In retrospect, this episode has some disappointments that won’t ever payoff as fully as they tease. On first viewing, however, without knowing what direction the season will ultimately end up and how our character’s storylines will finally payoff, "Love Hurts" has some satisfying moments of character and story.
Let’s start at the beginning. Babysitter Staci, who we know to be sleeping with Husband Dan, has her heart ripped out. Gruesome, bloody, shocking. It could only be a Supernatural Valentine’s Day episode.
Immediately Sam and Dean clue in that the Dan is lying about something and suspect that he and the babysitter were hooking up. As far as investigation scenes go, this one is a creative new way to keep things both light but ghastly at the same: we have the forensic house cleaners shrink-wrapping all the furniture tightly enough that we can still get the impression of the blood stains on the furniture being carried out.
Visually, this was a great episode. It’s always a welcome change to go from backwoods and bunkers to suburbia once and while – you know, where housewives flush cat skulls down the garbage disposal.
Our shapeshifting creature was just creepy enough – with an unusually non-human pallor about it and with crazy eyes, no matter what form it was adopting. So in an office setting, crashing through the front door in the “honey I’m home” fashion or coming through the basement walls, this was eerie and off-putting in any light or skin.
The entire final fight scene was a back and forth of shadow and light: ironically, the Darkness manifestation chasing Dean the most well lit where Sam upstairs was cast in shadows fighting to stab the heart of the qareen and avoid the witch, Sonja.
Curse of the Kiss
This is very Grimm-esque save for the coma and the prince, of course. Although one could argue Dean’s kiss saved Melissa, at least for a time. Interestingly, the primary story wasn’t the witch, however, as she explains to Sam. Her goal is to punish through death – not just the cheaters but the women who want their men to come back to them. She views her mission as weeding out the weak. Curious then that Amara’s mission is one of punishment of a brother she feels betrayed her, and she appears in the episode as the desire that will kill Dean.
Brothers in Arms
One of the best things about this episode – and to be honest, about season eleven (yes I probably am repeating myself on this) is that it’s ripe with Sam and Dean moments: those nuanced brother moments woven through the episode that are small but significant when you know how many times in the past these boys have drifted, been at odds or been fighting to save one another from each other in one way or another. We open with Dean shuffling in from is V-day evening of conquests – hungover but successful and he receives appropriate teasing about his hickey before he’s encouraged by Sam to shower so they can get onto the next case which might be an “ironic werewolf” ripping out hearts.
Of course, the episode is rich in these moments: from Dean bringing home the nanny-cam memory card to Sam’s “my brother is a dork” expression after Dean beats him at RPS and he still insists on taking the upstairs. The boys finally share a very key conversation in the end after Sam learns who appeared to Dean in the basement – and that it wasn’t either of the Daisy Duke actresses. And this exchange is the prime example of how well Sam knows his older brother, he immediately acknowledges his brother’s humiliation without stating it outright and tries to take that from him.
“Standing here right now? Every bone in my body wants to run her through, send her back to that hole she crawled out of. But when I'm near her... I don't know -- something happens. I can't explain it. But to call it desire or love -- it's not that. I'm screwed, man. We want to kill the Darkness. We need to kill the Darkness. And I don't think I can. I'm sorry to do that to you, you know? But when it comes down to it...”
In the moment, this exchange between Dean and Sam is very powerful and emotionally charged. The shame written on Dean’s face is unquestionable and it's clear Sam reads this – he acknowledges this in a multitude of ways throughout the conversation, telling Dean he didn’t have a choice in the matter and that Sam isn’t going to judge him for this. The entire final act is melancholic, revealing and weighty. But ultimately there is information laid on the table for all parties and each brother is clear where the other stands on the issue, be it by choice or otherwise.
Of course, Dean’s “passion” for Amara – desire, connection – whatever term is so applied results in nothing in the end. Watching these episodes which ferverently play up Dean’s desire for Amara and the shame that sits deep within as a result – as independent episodes paying no mind to where it will ultimately lead – they offer some beautiful writing and character development. After all, what do these boys do but internalize and struggle with personal discussions about painful, complicated subjects? On the other hand, the build up with the knowledge of the eventual deflation is disappointing at times. What are your thoughts on this matter?
This was a good episode on first viewing and remains an enjoyable watch today. A good Valentine’s horror story featuring some great acting by our extras and a new addition to the creature feature encyclopedia. Despite the ultimate end to the Amara/Dean relationship, "Love Hurts" opens a window to Dean’s mind at the time and let’s Sam and Dean have a good conversation about the circumstances – Sam letting his brother know that he doesn’t have to be guilt-ridden all the time (not that this stops him, per se). Besides, this episode is worth the watch just to see the boys play Rock, Paper, Scissors and watch Sam’s expressions.
Share your thoughts, initial reaction and views in hindsight, below!