Season premiere!  Can you believe another season is upon us?  I certainly can, and what a long wait.  I’ll admit, I was a bit spoiled by “Exile on Main Street.”  I had to be since I was there at Comic-Con in the press room listening to all the dish.  I knew that Sam would be coming to this pretty messed up.  I knew Dean would be coming to this feeling out of sorts in his new life.  I knew Grandpa would be coming to this mysteriously alive.  So, going from there, it became about presentation.     
 
There’s a quandary I face when writing these reviews and that’s bridging the gap between objective critic and rabid fan.  This is one of those episodes that pit the two sides.  Critically “Exile On Main Street” was flawed.  For the fan though that’s excited that the show is back, I couldn’t be more ecstatic.  So, I’m going to force both sides to meet somewhere in the middle.  

Before starting with an analysis of “Exile On Main Street,” the perspective needs to be set.  This is one very different Dean and one very different Sam.  A year has passed and we’re missing the background as to how they’ve gotten to this point.  All we were told is Dean had a rough year of recovery from grief and Sam after his extreme ordeal in the cage in Hell ended up with the less than fuzzy Campbells hunting.  The brothers are disjointed that’s for sure.  That unease in the relationship transfers into the episode and their time together is often uncomfortable to watch.  Chances are that is an intentional choice.  They’re not recognizable to us and in the coming weeks or months we hopefully will learn why.  That’s your setting for the season.  
 
Dean
 
Beautiful Loser, where you gonna fall?  When you realize you just don’t have it all. 
 
Instantly we get the message through an opening montage to this great Bob Seger song.  Dean is stuck in the middle between the life he has and the life he had.  The shots going back and forth of him in similar situations now and then got me pretty hard, but then again I was already reeling from the part of the Smallville premiere when Jonathan gives Clark that pep talk.  I was longing for the simpler days when he and Sam were together.  However, this is the new Supernatural and once you lose your brother to Lucifer in a cage in Hell, all bets are off.  

  
Dean is not living the comfortable life in suburbia, that’s for sure.  He doesn’t look like he’s living in bliss the second he wakes up. The “I’m good” he tells Lisa comes across as an automatic response with not much truth behind it.  He makes breakfast, he goes to his job (in a pickup!), he hands out beer to friends at BBQs now, he comes home and keeps a watchful eye on everything that goes bump in the night.  He climbs into bed with Lisa, the trusty old shotgun and holy water positioned under the bed where he can reach them.  
 
Dean has found a friend to enjoy beers with and finds that women think he’s more desirable now that he’s unavailable.  He still has his handgun handy though when he thinks he hears screaming in an abandoned building nearby.  He still has his cover story ready when his friend catches him checking out something with said gun waving in front of him (What has Dean karmically done to Yorkies?  Still very funny.).  Every look in his eye tells us this life doesn’t feel right.  Yet he does it out of obligation.  He promised.  
 
Dean is ready with the “I told you so” when it all goes south.  His encounter with the yellow-eyed demon opens a can of worms he saw coming, yet still gives him more than he bargained for.  Dean would have never in a million years thought that Sam would be back and not tell him.  Jensen’s portrayal of Dean’s overwhelmed reaction to not only Sam and Samuel being alive but that Djinn were endangering his family is gut-wrenching and so well done.  The comment “take me home” gives me chills.  I still can’t get used to the idea he has a home. 
 
Oh, Dean, how did you end up with such a perfect woman?  Dean seeks refuge at Bobby’s house and Jim Beaver knocks his short time in this episode out of the park.  I was stunned to see Bobby not only be sad to see Dean, Lisa and Ben on his doorstep but that he knew for a year Sam was alive.  His reasons for not sharing Sam’s secret is far more heartfelt than Sam’s earlier plea.  Bobby desperately needed to know that someone could escape the hunting life and be happy.  He desperately wanted that someone to be Dean.  Considering his perspective of a hunter that has grown old alone and constantly facing death, why wouldn’t he want that for someone he considers to be a son?  Why wouldn’t he be upset that Dean has been pulled back into this?    
 
However, watching Dean describe to Bobby the agony of his year blew me away.  The strong chemistry that comes from Dean and Bobby together is better than ever.  Dean lets both Bobby and Sam know the toll of the past year.  â€œI showed up on their doorstep half out of my head.  God knows why they even let me in.  I drank too much, I had nightmares.  I collected hundreds of books, whatever I could to bust you out.”  Also intriguing in that scene, the way Sam listened.  More on that later though.  
 
Then there is Dean and Lisa’s heart to heart on the stairs.  Talk about chemistry.  Her patience is incredible!  She knew what she was getting into with Dean and took him in anyway.  â€œYeah, but when a guy who basically saved the world shows up at your door, you expect him to have a couple of issues.”  Despite everything, the struggles, Dean has become the role model she always hoped for Ben.  A Dad.  â€œDo you think it was all bad Dean?  Because it was the best year of my life.”  These two really are amazing together and no wonder Dean can’t easily walk away.  
 

