Thoughts on Unforgiven, by Elle2
 
 
 
 
 
Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin penned this episode and they did a good job with it.  It’s no Weekend at Bobby’s and certainly no Dark Side of the Moon but it’s no I Believe the Children Are Our Future either.

I’ll advise you now, readers, my critic’s hat is firmly in place this week, there’s no fan girl to be found here.  If you loved or even mostly liked this episode and don’t wish to read my critique - for I neither loved, mostly liked or even liked this episode - then read no further.  However, if you’re willing to read my thoughts, know that I’ll be brief; I’ll lay out my reasons quickly and without emotions as to why it’s not an episode I’ll be watching again and then spend a few brief moments on some thoughts on Sam and his ‘quest to make things right.’

Critic’s Issues:

In a synopsis my issues cover four broad areas:  RoboSam appears again, no new information was gleaned here, questions that were answered were less important than the ones that were not, the set up is weak.  

I didn’t need an episode that was largely filled with the energy sucking appearance of RoboSam, didn’t.  Jared is magnificent as RoboSam for I believe the intent is to dislike this manifestation - it is rapidly becoming apparent that Sam intensely dislikes this aspect of himself - and Jared delivers.  However, since RoboSam is completely unrelatable and frankly irredeemable to me, I have no wish to visit with him at any length or ever again.  

Didn’t need to see RoboSam being promiscuous yet again since this aspect of the character has been shown already.  Also, since the fact that RoboSam will do whatever it takes to expedite the hunt has already been shown -- feed Dean to a vampire -- the fact that he did it to the sheriff -- albeit this was the first time -- is simply retreading old information.

What I would have liked to have learned in this episode is how Sam and Samuel began working together, not that they were working together.  

I don’t condemn RoboSam for the execution of the five victims, he’s only culpable for the sheriff being a victim; however, the set up is weak.  It’s been shown that Samuel has a wealth of obscure knowledge, antidote to Djinn poison, cure to undo the vampire’s blood, and we know that Bobby can find how to kill Lamias and Okamis so it’s a bit of a stretch to say that between those two they were unable to figure out how to properly kill the Arachne, add to that the knowledge that Sam already knew the victims were beyond saving simply piles on here.  In short, Sam and Samuel should have known that bullets and fire wouldn’t do the job.

So what do I walk away with?

In short, a few things: Dean worries about Sam and this has already become a source of conflict, albeit light, between the two.  Sam is his usual stubborn self and plunges ahead despite the risks that he acknowledges, another obscure monster is loose and breeding and oh, yes, the wall has come down - at least a large chunk of it.

This is where my comment from last week’s review shows just how fine a line it will be to walk in the exploration of Sam’s inner conflict.  Dean doesn’t want Sam scratching at the wall, Sam feels the need to make amends; boy, where do I start?

I appreciate Dean’s concern as much as I appreciate Sam’s need for exploration; however, when to stop and move on is the tough question to answer.  Sam has always been one to question things, why they don’t have a mom, what does dad do, why do they always move, why does Dean sleep with a gun under his pillow and on and on and on.  He questioned John’s motives, his actions, his directions; none of that is a bad thing.  There does come a time though when Sam needs to acknowledge that perhaps there is a time to step back, slow down and let things breathe; not sure he knows that.

Perhaps the fact that a major crack occurred in the wall will help Sam to differentiate between the Sam that was walking topside and the Sam that was trapped in the cage; I hope so.  Dean has had to come to grips with the reality that his body was in a pine box while his soul - his essence, his moral compass - was in hell being tortured and ultimately becoming the torturer.  Dean did awful things and it was the essence of Dean that did those terrible things, not his doppelganger or perhaps better put, his shell.

Sam’s shell was topside doing terrible things while Sam -- his essence, his moral compass -- was in the cage enduring horrible things; a glimpse of which was seen in last night’s episode.

I wonder if that’s how the writers intend to enable Sam to work through this inner conflict of Which I is I?  Don’t know, it will be interesting.  

As it is I do wish Sam would ‘move past’ this seeming need to ignore the warning signs in front of him, signs that in the past he’s ignored (Ruby) but should now see clearly.  Since last night’s episode occurs only just after Sam has been rejoined, body and soul, I don’t hold it against him and this is not me being critical of him; just noting my hope for the future.

As for Dean, there seems to be some small nod being given to the ‘lesson’ bestowed by Death that echoes a comment Bobby made in Episode 6 (Why is it every time you clean something you get dirty?) to Death saying that Dean and Sam disrupt things on a global scale - here Dean gets to show a small illumination to this as he tells Sam that they have a habit of leaving messes in their wake; yep, and there’s a doozy left here.  However, again, the massiveness of that mess has less to do with what Sam did or did not do and more about how the monster was set up and the construct of the story.

So, was last night’s episode awful?  No.  Do I intend to watch it again?  No.  With only ten episodes, now nine, left this season to tell what needs to be told it seems a bit wasteful to spend one that mostly covers old ground, Sam is a gigolo and he uses people as bait if it’s expeditious to the hunt.  We see Samuel disturbed but are no closer to understanding the hows and whys of his return much less any closer to understanding the whys of Sam’s return (at least his shell).  Why Crowley popped those two back still makes little sense.  He wanted Purgatory whether that was to raise mother or to keep her pinned in there is unknown but since he already had Bobby on the hook, why didn’t he just use Bobby as leverage to get Dean back into the game.  Still don’t believe the self-proclaimed king of hell had the juice to pop Sam’s shell out of the cage nor Samuel out of heaven.

