? Maybe I’m nuts. (Though, how great would it be if Sam ended up with a vet and Dean ended up with a doctor? Dear, God. I’m writing fanfiction. I’m stopping now…) 7) Did those Skittles commercials gross out anyone else? 8) Do Dean and Sam share an e-mail address? And/or why was Dean checking Sam’s e-mail?
“Look, dude, I get it. You took a year off to do yoga, play the lute, whatever.” — Dean to Sam. (Yo, artists, what’s a girl gotta do to get some fanart of Sam doing yoga and playing the lute?)
“Personally, I prefer the Keith Richards version.” — Dean re: crazy man’s babble
“Hold on, I bought a translation app.” — Dean, who wasted $.99. (Also, smart professors > apps)
Sam: “You wanna guess who else had a transplant in the last year?”
Dean: “Paul Hayes?”
Sam: “I gave it away didn’t I?”
(The exchanges this year have really been playful and completely on point. Anyone agree?)
“What are you thinking about? Organic tomatoes?” — Dean
Dean: Son of a bitch. There it is; it happened.
Sam: C’mon, don’t tell me someone got their heart ripped out here in Boulder.
Dean: Alright, then I won’t tell you. [walks away]
Sam: It was a dead language: ancient Mayan.
Dean: It doesn’t get much deader than that.
Dean: I got another e-mail here, too. This one is for you from a university answering questions about admissions.
Sam: It’s just something I’m looking into — an option.
Dean: You’re seriously thinking about hanging it up?
Sam: I’m not talking about anything, Dean. I’m just looking at options. [Beat] So what? We go to Phoenix and chase our tails until this guy shows his face?
Dean: No. Brick Holmes is our way into this. Elanor Holmes is doing her damndest not to tell us a thing. Nice job on changing the subject, though.
(This wasn’t necessarily funny. Just a great moment.)
“Hey, Sammy: Would it crush you to know that your boy Brick wasn’t a natural blonde?” — Dean
“Thanks, Dean. Now that image is permanently etched into my retinas.” — Sam, after Dean suggested Brick was sleeping with his mother. (Note: She turned out to be his NOT be his mother but his wife.)
Sam: Brick Holmes, a heart-eater. Who knew?
Dean: Sorry, buddy. The mighty, they fall hard, huh?
Sam: Well, at least he wasn’t sleeping with his mother.