 
Beautiful loser, read it on the wall, And realize, you just can’t have it all
 
The entire Dean hallucination scene reminded us why this is also a great horror show.  It’s been so long since we’ve had a really scary sequence like that and this is perfect because every cut is a major poke at Dean’s worst fear.  â€œYou can’t stop it.”  â€œIt’s all your fault.” Ben drinking demon blood, Lisa on the ceiling.  He’s still clearly traumatized from losing those that he loves.  It’s getting in the way of his true happiness.  
 
Sam
 
The new title card by no accident is shards of exploded and shattered glass flying in the air.  Sure, that’s meant to show the shattered state of the brotherly relationship, but it also really applies to Sam.  Unlike Dean, he hasn’t had the love of a strong woman to pull him out of his trauma.  He’s coasting on auto pilot and hanging out with the Campbells isn’t doing him any favors.  In other words, under those layers is one giant mess.  
 
Poor Sam has been broken to the point that he’s uncaring, unfeeling, and unable to relate or connect with anyone, including his own brother.  He spends most of the episode cavalier and matter of fact about everything, even over the fact that he escaped from Hell a year ago and didn’t tell Dean.  The reunion scene is troubling, that’s for sure.  Dean is reeling from the shock, Sam is very casual.  Even later when Dean asks Sam if he remembers the cage, Sam refuses to talk about it.  Sam seems like he’s given up on the idea of finding out why he’s back.  He’s just happy he is, or so he claims to be.  It’s a better alternative to Hell, but his sense of purpose is missing.   
 
Behind that jerkish facade there are signs that Sam is drowning and not too far gone.  In his hug with Dean, there is that small smile that shows how much he misses his brother.  Then there is the look of sympathy when Dean rushes home and frantically calls out for Ben and Lisa.  There’s the caring Sammy we all know and love!  When he listens to Dean’s story in front of Bobby, that is guilt on his face, I swear!  The cold exterior is a front.  





Comments  

CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2010-09-27 02:23
What can I say - I loved this review ! :-) I agree with many parts of it :P - and it also offered a lot of new insight (at least for me).

I agree that Dean, Lisa, Bobby and the YED (among others - oh, also "Beautiful Loser")are the standouts (at least for me) in "Exile on Main Street".
Rlwgsd
# Rlwgsd 2010-09-27 03:00
i agree with some of this but feel that you left out one of the best parts of the episode. When Christian questions Dean's professionalism in dealing with the djinn and calls him rusty. I loved Deans smack down although it was not the old smart ass Dean who would have just called him a dick and started a fight but a matured Dean who pointed out a better plan and he is indeed still the best humter on the planet. The director missed an oppurtunity to get a shot of Sams reaction and his pride in Deans maturity. Although there are flaws it is still a great episode and i cant wait to see more of the Charger in the future. I love that car not as much as the Impala but it is still a cool car. I am glad to see that they did not go for the easy answer of a mustang{witch is still a car for P******(thank you Eric Kripke))or another Chevorlet.


Thank you for your and insights. I now have to watch the episode again so that i can see what you see.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-09-27 03:32
There is the explanation why Dean is faced with mysterious Yorkies again - karmic burden! Thank you, Alice, for bringing that to light. :-)

This was another episode filled with pain, and it comes in many faces. Did we expect anything less? I love your thoughts about Dean's and Sam's inner life, and I agree with you.

There will be fans complaining about Sam being all cold and others will be upset that Dean stayed with Lisa and chose her over his brother, I'm sure of that. I already feel sorry for them, as they will have missed the layers of this ever-multifacet ted show. It's in the little hints that what's going underneath is to be discovered - but, indeed, we have to hear the full story.

I would love if Sam actually finally, very finally got a chance at a good cry, to lighten his burden. I'm offering two gentle arms to hold him ;-) (come on, a girl can dream, eh?)

Just as you, I didn't love the season opener. I loved to have the Winchesters back, and Bobby (Oh, Jim Beaver, what a great job indeed in those few scenes, what a soulful performance). There were moments that tug at my heart with recklessness. I am pretty much scared and fascinated by the questions rising up and the answers we might (or might not) get.

I never doubted that I would continue to love this exceptional show. It has never really disappointed me. What I appreciate about a show or a film has always been there and will continue to be. I am quite sure of that (and that I will want to slap the writers occasionally for putting the brothers through more misery than any man could possibly handle...)