Sam spent the episode showing little to know appreciation for the danger he’s putting himself in nor the concern that Dean has over him rather choosing to double down on his stubborn side and ‘make amends and damn the cost’ and Dean is shown reiterating his concerns, wanting to make a run for it when the danger starts to show and then, thankfully, willingly helping Sam without making a big fuss over it but still for plot development or character development this episode offers none.

I wonder if this particular episode didn’t fall victim to some issues that last season’s Swap Meat fell victim to.  Jared had dropped hints that this episode would show Sam watching but avoiding Dean, none of which appeared and I thought I read that it would speak to the origins of Sam and Samuel joining forces; I wonder if in the scale of the story to be told it quickly became apparent that there was an overreach occurring and thus the story was scaled back.  Perhaps the questions I was hoping to have answered here will be answered in other episodes, time will tell.

Next week is supposed to bring Lisa and Ben back into the picture, I’m betting it’s for the final time and while I don’t expect them to be around often, it would be great that they be left alive and safe like others have been, Sarah comes to mind.

As always, thanks for reading, Elle2

Comments  

purplehairedwonder
# purplehairedwonder 2011-02-13 12:31
I liked this episode but agree with the assessment that we didn't glean much that was new. But at the same time, being told Robo!Sam did horrible things is very different from seeing them, and with the second half of this season moving toward Sam trying to gain equilibrium in himself, I think we needed to see what Sam remembered. I doubt we'll delve into this territory again, but it gives us some indication of what other kinds of memories from that time might be lurking behind the now-cracked wall.

I liked the comparison of Sam and Dean in Hell--their experiences were, in a way, inverted, with Dean's essence being the one doing the terrible things he has to live with while Sam's body was the one doing the terrible things. Dean recognizes this and tries to give Sam an out repeatedly: "It wasn't you." But Sam, I think to his credit, isn't taking it. It might not be his essence, but it was his thoughts and memories guiding the actions--much like him when he was hopped up on demon blood and his conscience was squashed.

I also don't buy that Crowley had the juice to get Sam out of the Cage--if someone made a deal I don't doubt the King of the Crossroads could have gotten Samuel out, but it would have taken *major* mojo to get even Sam's body out of the Cage. Consider how many hoops Azazel had to jump through just to *talk* to Lucifer (slaughtering a convent-full of nuns) and Azazel was much higher up on the foodchain than dear Crowley. But we'll see where the show decides to take that.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 13:34
You bring up an excellent point, this episode gave us a 'look' beyond what we'd seen in the first half of the season, and certainly filled in some of the blanks from Sam's talk with Dean at the end of Episode 8 (I think) about having done 'terrible/bad' things. This is somewhat akin to Dean's revelations at the end of Heaven and Hell and Family Remains about what he did in hell, as well as then we saw it in OTHOAP.

Thanks for sharing all your thoughts. :-)
Ellie
# Ellie 2011-02-13 12:56
We have episodes we dont take too or quite like thats natural. Personally I thought it was a well crafted episode . And what delighted me more than anything that unlike in times past we werent just told where Sam was concerned we were shown and I am not going to sniff my nose at that lol.

Sam being Sam it doesnt surprise me he would feel guilt and Dean being Dean he would try to reassure his brother so those aspects were natural to who the boys are. The ending was a shock and brought home the point not only what could happen to Sam with the wall but what he experienced .
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 13:32
Hi, Ellie,

Great thoughts you have...I'm glad you liked the episode and the points you brought up were good points for me as well. As much as I dislike RoboSam I did very much enjoy this time allowing Sam to struggle with those memories in 'front of us' rather than just intellectually. Similar to flashbacks in A Very Supernatural Christmas and After School Special.

I'll be interested to see if that nuance is touched upon again, "Family just slows you down." I'd like to see Sam work through that troubling comment, I call it troubling for it played out that he, Sam with a soul, was disturbed to remember that some aspect of him had said such a thing. Not for one second do I believe Sam doesn't love his family, so I hope for some revelation to Sam as to why such a thought even appeared in his soulless mind that will be an intriguing character development point.

Great thoughts, thank you for sharing.
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2011-02-13 14:19
I appreciate that you wrote this. It happens that I am terribly in love with this episode and have already watched more than once. Nope, not gonna admit how many times, so let’s just say more than once.

What I appreciate is the manner in which you wrote. I’d been hearing shocking rumors that there were those out there who didn’t like the ep and I couldn’t figure out why. You’ve explained beautifully without negativity. Nicely done.

I get how you see it as a filler that doesn’t give any new information. Here, I must disagree. While there was no real new info given in the big picture, I saw this as a brilliant, though subtle, look at how the relationship between Sam and Dean has changed. Or is changing. And from where I’m sitting, they are moving in a healthy direction. Yes, there were a lot of their old behaviors revisited: Sam being deceitful, Dean rabid to protect little brother.
But, in the end, they communicated and ended up on the same page. Dean didn’t like it, but Sam finally is speaking to his brother. He is no longer playing little brother while seething anger inside, and Dean is respecting that. I LOVE that.

While the rest of the ep, the flashbacks, the darkness, the uber creepy villain were all good, they aren’t what stands out. This episode stands out to me in watching the interplay and discovery between the brothers. They are still figuring things out between each other, and it was hella fun for me to watch.

I find myself appreciating that the show moved from the butterflies and cupcakes happiness that was going on between the brothers last week, to a more realistic (heh, c’mon! it’s funny to use that word with this show!) view. To dive straight into a major myth arc episode without placing a few understated building blocks to the boy’s relationship in place, could have been confusing. Suddenly they are both in sync? (or whatever direction the show chooses to take their relationship. That last question is me hoping.) I like that we were given a glimpse of their journey. But then again, for me, this show has always been about Sam and Dean’s relationship. Everything else is icing on the cake. Delicious icing, but not the meat of the matter. (Meaty cake? What? Mixing metaphors but you know what I mean.)