Thank you for this ever great review, Alice! Jas
Julie
# Julie 2010-09-27 05:11
Thanks for this Alice , I agreed with many of your thoughts here.
This really felt like the set up for a whole new shed load of problems which I feel sure are going to tear both our beloved boys and us apart.
I just loved the fact that we got some more Bob Seger and indeed `Beautiful Loser ` was perfect for the situation Dean now finds himself in. But despite all the grief I was so pleased to see the tiny glimmers of the `old` Dean still there , the ` it`a almost like I am a professional` especially made me ridiculously happy , how we cling to small threads of hope ! But he still broke my heart so many times during this one (again) The `What I wanted was my brother alive ` tears me up on every re watch.
And then Sam , where to start! unlike you I felt really uneasy about the reunion hug , One way or what ? The small, what I saw as a smirk rather than smile on Sams face , and his statement that he would not had even thought about going off to try to save Sid, really scared me , because there was a time when he would have been out the door too as that was what he was taught to do , remember TMTM he never gave up in the Niveus wharehouse !
I loved your reference again to Bob Segers `Famous finle scene ` and my mind as usual flies straight to the lyrics and how some of them resonated
Think in terms of bridges burned,
Think of seasons that must end.
or for Deans doomed apple pie existence
And how you tried to make it work,
Did you really think it could
How you tried to make it last
Did you really think it would.
Please dont let them kill off Lisa and Ben - I loved her , let them be there as a safety net.
Cant wait to see where we go from here , I know there`s going to be a lot of fallout from all the revalations and events in this one , Oh and I dont trust any of the Campbells as far as I could throw them !
Robin Vogel
# Robin Vogel 2010-09-27 09:01
I also saw a smirk on Sam's face during the hug, and it gave me chills. I really am fearful that what has come back isn't Sam at all, but Lucifer, or perhaps a Sam/Lucifer hybrid (Samifer). Then again, the promo for this show told us, "TRUST NO ONE!" That might mean even Dean and Sam are suspect, right?

I was very disappointed after my first viewing of this show, but after watching it twice more, felt differently. The scenes with Bobby when they first go to his house, when Dean tells Sam and Bobby how horrible it was for him not knowing Sam was alive, Dean's staircase discussion with Lisa (she is the most understanding woman on the planet), the final moments between the brothers. I wanted to hear Sam say, "Come back to hunting with me because we're brothers and I miss you." I think if Sam had said that, Dean would have gone with him.

I have a very uneasy feeling about Sam, Samuel and those weird cousins. For Sam to do a 180 and try to pull Dean away from normal--just doesn't seem like the Sam we know and love--and perhaps it isn't!

Love,
Robin
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-09-27 09:54
I have the same interpretation for Sam's little smile as Alice. I think he was genuinely happy to see Dean but in more subdued way, which seems to be his way now. Is as though he's afraid to have sentimental bonds. I read no evil in it. I feel Sam is in deep trouble and like I said in another posting, I think he'll need Dean's help more than ever.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-09-27 10:15
Nice review, Alice. Yes, the episode lacked a lot of feeling and spark. Many scene were too rushed and some to slow. I liked Dean not giving up on his brother, and his caring feelings for Lisa. That's what Dean has always done. He misses the hunt and definitely his brother. But it was obvious, Dean’s only family is Sam, and once again, they are having the brothers hurt each other…I really wish they wouldn’t do that.

Really, the reunion was flat. Gamble & Com really want to sell the idea that leaving Dean suffering and grieving for a year was alright, hence the mediocre reaction from Dean to that event and Bobby's defending it like he did. Bobby above all others knows what it’s like to think a loved one is dead. For me, that was the first time I’ve seen them not be true to Bobby’s character, but, I guess it was necessary for whatever story they are telling.

I really thought Dean and Lisa’s ‘staircase’ was Dean saying good bye too. I can see why he stayed; they helped him through a very tough time, when he brother left him alone. I would have felt very bad if Dean had just picked up and left with Sam. For whatever reason Sam didn’t come back to Dean, he didn’t, and really Dean owes more to Lisa and Ben right now. But Sam is right…he is only putting them in more danger.

I think for the fan’s sake, they could have ending the episode better. Showing more happiness that the boys were going forward again….like Sam offering to stay and help Dean protect Lisa and Ben or offering to help take them some place safe. Not just ..good to see you again Dean, take care.

On a side note: My first thought about Dean looking for Sam….why wouldn’t he have contacted Bobby or Cass for help? That was one of the oddities the episode suffered. Also I really had hoped for more of Nicholas Elia in the episode. He is such a fine actor.
magichappening
# magichappening 2010-09-27 11:25
Really interesting review, Alice. Made me think.

I think your and some of the commenters' points about awkwardness are valid, but to me,as you suggested, that was what they were going for. The guys were awkward so the episode was awkward so we felt awkward. The point was to unsettle us and to challenge us with how much the guys have changed.

Interesting that you saw the title card as glass shattering. I saw it as a mirror shattering - as I said in my comment on Elle's review at some length!

I think the different reactions to Sam's smirk are fascinating - I did not see it as a smirk as much as a detached smile. It looked to me like someone who was remembering a feeling with nostalgia but not feeling it very deeply - Sam hugging Dean reminded him of before. But it looked strange and swkward (there's that word again) - it was not heartfelt or natural. More like a pefunctory vestigeal social gesture to a stranger, than relief at embracing his family - like the real Sam was shut down somewhere and this superficial Sam is on autopilot, going through the motions.