Thanks for writing such respectful disagreement to the episode. I began reading with trepidation and came away pleased, though still firmly in love with the episode. :-)
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:28
Yvonne,

Thank you so much for your comments on 'how' I wrote the article. I have been working very hard at finding balance in how I do these and my tone is very much a part of that. I'm especially joyful to know that I was able to write my thoughts which were the opposite of your thoughts and you were able to understand my point of view while experiencing no dampening of your own enthusiasm. My goal is only to 'speak' my thoughts, be them joyous or less than so, but never to write in a way that causes someone who is joyous to walk away sorrowed that they read what I wrote.

I am so happy I achieved that for you. Thank you.

There were good things about this episode as you brought out that Sam did share with Dean and that Dean did (I'm so thankful) agree to go with Sam's plan and so much of the lying and childish drama fits of the past are, hopefully, indeed past.

I'm glad you shared your thoughts on what made it so enjoyable for you, as always, the sharing of ideas and thoughts helps all of us to understand and perhaps see things differently.

Thank you for sharing.
Ginger
# Ginger 2011-02-13 14:45
I was actually bored stiff with this episode, and many of the points you brought up were exactly why; specifically that one of the few remaining episodes gave us no new information. I keep thinking it was a set-up episode, but if that was the case, it wasn't very clear to me.

I thought the show and contrast between Sam and NotSam was already being done by comparing Dean to NotSam, but now I guess that's not the case. Sam, once again, is shown that he will stubbornly do exactly whatever he wants to do (hello, John). No growth there (hello, Ruby), all the while manipulating Dean with puppy eyes. No growth there for Dean.

The story was weak, but the biggest problem I had was trying to figure out how Sampa went from hard, tough leader of the Clan Campbell (including Sam) who would murder his grandsons to following Sam around like a new puppy. For me, that was another case of a character servicing Sam's storyline. And, yes, I wanted to know how the two of them got together and why. That's why I was watching the episode.

The last point, we find out that Sam didn't contact Dean for a year because 'family slows you down.' That's doesn't offset the cruelty of leaving Dean to think he was dead for a year. Besides that, I am left to think that after going to rescue Dean from the djinn, Sam must have decided back then to keep Dean close because Dean was too rusty to not get killed on his own. Twice now it has been shown that Sam saves Dean, although Dean still is able to figure out what is going on. I don't know if this is a pattern yet, or if it is just to show that Dean is still rusty. Who knows.

Bottom line is that I could not see that this episode added anything new to any of the stories and had paper thin plots holding it together. Perhaps the viewers are to question whether Sam is responsible for his soulless actions or whether Dean was right to insist on getting Sam's soul back? At the risk of once again being called a Dean girl, I will just say that I could care less, as Sam is so unredeemable to me by now that I have no interest in the questions.

I really think it is time for Sera to question whether or not she needs a course correction in what I feel is a very muddled way of trying to tell several different stories and bring them together. I still want to know how Sam and Sampa got together, and we are over half-way through the season.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:35
Admittedly I seriously questioned finishing watching the episode as it was airing. At about the halfway mark I was very, very close to simply turning off the TV and stopping the DVD from recording.

I think the biggest things that bored me were those parts that I wrote in my article, I wanted (and thought) we were going to see/learn about Sam and Samuel which I am very eager to learn about. As I said, perhaps that is what is to come later in the season and thus I need to practice my patience game, but for me I was bored with another outing of RoboSam who I already dislike intensely.

I do appreciate, as Ellie wrote above, the opportunity to at least see Sam (our beloved Sam) glimpsing this dark side of him and pondering that episode in his soulless existence, that was good but, again, I wish that had come with a few more answers of how and why of Sam and Samuel rather than simply here's an episode of RoboSam.

Ah, well, 'tis done and over with now, perhaps the questions I hope to have answered will come in the remaining nine episodes, perhaps not. Perhaps in the world of noir, where there are story trails that lead to nowhere, this is one of those that will simply be unanswered.

I do agree with your sentiment (and I wrote it in the article) that Sam is being shown as stubbornly following his own path and damn the consequences. I think that's a disservice to Sam, yes, it is in character for him to be independent and I love that part of him, I simply wish he'd slow down a bit and allow for some patience; that would be growth that he has well and truly earned.
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-02-13 15:07
It’s difficult to respond to this, Elle2, because we are obviously coming at the episode from such wildly different perspectives/di rections that it scarcely seems that we're watching the same show. My inner fangirl has been incoherent with joy at the episode since Friday night. My inner critic is finally able to speak above the "EEEEEE!" in the background.

It was imperative to the ongoing narrative that Sam remember at least some of the actions of Robo!Sam. I believe that the actions of Robo!Sam over the year he was hunting without Dean contains information that the brothers will need to unravel all of the unanswered questions. I don’t know if there are anymore flashbacks planned, we may have seen the last of Robo!Sam, but I doubt we’ve heard the last of him.
I have found the overall narrative treatment of Robo!Sam to be superlative - rather than sucking energy out of an episode, for me, Robo!Sam injects energy into it with his unpredictable actions. As a sociopath who can lie as easily as breathing -- even to Veritas -- Robo!Sam is the epitome of unreliable narrators - we cannot take at face value anything that he has said since 'Exile on Main Street.'

The one weakness I thought in this episode was the convenience of the sheriff’s wife being so willing to cooperate with Sam -- the puppy eyes are good, but not that good. She works at the sheriff’s office - she had to know that Sam was the one who beat up the deputy, even knowing what Sam does for a living, how did she hand wave that? That didn’t ring true for me at all.

I think its very interesting, that even presented with the harsh reality of what his body did, (as opposed to whatever detail Cas gave him)Sam is so adamant that its him - that he is responsible for those actions. So far Robo!Sam and Dean are the ones in agreement – Robo!Sam refers to Soul!Sam as ‘that other guy’ and sees himself as a separate entity – willing to do anything to preserve himself. The continuing exploration of the relationship between body and soul – and what makes up the essence of the ‘real’ person is fascinating to me. And for it to continue, Sam must feel the way he does; must feel the need to take that responsibility – because if he doesn’t, if he agrees with Dean that ‘it wasn’t me’ and goes on his merry way, then what was the point of having Robo!Sam at all?

Unforgiven is one of my favorite episodes of the season so far. Both my inner fangirl AND my inner TV critic enjoyed it very much.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:41
Melanie,

I appreciate your comments so much, not only that you willingly shared them but that you took no offense at what I wrote. Thank you on both aspects!

I am in full agreement that it is imperative that Sam remember his RoboSam moments, I sincerely wished they had added to that knowledge by giving us the origins of Sam and Samuel; in my mind (and yes, I have no idea what is coming so perhaps it is all well paced out) what occurred here could have been augmented by the Sam and Samuel joining forces story.

You bring up excellent points regarding the sheriff's wife (who reminds me a bit of Sheriff Mills). It was convenient that she so willingly helped Sam out; it is an interesting little story arc or depth or whathaveyou for that character that she is shown as her husband's partner in the past and now is shown to be yet another casualty in the world of hunters...I do wonder how much carnage is left in the wake of hunters...think of that family left at the end of NRFTW, two dead and rotting grandparents, Ruby's first vessel and Dean bloody on the floor...shudder (think of the carpet cleaning/replac ement costs...sorry, rabbit trail.)

I think the title directly speaks to Sam...he cannot forgive himself, Dean has but Sam cannot. It will be interesting to see how it all comes out.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and allowing me mine. :-)
Louisa
# Louisa 2011-02-13 15:12
I so agree with you. It was a waste of an hour at a time when I hoped we'd be moving into the next phase of this season with (hopefully) something for Dean. I erased it from my DVR the minute I finished watching it, and consider it an hour wasted.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:43
Yeah, Louisa, I watched it but questioned completing it about halfway through. I attempted a second viewing later on but found myself fastforwarding through most of it preferring to focus on a few moments of Sam and Dean interaction as well as some moments as Sam completed a memory and digested what he learned.

Thanks for sharing your comments.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2011-02-13 20:50
Well, Louisa, I know how you feel. There are episodes I never bothered to rewatch. Such is the case with The Beginning. That is not a Dean-centric episode, it's a Dean-only episode. Much as I love Dean, this is a two-brother show, so both deserve their space.
LordAniline
# LordAniline 2011-02-13 15:56
Sam need to meet RoboSam, so this episode is really more for him than the viewers.

Yes the story of RoboSam is nothing new to us, but Sam haven't met him so he needed to in order to help get past his need to take responsibility for something he had no control over. I had the same thought as Elle that by remembering Hell (just a glimps) then maybe Sam will realize that the true him was downstairs while his avatar was roaming topside.

Dean helped put my love for this story up several notches because he was very supportive, even gentle, with Sam even when Sam was being abit difficult and stubborn. We haven't seen this side of Dean in a very long time and "Unforgiven" reminded me of that. I missed soulSam so much in the first half of season 6 that I didn't realize that the true Dean has been missing even longer.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:51
Like a Virgin really brought home the 'truth' in that Dean is not Dean without Sam...you stated it so well in your comment.

As I wrote in my article, and you stated here, I do hope that that flash of hell (uh, no fire puns intended) will help Sam see a differentiation . I don't want him to whitewash what RoboSam did for I think it is a wonderful opportunity for Sam to deal with some of his inner darkness that others above have commented on. Sam has always felt alone, a freak, different, as if he didn't belong and as RoboSam he made no attempts to fit in or reach out or become a part of anything, not even the Campbell clan.

Yes, Dean here was very gentle with Sam, similar to the gentleness of Sam to Dean in PONR.

Thanks for sharing your comments. :-) Makes me glad I wrote it so that I can share and so can others.
purplehairedwonder
# purplehairedwonder 2011-02-13 21:37
Ah, interesting that you bring up PONR, since that was really the turning point for the relationship in season 5... I hope that means what transpires here means a turning point--maybe less for the relationship because I don't really see them as in trouble, just shaky since neither knows how to safely deal with the Great Wall of Sam--for the remainder of the season. Kind of early for one, but with all the other plotlines needing addressing, this is probably about as long as they can let *this* plot dangle.

My hope is that the turning point for Sam is backing off from his need to stroll down memory land and fix things--via scratching the wall--and letting Dean help him with whatever comes. They're soul mates, right? Well, Sam's soul is damaged, so it makes sense that Dean needs to be the one to help heal it. I think Sam asking Dean here to back him up was a good sign for the future... except maybe now the backup will be more emotional support since we have hell leaking from the wall.
donilou2
# donilou2 2011-02-13 17:47
Thankyou for this review and your candor, Elle. I appreciate that and agree with everything you said.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:57
You're welcome, thank you for your comments.
mc
# mc 2011-02-13 17:50
Agree with all your points Elle. I thought this episode was boring and redundant. No new info, nothing about how Sam and Samuel met or why they would decide to leave Dean out of the loop except for a throwaway line that still doesn't explain why Sam changed his mind and manipulated circumstances to get Dean back into the hunt a year later.

Dean had nothing to do but play nurse-maid yet again, some more, and certainly no acknowledgement of the all that Dean did sacrifice to bring Sam back or how he would be left to change Sam's diapers if Sam continues to irresponsibly scratch at the wall.