To me that ties in with Sam;s words to Dean before he left him behind, 'It was really good to see you again, Dean'. Really? REALLY? This is guy who you said 'There is NOTHING I wouldn't do for you', 'You're my brother and I'd die for you' and whose death caused you to crawl into the bottle for, become a 'drug' addict for, whose memory pulled you back from becoming Lucifer and you say 'It was really good to see you again, Dean'? Are you serious????? Like you just met at a barbecue?

Not that I feel strongly about it or anything :-)
elle2
# elle2 2010-09-27 11:40
Alice,

Great insights. We see many things alike and many things not so alike. That's cool.

I really did like this episode despite it's uneasiness but frankly for me it's the uneasiness that really brought it for me. This is a whole new world, brave or otherwise, and I'm deliciously excited to see what is in store.

Since I know the brothers are going to get back on the road together in the future I'm very happy that it didn't happen here. If it had, it would have felt forced, too quick and as if frankly neither brother had really changed but that they were still hopelessly co-dependent. I like the more independence ,doesn't mean they don't need each other.

Like you said, Sam is very well aware that he needs Dean, in fact, he may need Dean more than Dean needs him and that indeed is a switch (Devil's Trap... "You fight and you fight and you fight for this family, truth is, they don't need you; not like you need them.") Here Sam most definitely needs Dean and Sam knows it; he won't admit it though but that has always been Sam's modus operandi (Bloody Mary anyone?)

As for Dean with the waitress....min or, minor, minor quibble but he doesn't think women want him more now that he'a 'available' but he says it's because he's 'unavailable' likely just a typo (I make tons) but it speaks volumes for where he's at mentally with Lisa and I for one like it a lot.

I don't expect him to get married and settle down (it is Supernatural after all) and it would bum me out on the show but I like that he's got some kind of commitment thing going on with Lisa.

This is going to be an interesting package that unfolds week after week and I'm looking forward to it.


I'm glad our show is back. Bring on Fridays at 9:00 p.m. EST.
Zara
# Zara 2010-09-27 12:42
I loved this review! Very insightful and very well written. I agree on most all accounts and even saw a new perspective on the Sam/Dean interaction in this eppie. It was awkward and where I thought perhaps there might be something nefarious up with Sam and that was the reason for his awkwardness, it never really occurred to me that perhaps his coldness was because he was covering or masking his pain underneath. I hated that Sam kept Dean from knowing he was alive that whole year. After what Sam went through when Dean was in Hell, you just didn't expect Sam to dish out the same misery. I understand his reasoning (or at least what he told Dean was his reasoning) but I still hate that he did it. It seemed selfish and cold hearted. And I think it blinded me from seeing how much Sam was hurting and how much he "needed" Dean. Which is a great switch up because Dean has always felt like Sam never really "needed", or maybe the correct word is "wanted" him. I love the idea that Sam needs Dean now and is to stubborn to admit it.

I also a Lisa/Ben/Dean fan. I love how caring Lisa was with Dean and his "OCD about these things". I dont really want to see them stick it out because I think Dean going home after every hunt would be boring, but I would love to see Dean and Lisa get their chance when the Supernatural story ends, which hopefully will be many many seasons from now. :-)

And I agree on what you said about how much Bobby wanted a normal and safe life for Dean, someone he considers a son. That whole scene was gut wrenching yet heartwarming at the same time. I just love Bobby. I think he's such a great voice of reasoning for the boys and a great father figure.

The Campbells... hummmm.. jury is still out on them but something is definitely up and may not be in a good way. I would really hate to think that more betrayal is in the works but I see it coming.

All in all, I loved the eppie, but do agree that there were some jerky moments in the story and I hate that we didn't get the scene where Sam saves Dean from the djinn's poisoning. That was rushed to me and I felt it deserved its moment in the sun, because the boys are at such odds right now, a little concerned saving was in order.

I can't wait to see whats in store for us. I think its going to be a very fun and heartbreaking ride. Just as long as we get to see our boys each week, its all good :-) And I can't wait to see your reviews each week! Love reading them and love the insight they always bring. Thanks so much for your words.
anonymous
# anonymous 2010-09-27 13:32
I liked the episode, as it would not be realistic for them to just go back to as they were before. Loved Sam's car. Want to know what his choice of music would be.....Sorry for the gramatical mistakes if there are any . English is not my primary language.
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-09-27 13:52
Great review Alice, I certainly understand your view of the episode. I think I loved it myself, but am not sure whether it is just because they are back after such a long hellatus or did I really love it for itself? :sad:

I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about the boys chemistry missing. I long desperately for the time they have that again as that was what made me such a big fanatical fan of this show. I loved the love (unspoken of course) that was so obvious before. Please let us have that again before long.

Not sure myself if Sam is really still Sam at all. I hope the real Sam will show himself soon as I do not take to this one at all. All I can think of right now is how much he made Dean suffer for a whole year imagining his brother in torment in hell. He should have remembered his own feelings when Dean went there. It hasn't been that long ago after all. And I have to admit, as heartfelt as Bobby was in his reasoning not to tell Dean Sam was alive, I can't believe he would keep it from him after living through the same hell himself when he thought Dean was gone forever. It appeared to me as if Dean was betrayed by the two people he loves the most, and so how can he trust completely either of them again? So sad!
"Trust No One" indeed! :cry::

So much to be revealed and hopefully for the season we will watch the boys gradually come closer together on the same page and finally get that wonderful chemistry back again.