The whole thing was completely unsatisfying to me and worse than that, boring. Also the sheriff's wife came off as rather moronic for trusting Sam so easily considering she thought he was responsible for her husband's disappearance. Just badly-written all around.
elle2
# elle2 2011-02-13 17:59
Yeah, the sheriff's wife didn't acquit herself too well, shame too for I found her interesting, albeit highly naive for someone who was married to a sheriff and who worked by his side as a partner.

I did like that she helped Sam in the end as she realized her husband was past saving.

Thanks for sharing.
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2011-02-13 19:42
I liked the episode, but you brought up some good points that I hadn't considered on my 1st watch (yes, I did rewatch!). I really do want to see how Sam & Samuel 1st met, & who was truly responsible for bringing them both back to earth. Those pieces of info HAVE to be revealed by the end of the season, or sooner! Both hunters, based on what we know about them, should have known better about their quarry. Although, considering how secretive Samuel & the Campbell clan appear to be & how self-centered RoboSam was, I doubt they would how consulted Bobby for help. Surely Crowley would have helped if it meant bagging a "first" that he could interrogate.
Brynhild
# Brynhild 2011-02-13 20:23
Maybe because I didn't expect NOTHING (andda I NEVER expect something in particular from an episode), I could enjoy the episode very very very mmuch.

It didn't give any new infrmation? Yes. And so? I, for one, don't think that every episode of a series HAS to give me new information on the overall story. A series is made of satandalone episodes too, and if these standalone episodes are well-done, I don't care if they bring something new or not.

And this episode was well done, and I just don't come to understand how can be viewed as "weak". In fact, if you look at it like a mini thriller movie, it's just perfect. Rythm is great, suspence well builded till the end, the way the places and events trigger Sam's memories and the falshbacks are crafted into the main storyline very well written and directed, characters very well acted (with the growing crushing feeling of utter helplessness and fear in Sam's eyes), the way in the end the real "guilty" of this mess was "him" (more exactly RoboSam) and the way this is going to affect him clearly a hint of things to come... I just don't know how could this episode bore someone.

Maybe, I repeat, because someone was expecting something different, and not having it, found it useless watching more.

My inner fangirl is not talking here, because from a fangirl point of view there was very little to enjoy in this episode: little banter between the brothers, none of the brothers in real danger so the other can going to the rescue, Dean very well on the sides and having to be rescued AGAIN by Sam... No, it's precisely my inner tv critic that is talking, because looking just at the story, the direction and the performances, this episode is very, very good.
Richard Dagneau
# Richard Dagneau 2011-02-13 22:17
Well, you warned me, but I read your review anyway. I loved this episode so much, I found it hard to believe others didn't, so I guess curiosity got to me. I can see how those who hate RoboSam may not have liked this ep. I, for one, hate Grampa, but his minor appearance didn't detract for me. I don't care how they started hunting together, and I can't imagine how finding out how they met would be at all interesting, or contribute to the story of Supernatural at all. YMMV. I sincerely hope that the next time we see Gramps, is the time when Dean finally kills him like he said he would, and we never hear of him again.
What does bother me is the idea that Sam is his "usual stubborn self," as if his concern for the lives he damaged as RoboSam is a character flaw. Not to mention that "not remembering" is not something that Sam can physically do, as if his brain has an off switch. I can just imagine the outrage if Sam had said, "Okay, Dean- I've made a mess in R.I.- you go ahead and clean up my mess while I sit on my hands, all safe and sound."
I'm particularly appalled at the idea I've seen in comments that Sam is doing Dean some terrible injustice by "scratching the wall," leaving Dean changing Sam's diapers. Sam didn't *ask* to have a wall put in his head, anymore than he asked to come back without his soul. It was DEAN's idea to put that wall in Sam, and DEAN is responsible for the consequences, just like Sam is responsible for what happened when he was RoboSam.
lianne
# lianne 2011-02-14 10:34
It wasn't Dean's idea to put the wall in Sam, it was Death's idea. Dean had 2 choices -- accept Death's offer and return Sam's soul or leave Sam's soul in hell. It was Dean's wish to save Sam's soul and that meant agreeing to the wall as well.

Sam told Dean not to save him from the pit in Swan Song. Sam took responsibility for how he dealt with Lucifer and was prepared to live or die with the consequences. If Sam doesn't want to live with the wall now, then he should ask Dean (or someone) to kill him. He really should be dead anyway after SS. And at least dying and going to heaven would be better than remaining in hell, which is what would have happened if Dean had not agreed to Death's deal.

That said, Dean warned Sam about scratching at the wall but Sam didn't listen to him. Sam admitted that he was actively trying to remember things. Maybe after this episode Sam has learned his lesson?
Richard
# Richard 2011-02-14 18:59
@lianne -Dean was sure selling it like it was his idea, against both Sam's and Castiel's strong objections. My point is that it wasn't Sam's idea to have a wall put in this head, or to get his soul ripped out in the first place. As you correctly pointed out, Sam told Dean NOT to bring him back. My point continues to be that Sam is not being "stubborn" or "self-centered" just by having flashbacks. Dean tied Sam down, and forced him to take that soul, even when he knew it wasn't safe- but Dean has zero responsiblity for the outcome? Come on.
What lesson is Sam supposed to have learned- that he should be dead?
lolz
# lolz 2011-02-14 23:48
(edited by Alice) This post was reported to the administrator and I agree. You're way out of line here and being offensive, especially since you're trying to bring up trouble from a prior article that has nothing to do with this author whatsoever.
Richard
# Richard 2011-02-15 01:30
WTF? I don't think comparing this to rape is at all funny. You are either lost or trolling.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 01:54
Thank you, lolz, for giving a perfect example for misconstuction of words and meaning.
lianne
# lianne 2011-02-15 22:15
Sam is not just randomly receiving flashbacks... he admitted that he was actively trying to remember, despite what Dean warned him about.

Sam chose to return to that town and stay there even knowing that he was wanted by the police. Sam sought to access his memories, even when he knew the risk.

And Dean has zero responsibility for what Sam chooses to do now. Sam knows about the wall and he knows not to poke at it, so it's all on Sam if he chooses to ignore the warning. And by actively trying to access his memories on this case, that's exactly what he did. And Dean is NOT responsible for that.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2011-02-14 11:35
Richard, i agree completely. I can imagine the public uproar if Sam just sittted there and did nothing about RoboSam'a actions. On the other hand, if he tries to do something, he's stubborn and selfish. It seems nothing that Sam does is satisfying to some fans. And surely it must be so "easy" to be in Sam's shoes, knowing that his walking body did horrible things to people he loves and others while his soul was helpless in the cage. But he must sit quietly not to upset Dean.

Besides, it's not that "Sam doesn't want to live with the wall". Of course he wants lo live, with or without the wall. But he also needs to make things right. Is this so hard to acccept? Even Dean understood that, or else he wouldn't have agreed to stay and help Sam.
Richard
# Richard 2011-02-14 19:06
@AndreaW - Exactly! Dean AGREED that Sam was right, and people still bitch at Sam, saying he is stubborn and doesn't listen to Dean. DEAN AGREED! *shakes head* I don't get it.
Ginger
# Ginger 2011-02-14 12:37
@ Richard: For me, I thought that finding out how Sam and Sampa met would shed some light on why everyone in Heaven and Earth had decided to leave Dean in the dark on Sam's return, as well as having established background information on the skipped SPN year.

In retrospect, however, I think the show has answered that question. In one of the earlier episodes, NotSam tells Dean he believes Dean is still suffering from PTSD (which I found at the time to be an odd line). With the information provided in this episode, that 'family slows you down,' I can see that this is Sam/NotSam still thinking he is the better hunter and that Dean would, in fact, slow down his hunting.

Given that background, I guess I can see where one would think that knowing how the two of them hooked up probably would not reveal anything more about NotSam and Sampa, who brought them out, out from Hell or Heaven for Sampa, and why. We can just accept canon that Crowley did it for the purpose of advancing his hunt for Purgatory. That leaves a lot of holes in the story, but when haven't there been lots of plot holes to be overlooked?
Richard
# Richard 2011-02-14 19:03
@Ginger - Correct, Sam having no soul is why he didn't contact Dean initially. No mystery there.
Not sure what Bobby's excuse was, especially since Dean is his favorite. It seems he really thought Dean would be happier without Sam.
Is there a reason that Gramps and RoboSam could give about keeping Dean in the dark that fans would find acceptable? No. No, I didn't think so. So what's the point? Are we searching for new reasons to be mad at Sam?
Brynhild
# Brynhild 2011-02-14 19:42
Oh, but it's like in team sports: it seems that you HAVE to root for one team or another to enjoy a game. You have to judge the characters for what they are or do, to give ethical or emotional judgement on them to actually enjoy the story... :zzz
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 01:57
Amen, Brynhild. I wonder if people know that it's not necessary to root for one or the other to enjoy the story.
Ginger
# Ginger 2011-02-14 20:09
Being mad at Sam or not mad at Sam isn't the point I'm addressing. I was talking about background information and why some of us were curious as to how and why Sampa and Sam hooked up, and I can drill that down further as to why I wanted that information and was disappointed that we didn't get it (besides the fact that Sera said that would be shown and also that Sam would be checking up on Dean).

The information would have been important for me simply because we know that no one in Heaven and Earth cared whether Sam had a soul or not until Dean discovered it was missing. We also now know for sure that NotSam thought he was a better hunter and didn't want Dean slowing him down and that no one else in Heaven and Earth cared whether Dean was hunting or not. If ancient monsters from centuries ago have been wandering the Earth since the Apocalypse was averted and acting acting wildly out of character, that puts into question as to whether or not these boys still considered anything exceptionhal, or even 'heroes;' especially given that we now know there are plenty of other hunters out there that can take care of the problem.

It also puts into question as to why Crowley even needed Sampa and Sam, since he certainly didn't need Dean for a whole year.

It also puts into question why Sam decided that Dean should now tag along.

But mostly it puts into question as to just how important the overall story arc of the GG Mother monster (or any of the monsters we've seen this season) really is, since the lack of this very basic information means that Sam's soul being missing, will the Sam Wall break, and how will Sam now handle the Sam wall question -- ignore or remember Hell -- and how will Dean help Sam cope is the intimate story Sera has promised for this season.

Perhaps I'm the only one that is still trying to figure out what the story for this season is, because I really don't know at this point. Having this very basic background information would have helped me piece that question together.

Why did Crowley pull Sam from Hell and Sampa from Heaven to help him find Purgatory, which is a place that you can drive to? I don't know if that is a question I need to be concerned about.

How did Sampa go from following Sam around to becoming a leader of the Campbell Clan and Sam following him around? Did Sampa want Dean to work with them or not? Did Crowley want Dean to work with Sam and Sampa or not? Is that sonmething even something I should even worry about.

If Sampa is such an encyclopedia of SPN knowledge, how is it he didn't have a cure for spider bites or a spider abortion remedy in his Campbell Soup Recipe book? Is that a just a curiousity question or does it point towards the question the episodes seems to ask of whether Sam should feel responsible for his actions?

I'm just saying why the background information was kind of an important ingredient for me and why I had hoped to get it out of this episode. If you didn't need it; fine. Apparently, Sera didn't think it was too important to the overall scheme of things either.
CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2011-02-13 22:24
Hmm ... I personally found it somewhat "energy draining" having to watch RoboSam.