This show is my obsession and no matter what the writers throw at me, I will be there obsessing as long as it is still on the air. ;-)
MariaVictoria
# MariaVictoria 2010-09-27 14:01
Thanks for the wonderful review Alice. I completely agree with your statement "too much of a change at once for many of us". I did not know what to think after I saw it, I was really haunted by it and woke up in the night thinking about it! I really didn't know if I liked it or not! Subsequent viewings have added so much more depth to the whole show. Dean's face while he is sitting watching Sam show him that he is not a demon is heartbreaking and showed to me the emotional depth of pain that Dean was experiencing and keeping hidden from himself and of course Lisa. All of the ache he was once again holding in....a beautifully executed scene.

I agree wholeheartedly with you that it was poorly paced and not told well and I think therein lies the complains that are bound to be hurled by haters. But, on further watchings I found both boys fascinating in their reactions to everything. I too was carefully watching Sam's expression while Dean and Bobby were talking, I couldn't figure out what was going on with him!

I felt so indifferent about the whole Campbell clan and really appreciate your thoughts on them.

All in all............ can't wait for more! As usual, the guys are in top form, wonderful acting from Jensen, Jim and especially Jared, so much bottled up and tightly woven into every nuance!

I do worry that I am just prejudiced and cannot see past my love for the show, but dang, I just don't feel that strong about anything else I watch (not that I watch much else, I have only so many hours, too much work and too many kids)!

Thanks for your wonderful insight, love, love, love reading your reviews!
coxfire
# coxfire 2010-09-27 15:53
Too much to say for this ep but you sum it up really well...
A few things made me really sad, and, yes, it feels like Sam has lost the ability to feel, and Dean has been through too much to just jump back into the ride.

Something I found was really sad, was that Dean did not reply anthing to the “It’s good to see you again Dean”, 'coz seeing Sam was great at all for him. Just reminded him he spent a sh*tty year longing for someone, something,and finally being as lost as before when he gets it (not sure it's clear, sorry). I found it really heart-wrenching . Props to all J's that knocked it out of the ballpark all along the ep'.
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2010-09-27 16:33
Great review, Alice. I agree with you on almost all accounts with this one. Some of the pacing was a little off, like they tried to cram so much in here to set it all up for the season that there was just too much there and it got rushed.

I loved the Dean's new life montage and everything that happened at Bobby's house. And the end scene was sort of tragic. Sam so wanted Dean to come with him but just could not admit just how much he needed him. And Dean could barely look at Sam he was so guilty about not going with him.

But the one thing I don't agree with is the awesomeness of Sam's new car. I just don't like the new Chargers! It looks so...I don't know, sedanish? I am actually pretty ambivalent about most of the new muscle cars except for the Dodge Challenger. That thing is sweet.
Lindsay
# Lindsay 2010-09-27 18:48
You summed it all up so well, Alice. Thank you. :-)
CandyMaize
# CandyMaize 2010-09-27 21:48
Great, well-thought out recap/review.

I generally don't like to make same comments on multiple sites, so instead I'll just mention THIS:

I LOVE that Supernatural took their first little Season 6 stab at True Blood, and the Twilight series (not to mention the CW's own "The Vampire Diaries"). Vampires (nocturnals) out in daylight. Werewolves that don't need a full moon. OTHER things they've never heard of before (eg Fairies ..)

Things apparently brought on by the Kripocalypse .. hmm .. you know, Supernatural probably HAS helped pave the way a little bit for them. ;-)
Alice
# Alice 2010-09-27 23:03
Wow, so many good comments. This is just the review! I'm also writing the full length recap. So many good thoughts now to share there.

Just FYI, I'm no longer writing for Blogcritics so my reviews will be on this site for now.
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-09-28 03:58
Hi Alice.

Great review and I agree with so many things.It was very lacking on some moments. I was def. dissapointed about the djinns, it could have worked so, so much better esp. since viewing this brought back all the memories from What is and what should never be which is a classic. This one? Sadly no.

But it wasn't a trainwreck. Quite decent episode and like so many, after watching it, I felt so disconnected. Which I should. I love the whole noir vibe they have going on. The melancholy, the loneliness, the darkness and emptiness. And the angst is spreaded thick just the way I like it :-)
I truly liked to watch everyones, esp. SamNDeans reactions, they were fascinating and heartbreaking. And I had to remind myself over and over that It's been a year! SO much has happened that we don't know about. I truly hope we get more than 1 ep to show us what... It's just so fascinating, this setup. I can't wait to see what is coming.