The acting's great (all credit to Jared), but there's just something about that character (RoboSam) that does nothing for me.

That being said, I am hooked and I am intensely curious about Sam's fate in this Season. :)
Karen
# Karen 2011-02-14 08:23
Hi Elle2
I may not of loved this episode but I did like it. I found myself quite captivated through out the whole episode.
I liked the way they did the flashbacks, the distorted and detailed moments of memory and going to black and white.
I too was a little disappointed that they didn’t reveal how Sam and Samuel met up with each other. It’s been one thing that has had me curious from the season premiere.
With the flashbacks with Samuel I thought it was going to be him that had sent the text to trap Sam. I was surprised to find it was the Sheriff that was behind it all.

I believe this episode was meant to be a turning point for both Sam and Dean.
With Sam so determine to fix all that he had done while being soulless, he needed to realize just how fragile and dangerous this wall of his actually was.
It’s something he had to learn for himself, for as much as he believed Dean was serious about the warnings, he probably also believed that Dean was embellishing the dangers a bit because he was being overly protective.
And a turning point for Dean as he once again had to let Sam make his own decisions and let him learn for himself the dangers he was putting himself in.
I also believe that by having Sam learning the true dangers of this wall, he will now back off and this gives the writers the opportunity to focus on the other storylines other than the breaking of Sam’s wall.
Thanks for the review Elle2, I always like reading your take of the episodes, whether it is to say Yah or Nay.
Jaspala
# Jaspala 2011-02-14 08:26
Elle2, hi dear, thank you for your critical review this week, and, well, I can’t agree with you this time.

I don’t think that Sam can step back, as the turmoil eating away at him won’t give him a moment to breathe, not yet at least.
Though you seem to deem many of the scenes dispensable, I think it was necessary to give Sam room to find out what the enemy he tries to fight looks like, namely the brutal, cold deeds his alter ego committed while his soul was trapped in hell.

I loved the episode, really. There were so many layers that kept me on edge from the first minute. And I was astonished by the acting, which was amazing. Not only from Jared and Jensen, but even the guest stars delivered a unique performance. That’s not always the case.

I am more curious and more worried than ever about what will happen to both Winchester brothers now that there will be hardly any room anymore for denial. Perhaps now they will be more open with each other and find out that that will make them stronger.

Take care, Jas
sonia mary
# sonia mary 2011-02-14 10:02
adorei, bem legal suas analise do episodio,eu gostei do episodio não esperava que sam robo fosse como sammy mesmo. sam ser humano bom que si ele não tivesse a alma que tem não teria vencido lucifer não amaria dean então a força de sam e sua alma. eu amo a alma doce de sammy. parabens pelo comentario, continuo gostando muito de supernatural
Junkerin
# Junkerin 2011-02-14 10:19
Hi Elle

I´m sorry the episode didn´t work for you. I loved it. In the last episode Sam sad he must set things right, that was his first aim.
And you defenetly learned how easily the wall can leak.
Shelby
# Shelby 2011-02-14 11:56
I can't like this storyline. It's never going to happen, but it's not even tolerable when they show Sam in the same self-centered, aggravating way they showed him for much of S4 only this time with his apparently noble intentions masking the fact that his making amends is more about making himself feel better than it is about making things "right"-because he can't undo the things he's done; with some things there is no "making it right"; it's just not possible. He can only learn from it and try to do better with what he's learned from it-which is why I don't understand the writers having him reiterate to Dean "What would you do?" w/o having Dean tell Sam that-because that's what Dean did. He didn't try to fix what was unfixable. He quietly and unassumingly, just put one foot in front of the other even when that was all that he could do(because he had NO! support whatsoever)and moved forward and tried to do better with those he COULD help, all the while reconciling and learning to live with a part of himself that he'd seen and despised and felt horror and shame at-and again, he did this quietly with no one the wiser for what was going on inside him. Would that Sam could learn THIS from his hell experience, THEN by acknowledging this to Dean, he might actually be making a type of amends-only different from what he thinks of in that vein. Would that Sam could actually handle his hell experience the way Dean actually handled his-quietly and unassumingly accepting the uglier sides of himself-all of them-especially the part that keeps Sam predominantly focused on himself and his feelings as others he interacts with(especially his brother). Again though, I am not sure if the writers see that this is happening in their writing efforts. The rest of the season will tell. As their history goes, I do not have much hope for this type of layered storytelling from this lot, however.
If this one turns out to be only yet a re-hashing of what we've already seen and know this season of what a SouledSam vs SoullessSam would do, then I agree, it was a wasted episode. Personally, I did not like SouledSam in this episode much better than I liked SoullessSam because both were self-centered, self-righteous and refused to think that Dean might be right about something and Dean's "I'm only trying to make you feel better-stop being such a little bitch." was my favorite line of this totally unlikable episode. I won't watch it again either.
Kellymom
# Kellymom 2011-02-14 17:06
Hi, Elle2~

I'm with you on this one and am sad I didn't enjoy it more since we only have 9 epis left. Thanks for giving me a place to commiserate and move on! I hope next week is a winner :)
Lola
# Lola 2011-02-14 18:46
Thanks for your honest review, elle2. I found myself doing housework during the episode- not a good sign.

For me, this is definitely a forgettable filler episode. Instead of showing us anything about Sam meeting up with the Campbells or explaining why "family slows you down"Sam wanted Dean around, we got another retread of Slutty roboSam who uses others for bait. It didn't do justice to either brother's characterizatio n. Sam is still sneaking around behind Dean's back, not trusting Dean's spidey sense, and still thinking that his way is the only way while Dean still caves in to Sam's wishes against his better judgement....I just think there could have been a better story to tell.