Few thoughts that popped in mind while viewing:

-The musical montage: so beautiful, I got all weepy. And the song? One of my faves now, never heard it before and I feel like I've been robbed of this beauty.
- Dean seeing Sam for the first time. "So I'm dead?-- This is heaven?" It was so underplayed when Sam jumped at the YED remark, but heaven?? Oh be still my heart! And naturally Sammys autopilot made it allkinds of flat and cold, but it still stopped my heart. Sam is Heaven. *sob*
- I'm wondering if Sams been like this (roboSam) all the while (which I'm suspecting) or the if the solo year has done this... I feel so intrigued and love him no less. Like he's been swiped clean of all Samish in the pit and returned just hollow a year ago, I feel so tragically for him. It rings true that he would stay away. I agree he's totally going through the motions and just thinking "I should feel this way". I like what some other reviewer somewhere said that Sam doesn't remember his old life like he lived it, more like a movie he's seen and feels disconnected. He just doesn't remember how it all felt so telling that he doens't feel anything doesn't seem so out of place, this is who he is now, stating facts, being practical. He remembers what he should be doing, hunting, and just 'does' that. But Dean is getting to him. Ah bless him.
- Bobby's reasoning (for not telling) on the other hand seems more off, he's usually more "tell it all" and not the John Winchester "need to know, keep you in the dark" -variety. I agree that it was so so wrong to keep Dean in the dark about Sam not being in hell for both of 'em, but it seems I get more Sams side that I do Bobbys. Bobby is the same he's always been, Sams not. But let's just see what's coming in the future, there are all kinds of lovely angsty bits on the way I bet.
- When Sam says "Good seeing you again" Dean looks, for just a split second, like he is going to cry and I wanted to hug him so bad! *heart* These actors are so amazing, it deserves to be mentioned every single time they come on screen. We have the best brother duo on tv ever, and the best actor playing them :-)
- This eppie should have been much much more á la In my time of dying methinks. That would have been perfect. We've had so many premieres with action and too much info and moving around alot that it would have been nice to just see something... simple and personal. But still keep it detached and sorrowful. It's been a year after all.

Oh darn, and I was going to keep this short ;-)
Suze
# Suze 2010-09-28 08:09
Bit late, as usual ... :roll::

I'm massively glad they're back but this was a tad clunky in parts ...

Loved the intro. Well chuffed that the writers didn't carve up Bendy Lisa and Lil' Ben to precipitate Dean back into the game, could still happen of course, it just depends if it's a Vengance-Trail- Of-Dean-Winches ter scenario or a One-Last-Job-Be fore-You-Hang-U p-Your-Guns one. Hope it's the latter 'cos I like them and I can't raise any such fondness for sneaky, djinn-girly collecting old Grandpa C and his trio of monosylabic minions. If Sam's been hanging out with them all year I'm not surprised his head's a mess and he's pining for Deano and days gone by.

Never mind though, lots of lovely episodes to come! :D

PS. As for the Dodge, his fairy godmother gave it to him and it turns back into a pumpkin at midnight. ;-)

PPS. ... And Grandaddy C and his crew all turn into rats.
Scarlotti
# Scarlotti 2010-09-28 10:54
Alice, as always your review is well thought out, and offers several new insights into the episode that I'd missed.

But I have to say that I was much more disappointed with this episode than you.

All summer I've been reading that Season 6 will return to the meat & potatoes self-contained, mini-movie style episodes of the first 2 seasons. Friday's episode was anything but. In fact, it was even further away from this than Seasons 3-5.

The first two seasons not only worked as mini-movies -- they played like them. They seemed to have all the plot-points of a full blown screenplay crammed into 40 minutes ... and yet (what was so amazing about them) you never feel that anything is being rushed.

The later seasons (partly to accommodate the increasingly weighty myth-arc) attained this sense of completeness. Too often the monster of the week felt tacked on, rushed, and almost superfluous to the story. Such was certainly the case with Exile.

The first 20 minutes were brilliant. Normal-life Dean discovers something mysterious happening in his apple pie corner of surburbia. If only the episode had continued along this line: exploring Dean's relationship with Lisa & Ben while the mystery keeps deepening -- becoming more and more bizarre (and threatening to Dean's peaceful lifestyle) -- until Sam appears to save Dean *at the end*!

But the story was derailed to throw in questions about Sam's escape and the existence of the Campbell family and further questions about the changing habits of monsters ...

What we got was a glimpse of Dean's new life (mostly shown in the opening montage), a couple lines of dialogue btw him and Lisa, and a peek at Ben (provided that we didn't blink); an intriguing mystery that goes ... nowhere; the introduction of 3 new characters (regulars?) who do little more than say "howdy"; and a ton of questions that remain unanswered.

Basically Sera (usually one of my favorite writers) attempted to squeeze elements warranting 3 separate episodes into one. Exile should have ended with the appearance of Sam. Episode 6:2 should continue with the mystery as Sam and Dean tentatively reunite while solving it. Episode 6:3 would introduce the Campbells.

Here's hoping things get back on track soon.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-09-29 03:31
Boys (and Alice), must you make my heart hurt so?

I’m going to try to keep it short(ish) and succinct. (You’ve no idea the amount of editing down that took!)

Opening scene. Glass v mirror: I’ve got to go with glass, just for the metaphor, really. Ok, let’s take it the boys are made of glass. After Swan Song, they are both shattered to pieces. Lisa and Ben helped glue Dean together. Now he’s cracked, vulnerable, will never be the same again but he’s functioning. He now resembles a person again. He’ll always be cracked but he’ll only get more stable as these pieces fuse together more over time.

When Sam was shattered, there was no one there to glue him back together. Whoever yanked him out of hell merely shoved all the pieces into a box and secured the lid tightly. Technically he’s all there, but he’s as far from whole as you could get. However, broken glass is sharp and if you rattle or weaken the exterior, the pieces will start tearing away from the inside until suddenly there is a hole in the box and all the pieces start leaking out, ready to be rebuilt.

The reunion scene. Jeez, what to say? There was such a high level of expectation surrounding it that unless the boys got nekked and did a little ‘happy to see you’ dance, some people were going to be disappointed. It so worked for me though. I love that Sam is in such logical hunter mode that, before anything, he just cuts and drinks, without even being asked. I love how Dean didn’t (couldn’t?) ask. I’d say if Chucky from the Goonies turned up with long hair, puppy dog eyes and said he was Sam, Dean would have believed him because he wanted to believe it was Sam so bad.

The sheer desperation of Dean’s hug, wanting to be as physically close to his brother as possible, before coherence set in and he actually thought to ask him ‘How?’ Sam, acting like he didn’t know what a hug was and then that tiny little grin and imperceptible nod as if to say ‘Yeah, I think I remember this. This feels right.’

Dean’s ‘Am I in heaven?’ Ah, ffs show, stop kicking me while I’m down....

Sam’s reveal that he’s been back for over a year? That, more than anything, should tell us about Sam’s state of mind. He genuinely doesn’t comprehend how much it would affect Dean. Sam, the guy who empathises with everything from vampires to Rugarus can’t feel his brother’s pain?? Dang, what have they done to you, Sammy?

I love the little strut and glance back at Dean that Sam gives when he’s about to introduce him to the Campbells. The sappy part of me thinks it’s like he’s trying to impress his big brother.

The Campbells strangely don’t bother me. They are there to be antagonists but looking at them as an outsider, there’s really nothing ominous about their behaviour. Samuel, in fact, seems quite understanding. Ok, Gwen is a bit of a dick but let’s face it, she’s a female on Supernatural, she’ll probably be dead within a week!

They consider themselves hardcore hunters; of course they have superiority complexes. They treat Dean with disrespect because he’s a hunter who choose to get out. They’ don’t care about the reasons why. Maybe they have no idea what Sam and Dean have done, especially if Samuel was also dead. (I doubt the Hunter’s Weekly would sell too well during the Apocalypse.)

It’s kinda cool though, they treat Dean pretty much the same way an earlier Dean would have treated civilians ‘No, they were doing OUR job, and they sucked’. It’s also great how Dean inherently knows what to do, completely showing the Campbells up; despite the fact he’s 'rusty.' Once a hunter.....

He bought Lisa and Ben to Bobby. Ooooh, Bobby. His reasons for not telling Dean were so bloody heart-rending. Every dad wants what’s best for their son; every dad thinks they KNOW what’s best for their son. Bobby considers Dean a son, that’s why he didn’t tell him. Such honour! Ah Bobby, if I weren’t so shallow and you didn’t wear trucker hats (and I didn’t have a burning passion for your surrogate sons and their dad), I would so be hitting on you right now.

I’m really not that pushed about the monsters of the week. Djinn, cool and all but for this episode, a means to an end, really. I do find it quite interesting that during the hallucination, when Lisa was on the ceiling, she told Dean it was his fault. I wonder if Dean also blames himself for Sam. It’s also quite thought provoking that his worst nightmare involved Lisa and Ben and not Sam.

Dear Sam. You completely suck at golf club to hand combat. Next time, kick him in the nuts and run away. He’s a MONSTER who is trying to kill you. He’s not going to be impressed by your golf swing.

Dean’s attempt to get Sam to talk and Sam’s flat out refusal. Not a ‘Dean, I can’t talk about it right now’ refusal but with the little laugh before he said ‘No’ it’s more like a ‘That’s the dumbest suggestion I ever heard’ kind of a no. Damn...

The boy’s gonna talk, though. Every minute he’s with Dean all those emotions he locked away in a secure little box are slowly digging their way through. Couple of episodes time; cue the MOTHER of all breakdowns and let the rebuilding commence.

Sams ‘No, I wouldn’t’. He actually debates this over in his head before deciding. Poor baby. Lucifer, if I get my hands on you, boy....