After his character growth last season, I was hoping we'd see a Sam who's mature enough to realize the wisdom of Dean's warnings, to respect what Dean had to sacrifice to save Sam's soul, to talk to Dean about learning to deal with guilt that really can't be atoned for. Maybe we'll get that before the end of the season - now that would be a terrific episode, imo.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-02-14 19:26
This was the episode I was really looking forward to, mainly because of 'spoilers' I’d read prior to it. As with you Elle2, I believed it would focus on things like Sam and Samuel meeting up, why Sam went back hunting, why Sam was watching Dean; on things we didn’t already know. However, the episode we got did not reveal that, but rather reinforced what we had already suspected/knew. Did I mind? Not one freaking bit. Am I disappointed? Far from it. Do I feel the episode was lessened because of it? Oh God, no!

(The shallow bit out of the way first...) I have to say, my heart rate goes up a bit when Soulless Sam appears on screen. Not just because he’s hotter than Hades but because he’s so damn unpredictable. I’ve spent a lot of time going ‘wtf?’ when Sam is on screen, he keeps me guessing and thinking and I do like that....

Fair enough, we didn’t learn anything new from the episode but I feel it was far from just being a forgettable filler episode. As was already pointed out, Sam learnt a lot. He’s the one who had no clue what he did, until now. He can’t move forward until he knows what he’s done. Without that knowledge, he’ll just end up going round in circles. Sam needs to know what he did in order to be able to put it behind him. I don’t think this episode was about Sam making amends per se, but realising the futility of trying to do so.

Sam can’t make amends. He can’t bring people back to life, he can’t unApocalypse the Apocalypse, he can’t unsleep with someone, and he can’t undo the betrayal. He can be sorry for it but as with everything to do with Sam, it's too little, too late; the damage has already been done. The more he tries to fix things, the more he will gouge up old hurts, the more doors he’s going to have slammed in his face and backs turned to him. It’s commendable that he tries to make amends but after this episode, hopefully he’s now realised that some things can’t be fixed and there’s no shame in accepting that. It won’t appease his guilt, it won’t soothe his conscience, it won’t make him feel better but... it won’t make him feel worse.

In much the same way, Sam had to experience the effect of scratching at the wall to know to stay away from the damn thing. He was tremendously blasé about it for the majority of the episode. In relation to the wall collapsing he says ‘It will or it won’t’, a fierce ‘Que Sera Sera’ attitude towards something that could conceivably finish him. Dean knows the seriously of it, which is why he is so adamant that Sam stay away so why doesn’t Sam pay heed to him? Maybe he thought Dean was being overprotective. I don't think he's disrespecting his but I feel it's because, as Sam has no memory of hell, he has no need to fear the horrors that lie behind the wall. The only yardstick Sam has to measure hell is Dean, who was functional after his trip south. Why wouldn’t Sam assume the result would be the same for him?

Also, maybe Sam thought he’d be able to cope with whatever was thrown his way in terms of hell. We always assume we’re capable of more than we actually are (ie never assume you can run 26 miles just because you’re able to run 5). I’m sure Sam at that point was thinking ‘It can’t be that bad. They’re just memories, they can’t physically hurt me’. Maybe Sam believed he could handle what was going to be thrown at him. He obviously thought wrong!

They are two painful lessons for Sam to learn, I imagine. So while I feel that while the episode might not have taken any big steps forward in the mytharc, it did serve a purpose.

I feel it served a purpose in allowing Sam and Dean something in common. They could hardly bond over their hells if Sam couldn’t remember his. I feel Sam and Dean know each other a little better now as Sam got a taste (albeit briefly) of what it’s like to walk in Deans hell shoes.

I also think it served a purpose in that it quelled any lingering question marks some of us (ahem, me) might have had in relation to just how low Sam would go. It wasn’t just Sam who saw the depravity of Soulless Sam, we’ve now all witnessed it firsthand. I admit, I was one of those (fecking idiots) who defended Sam to the hilt for the first few episodes saying ‘No way did use the baby as bait, no way did he intentionally let Dean be turned etc etc’ but it turned out, he did. He did all of that and more. Tim, your dumbassery knows no bounds! (Also, in terms of predictions and theories, current score is: Show=751 Tim=0)

I also feel (hope) that this episode will serve as an ending of a (large) chapter for Sam. Sams need to try to right the wrongs of yesterday have consumed him for 5½ years now. It can’t be done. Some wrongs simply cannot be made right. Sam's stubbornness in refusing to accept that is one of his most endearing, and annoying, traits. Hopefully though, he now realises that. It's not admitting defeat. It's accepting the inevitable on his terms (much the same as saying yes to Lucifer).

Sam can no longer look back, he has to look ahead, something I don’t think he’s been able to do since Stanford. He can’t allow himself to be dictated by his past any more. He must realise that there is a day after yesterday and that’s the only one that counts.

I don’t watch enough TV to be a critic. I’m too freaking old (sob) to be a fan girl (I’m a lady, people, and fanlady sounds like some sort of feminine hygiene product...) but I am a fan and this episode ticked all my boxes. It was uncomfortable, it was numbing, it was dark, it was at times hard to stomach but damn, it was enthralling and by God, it was memorable.
Jane Doe
# Jane Doe 2011-03-25 15:26
@elle2: Yikes, getting a bit too emotional there, dude. It's just a TV show and why are you getting so attached to fictional characters anyways? Thanks for making us women look so insecure, cranky and being unable to tell apart "what we want" from "plot direction and character development". I'd more respect for your writing integrity when your articles didn't collapse into a screaming fit.

Very disappointed fan of yours.