The final scene. Sam saying no to the Impala and his ‘It was good to see you again, Dean.’ I swear to God, if I weren’t a gibbering wreck on the floor right now...... There’s been quite a bit of discussion as to Sam is a bit of an arse by refusing to take the Impala. I can’t think why. As was already said, if Sam takes it, it’s recognition that Dean isn’t coming back. It’s also like a consolation prize for Sam, ‘Well Sam, I don’t want to go with you but here, take my car instead.’ It would act as a constant reminder that he was rejected. It could also be argued that Sam saying ‘no’ to the Impala is because he DOES have emotion and he’s afraid if he takes the car, the memories will corrode his game face.

I really like how Lisa was made relatable. A three way love triangle: Dean who was shattered, Lisa who helped put him together and Sam (the first love) responsible for devastating Dean. No wonder Lisa is pulling out all the stops to keep him. She might see Sam as harmful, not just to the relationship but to Dean himself. We don’t know what Dean told Lisa about Sam but as far as Lisa is concerned, Sam is now the other woman in the equation. (Wayhay, a brand spanking new nickname for Sam!)

Things for me to think about for the next few days/weeks....

1. What state was Sam in when he came back? Did he come back detached as he is now, or was this facade something he cultivated over the year?

2. Who COULD have get him out? The demons? Um, why? Angels? Save the ‘abominationâ €™ with demon blood running through his veins? Not likely. Did he manage to crawl out by himself? Was he spat out of hell? Is Sam so ... wrong that not even hell would take him or is he so right that hell COULDN’T take him?

3. Is Sam now (officially) the world’s biggest freak? I’m pretty sure no other individual has ever survived drinking gallons of demon blood, housing Lucifer and jumping into the Pit. And not only survived, but (on the surface) has thrived! Who (what) is he now? Could a reason he stopped looking for answers be that he was afraid of what he’d find out?

4. Emotionless Sam v Emotion-suppres sed Sam: I think when Sam came back he had the emotions and he decided to bury them. Surely the cold, rational thing to do would have been to GO to Dean because that way he would have benefitted. He’d have gotten his brother AND a hunting partner back.

Like (I think) someone else said, 'Sammy' didn't work. 'Sammy' was a demon blood drinking, Apocalypse starting, mistake. Maybe Sam feels that, when he got out, he got a chance for a 'do-over' and this new Sam was a better, safer for everyone else, option.

5. Why, when I think of Azazel in 6.01, do I think of Pennywise the Clown?

6. Does anyone else think that Sid might remind Dean of Sam, in a physical sense? He’s tall and broad like Sam AND has floppy hair.

7. I wonder what Sam’s hallucination was when he was under the Djinns poison.

8. I wonder if Samuel knows WHY Sam was in hell. Surely if the rest of the Campbells knew and they’re as hardcore as they believe they are, they’d have tried to take Sam out a long time ago. (I say ‘tried’. If angels and demons couldn’t do it, what hope do these guys have?)

9. I wonder if Sam’s new car has seat belts because he was driving awful reckless.

10. Sam, by not telling Dean, is now thinking and acting like a Winchester in that he now realises it’s better to be alive and unhappy than dead. After AHBL, Dean knows Sam would be destroyed that he sold his soul, but he didn’t care about that because at least Sam was alive. Growing up, I’d say Sam was a poster child for depression but John didn’t care because Sam was alive enough to be pissed. Even if Sam thought Dean would be devastated by the knowledge, I don’t think he’d have told him because Sam’s way, at least Dean was still alive.

Finally, Dean dude, you are so close. You’ve ruffled your hair, messed up the jacket and untucked your shirt. You’ve got the keys of the Impala IN YOUR HAND. You are sooo close....
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-09-29 07:06
Tim the Enchanter, hey, I love your comments! I see your perception of this episode is very similar to my own. I wish I could say more, but unfortunately Im' in a hurry now. Some thoughts:

I loved the "broken glass is sharp" comment. So true about Sam! Dean has Lisa to glue him back, but Sam doesn't, which is sad. Dean is the only one who can mend him. I hope Show makes a good job exploring the mending process rather than sweeping the pieces under the rug. If well done, this mending process should be interesting to see.

About Dean's djinn's visions, I think the're very much connected with Sam, even if indirectly. BTW, almost everything about Dean is connected with Sam. I said it before somewhere so forgive me if I repeat myself, but I think that deep down Dean blames himself for failing in ultimetaly protect Sam against tyhe Devil. I bet this notion, even if false, haunts him. He has a second chance with Ben and he doesn't want to fail now. Because if you pay attention, Ben is like a little Sam to Dean, a little Sam who is still innocent and who Dean can still save. Did you notice that the montage made a paralel with Dean teaching Sam about the Impala and then teaching Ben?

Sam as the second woman or first love that reappers - yes! That's exactly how I feel about this situation. But I hope Sam wins in the end. Sorry Lisa and Lisa's fans, but he got there first. ;-)
MariaVictoria
# MariaVictoria 2010-09-30 09:17
One thing I am really curious about. Dean telling Sam about YED, and Sam saying "That's what you saw?". What on earth did Sam see, love to have known, but that probably ties into the cage, etc., that we will find out about later.